RACHEL — North Marion High School was filled with passion, excitement and a good old-fashioned heavyweight fight Wednesday night.
The No. 4 ranked North Marion girls’ basketball team knocked off No. 1 Fairmont Senior, 70-62, in front of a large crowd of supporters on both sides who made their opinions heard all evening long.
“It was a great atmosphere and unbelieveable crowd,” North Marion coach Mike Parrish said after the win. “It’s great to get the Rowdies (North Marion student section) back in the house and making some noise.”
The Lady Huskies didn’t get off to a great start in the top-five matchup despite the victory. They trailed 6-0 right out of the gate, causing Parrish to use an early timeout.
However, the nerves continued to show as Fairmont Senior’s lead grew to 12-4 before another forced timeout by North Marion.
NMHS would settle down in a hurry. Out of the second timeout, the team went on a 10-0 run to close out the first quarter that was ignited by a Christa Tobin steal and score. NMHS led 18-16 after eight minutes.
In an attempt to slow down the fast-paced North Marion offense, the Polar Bears used an effective full-court press that gave the Lady Huskies fits and resulted in several early miscues.
“We had some jitters early and they pressed us,” Parrish said. “We fell behind, but we battled back. That’s what we always question on this team is their heart. They showed that heart tonight.”
Fairmont Senior began to take control in the second quarter thanks in large part to Cleveland State commit Emily Stoller. The senior’s slashing abilities and several made jumpers gave the Polar Bears a 10-point lead midway through the second.
But, as they did all night, the Lady Huskies would withstand the blow.
The sophomore Tobin was unbelievable for much of the game, scoring 18 of her game-high 24 points in the second quarter. She would make seven straight points for North Marion before the halftime buzzer.
The Huskies led, 39-36.
“She kept us in it in the first half,” Parrish said of Tobin. “She was hitting some big buckets for us. She kept playing hard and didn’t come out of the game.”
The third quarter was back-and-forth much like the first two opening quarters. Scoring seemed to dwindle away, though, and was replaced with a heavy dose of whistles for a large stretch. Both teams were in the bonus just minutes into the half.
With a one-point lead, Tobin found Taylor Wells under the basket for an easy finish. It was one of Tobin’s six assists on the evening.
Wells also had a big night for the Lady Huskies, scoring 15 points and hauling in 13 rebounds.
The undersized Huskies frustrated the Polar Bears on the glass.
“We were taller than them, so we can’t let them get extra shots,” Fairmont Senior coach Corey Hines said. “They were getting all the 50-50 balls. You get one or two calls that don’t go your way and all of a sudden it’s a dogfight.”
North Marion led 52-49 after three quarters.
Fairmont Senior battled mightly to get back to tie it, but never quite could find the extra gear.
Presley Tuttle may have put the dagger in the side of the Polar Bears, scoring a bucket with two minutes to play to put the Lady Huskies up seven.
Tuttle finished with 12 points, eight steals and eight assists.
Tuttle, along with Megan Haller and Cassady Rodriguez, each made free throws to close out a very hard-fought victory.
“On any given day you can get beat,” Hines said. “That was proven tonight. We’re going to be battle tested. But everyone has to remember, you don’t have to be the best team right now. We want to be the best team in February.”
Despite the loss, the Polar Bears received a tremendous effort by Erica Bowles, who scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Stoller finished with 19 points, 13 of them coming in the opening half.
Fairmont Senior shot just 32 percent on the evening, compared to North Marion’s 42 percent.
With the win, the Lady Huskies improve to 4-0 on the season, while top-ranked FSHS has fallen for the second time already this season and sits at 1-2.
North Marion’s JV team also defeated Fairmont Senior, 69-61.
Email Joe Mitchin at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JoeMitchinTWV.