Beth Hughes gets a rush out of hitting 3-point shots.
For Hughes, the only thing better than hitting an outside shot is knowing she has done her part to help her team win. “I get really excited, but I owe it to all my teammates,” Beth Hughes said. “They create the (lanes) for how open I am.”
Hughes collected all of her team-high 12 points via outside shots as the Mt. Mercy Magic beat Nichols 58-50 in girls basketball action that was played inside the Gerard Gymnasium at Nichols School on Tuesday.
Because of the way the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association girls’ basketball is structured this year this meeting between the Magic and Lady Vikings was considered a non-league match up and will not affect the league standings.
It does, however, set the stage for Monday’s rematch at Mt. Mercy, which will be a league game.
“That’s huge. That’s huge. Especially coming back in the second half to do it,” said Magic coach John Glose.
“Confidence is a big part of basketball, especially women’s basketball. So it huge.”
The Vikings built an early lead thanks to the play of Ava Bueme (15 points) and Jillian Niedzialowski, who hit two of her three, 3-pointers in the first half as the Vikings were up 20-15 midway through the second.
But Clare McKeone’s six points off the bench started the ball rolling as the Magic started to slow chip away at the deficit. A three by Anne Bamrick pulled Mt.Mercy within one, 26-25, at the half.
In the first half, especially the opening quarter, the Magic were hesitent to attack the Vikings zone defense head on. Opting to work the ball around looking for that perfect shot.
But in the third they were able to take advantage of openings as they began driving to the ring with more consistent success.
“Yeah we were attacking the gaps of their zone defense and we were able to create shots,” said Glose. “Not driving all the way, but driving and kicking (it out). We did a really good job of staying aggressive. In the first half we were just moving the ball around the perimeter. We weren’t looking to attack the gaps. The fact that we were so much more aggressive in the second half that was huge.”
Hughes sank the last of her four 3’s with just under three minutes to play in the game to give the Magic a 54-48 lead.
The Magic by no means thought the game was over, but the bucket did in fact give them a little breathing room and put all the pressure on the Vikings.
“There was a little breathing room, but I knew we still had to play hard to keep the lead.” Hughes said.
“I thought we were a lot more confident in the second half which helped with out shooting and our driving.”
The Vikings, who were led by Imani Dockery’s 16 points, were aggressive on defense and never gave up. They just couldn’t sink clutch shots or make big defensive stops when it was needed most. They will try to learn from this game as they regroup and get ready for Monday’s rematch.
“I think since we’re playing them again Monday we’re just gonna work harder in practice,” said Nichols senior guard Jill Boltz.
“We’re gonna work on our passes and our layups and just work better as a team.”
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