RACHEL — “Number 10, white with a tackle,” the referee joked after North Marion’s Cara Egress upended Grafton’s Tessa Clark during a scuffle for a loose ball with about 20 seconds left.
The comment was meant in jest — with a wink and a smile it was a jab at the play where Egress grabbed Clark by the ankle and sent her tumbling to the ground — but in all seriousness, it’s probably the best way to describe the Huskies’ physical, foul-filled 54-47 victory over the Bearcats at North Marion High School Thursday night.
“There were bodies all over the place. It was rough. Both teams had a lot of fouls,” said North Marion coach Mike Parrish. “Really there was no flow to the game. Everything we did we had to work for.”
Senior Noca Singleton put it more concisely.
“It was like a football game,” she said.
The 6-foot-1 center did her part to contribute to the rough contest. She never shied away from contact in the paint, pulling down eight rebounds, blocking three shots and scoring six points.
She also left the game in the fourth quarter with a technical foul when the referee deemed that she tossed the ball at a Grafton player.
“The ref was right behind me and (Clark) was right beside him. I was throwing the ball to the ref and they thought I was throwing at her face,” Singleton pleaded.
From the start it was clear that the game could get sloppy when neither team scored for the first several minutes. No. 5 North Marion (11-2, 4-1 Big 10) was able to muster up just a bit more offense than Grafton (6-3) and led at every break. However, the Huskies never took full control to put the game completely out of reach.
With bodies flying around and baskets hard to come by, foul shooting became critical. Grafton coach Steve Smith called it “the difference.”
“I told the girls at halftime if we made foul shots in the second half I thought we could pull the upset,” he said. “But we didn't do that.”
North Marion’s Megan Haller, meanwhile, missed just a single shot from the penalty stripe. In total, 15 of her team-leading 21 points were earned at the line.
Freshman Presley Tuttle joined her sophomore teammate in double figures with 12 points. Christa Tobin and Anna Marie Moscufo added six points each, and Brittany Sigley scored three points.
Grafton’s 6-foot-1 forward Tessa Clark was the only Bearcat in double figures. She scored 21 points.
“She did a nice job down low and gave us a lot of fits,” Parrish said.
The coach added that he was pleased with the final score, but not so much with the way it was earned.
“I told them after the game: ‘You did enough to win, but we've got to start getting better,’” he said.
The Huskies will have their next shot to do that Saturday when they host Preston.
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.