FORT WAYNE — Apparently life without a Miss Basketball is going to include a lot of three-pointers for the Norwell girls basketball team.
The Knights rode their long-range shooting in the second half to a season-opening 61-40 win over host Bishop Dwenger on Saturday. It was Norwell’s first game in four years without Jessica Rupright, the 2012 Miss Basketball.
Norwell connected on 10 of 17 threes in the second half as it outscored the Saints 44-18. The Knights went 3 for 19 on three-pointers in the first half and trailed 22-17 at halftime.
“You don’t go into a game saying I hope we can get 40 threes,” Norwell coach Eric Thornton said. “But it was what we were able to get tonight. As long as it is out of the flow, and we get our feet set, we are going to take that shot. We have kids who can knock it down despite what the first half looked like.”
The 6-foot-2 Rupright averaged 21.2 points and 8.0 rebounds last year for the Knights before leaving for Miami (Ohio).
“We are very much a guard-oriented team,” Thornton said. “We have the ability to score in different ways, and we are certainly not running it through a back-to-the-basket player (Rupright) this year.”
The three-point barrage worked against a variety of Dwenger zone defenses – at least in the second half.
“We scraped, and we kept ourselves in the game as ugly as we shot it in the first half,” Thornton said. “The press helped us to start the third quarter, just to get to being the aggressors again because we didn’t play as the aggressors in the first half. Overall, it was a totally different game in the second half.”
Sophomore Hanna Smith missed all seven of her three-pointers in the first half and made five of seven in the second half. Smith finished with 17 points.
“It’s always those first-game nerves,” Smith said. “In the first half, I was rushing it a lot. In the second half, I took my time and got my feet set and I actually knew I was going to make it. I had the confidence in me and knew it was going to go in the hoop.”
Paige Frisch scored 11 points, six in the fourth quarter, for Norwell.
Despite having 18 turnovers, the Saints led by five after the first half because of the Knights’ poor shooting and a 23-10 rebounding margin. Ally Christman led Dwenger with 16 points.
“We didn’t get out on them as well,” Dwenger coach Dave Scudder said of the Norwell shooters. “We got a little bit tired and our weak-side person started dropping to the basket too far. Once we got behind, our offense sputtered. Once they got on a roll, they played better, and we didn’t.”