By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
WINDSOR — Shooting colder than the frigid temperature outside, the Montgomery and Windsor girls heated up late with the Vikings taking an overtime win Thursday night.
Montgomery’s poise was the difference in another tight North Bay League contest as the Vikings pulled out the 36-34 road victory. Montgomery was determined to prevent a second close loss after falling to Santa Rosa in OT on Jan. 2.
“We were just looking to come out strong in overtime. We wanted to get back on track,” said Ashlee Wilson, who led the Vikings with 13 points. “We love games like this.”
Windsor had chances to win in the fourth quarter. Possessing the ball twice in the final half-minute, the Jaguars turned the ball over and missed a long shot.
“We knew it was going to be tough. We just gave it up in the end,” said Andrea Flinn, Windsor’s top scorer with 15 on the night.
The first league game between Montgomery and Windsor with the Jaguars moving into the NBL figured to be a low-scoring affair. Both teams work the clock on offense with passing to wear down defenses, a challenge in the competitive NBL.
“If we can’t beat the defense back we’ve become more patient on offense and try to work the 30-second clock for the best possible shot while making our opponents play defense,” Windsor coach Jeff Paul said. “Scoring continues to be an issue for our program.”
Montgomery is an unselfish squad with different players stepping up nightly to lead the Vikings. But turnovers too often have offset rugged rebounding and a knack for steals.
“I’ve been real happy with our defense,” said Montgomery coach Steve Bell. “We’ve got to improve on turnovers.”
The game unfolded along those patterns with little even flow for much of the contest. When not finishing around the basket, both squads were struggling to make open shots from outside.
The halftime score — 15-12 for Montgomery — was one football fans might see on the scoreboard in Saturday’s 49ers playoff game.
Solid man-to-man defense accounted for a measure of the frustration. Not many fouls were called in the sometimes physical contest.
“It was tough going to the basket. It definitely wore us down,” Wilson said.
After a rough start to the second half, the teams found more rhythm on offense late. The teams traded scoring runs in the final period with Windsor forging the tie to force overtime.
Windsor shooting guard Kerianne Noonan found her stroke, making 8 of 13 shots in the third period, often set up by teammates’ screens and kick-out passes. Flinn lofted in a pair of 3-pointers in the final period as the Jaguars passed with purpose.
Practice going up against strong post defenders paid off for Montgomery. Guard Angela Hess scored 4 of her 7 in the third period on a determined drive and on an offensive rebound following her own miss. Center Claire Donnelly put in the game-winner with a quick move to the basket as the Vikings motion created a lane.