North Oldham built a 15-point halftime lead over Oldham County with strong defense and held off a Lady Colonel comeback in a 43-37 win on Jan. 20 in Goshen.
“Early on, we were doing a lot of talking and communicating in our rotations and things, and it really bothered the other team,” North Oldham coach Mac McIntosh said. “It made us appear a little bit bigger and faster than maybe what we are. We’ve got to wait for that in the second half, and that maybe came back to bite us a little bit.”
The Lady Mustangs allowed no second quarter field goals and to help build a 22-7 lead by the break.
“We’ve been prioritizing ball pressure and getting up and making them uncomfortable,” NOHS junior Katie Smith said. “I don’t think they liked us all up in them.”
North Oldham typically divides its shots and touches relatively down the middle between its guards and post players, but the backcourt duo of Smith and fellow junior Gracie Sipes led the way early, scoring 20 of the 22 team’s first half points.
“I came in ready and prepared. This is my second year playing in front of a big crowd, so I was ready and had to lead my team,” Smith said. “It makes us a lot harder to defend because you can’t just focus on our big girls and closing out on 3s. That opens up the middle and opens up the kickout.”
Oldham County flipped the script in the third quarter and held North Oldham scoreless for the first five-plus minutes of the second half.
“We need to learn from shot selection. I think it hurt us big time in that third quarter, just not understanding what we’re doing,” McIntosh said. “And you know what the riddle is? We’re better shooters than we did tonight, so maybe that was a part of it. We can clean that up going into next week.”
The Lady Colonels only got back within 10 at 26-16 by the end of the third period due another strong defensive quarter by NOHS, but both teams hit their stride offensively in the fourth quarter.
Oldham County roared back within three in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, but senior forward Liz Boyd made three key buckets down the stretch to help North Oldham close out the win.
After getting in foul trouble early and recording just three points total in the first three quarters, Oldham County’s leading scorer, junior Adriana Palazzolo, tallied 12 points in the final period to give the Lady Colonels a shot late.
However, Oldham County coach Ron Ferch said it’s imperative that the team starts games better if it wants to beat its quality opponents, something it has struggled with throughout this season.
“It’s more a mindset than anything. Our kids don’t embrace the toughness you need to play in and win games like this. It takes them a while to get going – and after that we were fine – but you can’t score seven points in a half and expect to win,” Ferch said. “It’s that simple. It’s not being mean; it’s being truthful. We are not equipped right now to handle big games. Our practices have to get more intense, and we’ve just got to be stronger mentally.”
Oldham County will face the loser of the North Oldham vs. South Oldham matchup, which is slated for Jan. 27 in Crestwood, in the 29th District tournament semifinals in February.
“If we get off to a good start, we’re fine. If we don’t, we’re in a bad spot,” Ferch said of the looming elimination game. “As a coaching staff, we’ve got four weeks to get that fixed. If we do, we’ll be fine. If we don’t, we’ll pack it up.”
North Oldham will look to claim the top seed in the district for the second straight season after earning it for the first time in program history last year.
“Going into South, it’s a different game plan,” McIntosh said. “We will probably adjust our defense a little bit, we will tweak some of our offensive sets. We’ve been holding back some things so that they can’t see film on it. … We’re going to be prepared to play South next Friday.”
NORTH OLDHAM 43, OLDHAM COUNTY 37
Oldham County 6 1 9 21 – 37
North Oldham 11 11 4 17 – 43
Oldham County (11-9): Adriana Palazzolo 15, Ellery Kloek 10, Natalie Flynn 4, Bryanna Barnes 4, Hailey Wood 2, Audrey Roberts 2
North Oldham (11-8): Katie Smith 14, Gracie Sipes 13, Liz Boyd 8, Katelyn Vize 4, Caroline Moffett 2, Saylor Hankins 2
3-pointers: North Oldham 3 (Smith 2, Sipes), Oldham County 1 (Kloek)