Nietzke sparks Lions to victory in overtime
Shawnee Lansing High senior Amanda Radovich had a career-high 30 points Friday night in Lansing's 67-62 victory at Mill Valley, but she was quick to give credit where it was due.
"Katie completely took over the game," Radovich said, referring to sophomore point guard Katie Nietzke. "I think she was the difference in the game today."
Few in attendance would argue.
Lansing (3-2 overall, 2-0 Kaw Valley League) blew a 15-point lead in the second half before Nietzke willed LHS to victory. She scored all seven of the Lions' points during the first overtime period, and then added a steal, layup and free throw in the second overtime to help put the game away.
She finished the night with a career-high 17 points.
"I feel confident in what I have and what I can do with this team now that I have a year under me," Nietzke said, explaining her unflinching late-game confidence. "I feel that my team is very confident in me also, so that gives me a little boost."
The Lions never should have needed Nietzke's boost if they'd simply taken care of business early. They certainly had plenty of opportunities. They dominated the first half and their full-court press worked to perfection as they forced seven straight turnovers during one stretch of the first quarter.
Radovich scored 16 points in the half and helped Lansing take a 26-14 lead into halftime. The advantage could have been much more comfortable, but it made just 10 of 18 free throws during the first two quarters.
A put-back by Radovich with 5:54 left in the third quarter pushed the lead to 15 points, but then the Jaguars began to rally. Carly Santularia scored seven points during a 15-10 run to close the quarter.
The momentum continued to shift more to Mill Valley as the fourth quarter opened. Its crowd grew louder and it played with more confidence. An 11-5 run trimmed Lansing's lead to 49-45 with 2:10 left. A pair of free throws by Radovich pushed the lead to 51-45, but Mill Valley closed regulation on a 6-0 run to tie the game and force overtime.
Lansing turned the ball over on five straight possessions in the first overtime. Meanwhile, Mill Valley jumped to a 55-51 lead. That's when Nietzke took over. She drove to the basket and was fouled with 1:03 remaining. She hit both free throws to make it 55-53.
After two free throws by the Jaguars' Kelsey O'Hara, Nietzke splashed in a three-pointer from the top of the key with 32 seconds remaining. It was 57-56.
Mill Valley's Maggie Barnett sank a free throw to give her team a two-point lead, but she missed the second shot and Lansing got the ball one last time. Nietzke pulled up from 15 feet out and sank a jumper to tie the game at 58-58 and force another extra period.
Suddenly the momentum shifted back to Lansing thanks to the sophomore spark-plug.
"In the overtime she stepped up," Andrews said. "She wanted the ball, she did a great job of being aggressive with it, she knocked some free throws down, knocked shots down and defended pretty good."
Nichole Twitchel sank a pair of free throws with 3:27 left in the second overtime to put the Lions ahead, but Barnett answered with a 17-footer at the other end. Radovich drained two from the line, and Elise Umbarger answered with a layup at the other end to tie the game at 62-62 with 1:04 left.
Twitchel had an opportunity to give Lansing the lead again when she was fouled with 44 seconds remaining, but she missed both free throws. Suddenly it was Mill Valley's turn to go for the win - only Nietzke had one more trick up her sleeve.
She darted out in front of Santularia and stole a pass at midcourt, raced to the other end, made her layup and was fouled. She swished her free throw to give the Lions a 65-62 lead with 27 seconds left. That proved to be the final dagger because Mill Valley turned the ball on its ensuing possession. That led to a layup by Radovich at the buzzer that sealed the victory.
Although Lansing got the victory, Friday marked the second league game that it blew a big lead before hanging on for the win. LHS was up by 18 on Basehor-Linwood Tuesday night before winning by three.
Although the inability to put opponents away early is cause for concern, Nietzke said the fact that the Lions still found a way to win both games was a sign of the team's character.
"We pulled it through both times, and I think that shows how strong we can be and how much of a team we are to pull it out," she said.
In addition to Radovich and Nietzke's career-highs, Twitchel scored 10 points for the Lions. Rachel Darrow added six points, and Morgan Chiles and Riann Deere added two apiece.
Lansing will take two weeks off for winter break and then return to action at 6 p.m. Jan. 3 at home against Tonganoxie.
MILL VALLEY 60, LANSING BOYS 44
Mill Valley senior Jack Johnson bombed in five three-pointers and scored a game-high 16 points Friday night, but that wasn't what beat the Lansing boys on Friday night.
Instead, the Lions were beat because they were outworked and outhustled all night long, coach Don Allen said.
"Sometimes you run into teams and you might think you're playing hard, but they show you how to play hard. Mill Valley's one of those teams," Allen said. "There was a noticeable difference (in intensity)."
Lansing spent most of the game searching for a spark. Meanwhile, Mill Valley received early ignition from Johnson as he sank two three-pointers in the first two minutes to give MVHS an 8-2 lead.
"Johnson's one of the best shooters in the league, period," Allen said. "He hits open jump shots. That's the bottom line."
The Lions (2-3 overall, 1-1 Kaw Valley League) rallied to pull within 9-7 on a free throw by Chris Wagner with 4:09 left in the first quarter, but the Jaguars responded with a 16-5 run to go on top 25-12. The lead remained in double figures the rest of the way.
LHS started the third quarter on a high note as Matt Warner knocked down a jumper, Jeff Slater scored on a putback and David Kern scored on a lay-in to make it 34-22, but a 7-0 run by Mill Valley ended any hopes of a rally.
The differences between the two squads were clear. Lansing had 18 turnovers to just 11 for Mill Valley. The Jaguars knocked down open shots and capitalized on every scoring opportunity. They beat the Lions to loose balls and applied more pressure.
"It's hard for me to believe that Mill Valley is in that much better shape than we are," Allen said. "When you looked at them, you saw that they were sweating and some of their kids were puffing. But when the ball was in play, they were going at it."
Allen said the one Lansing player who approached Mill Valley's intensity level Friday night was junior forward Jeff Jackson. He scored eight points, had a half-dozen rebounds and three steals. He also batted away numerous inbounds passes.
"I'm proud of the way Jeff Jackson showed up tonight," Allen said. We talked about the fact that when there's loose balls, when there's the opportunity to get tips, when there's opportunities to come back and play catch-up and tip it away somewhere, he (was doing those things)."
In addition to Jackson's points, Warner scored 12 for Lansing. Kern added eight, Slater had six, Wagner and Austin Reynolds had four apiece and Cody Mohan scored two.
Lansing is off the next two weeks for winter break. It will return to action at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 3 at home against Tonganoxie.