WOODBURY — In a Berkshire League girls basketball game twisted by ironies, the league’s two best offensive teams — Nonnewaug and Northwestern — both undefeated, both regularly outscoring opponents by 20 and 30 points — turned it into a bruising defensive struggle Tuesday night at Nonnewaug High School.
The Chiefs, ice cold for most of the game while starting two freshmen and a junior, along with a pair of seniors, won 36-32 over Northwestern because they found their poise in the final period, coming back from a 10-point deficit to hold the Highlanders, starting four seniors and a junior, to 0 points in the period and making the shots they had to.
Freshman Sam Conti scored six of her eight points in the period, shooting 4-for-6 from the foul line.
Junior Ashley Hennessey, stymied all night trying to drive through the Highlander defense, shot 3-for-4 from the foul line, then came outside for a crucial 3-pointer that vaulted Nonnewaug into its first lead of the night with 41 seconds left.
“Both teams made life difficult for each other,” Nonnewaug coach Adam Brutting said. “(Down 32-22 going into the final period), I told them to work harder than we have been and look to trap.”
“They took us out of our game in the fourth period,” Northwestern coach Fred Williams said. “The free throw line just killed us.”
Plagued all game by Nonnewaug’s collapsing defense on their efforts to force the ball inside to forward standouts Natalie Lederman and Jana Sanden, the Highlanders went 0-for-4 from the line in the final period, including a pair of 1-and-1 opportunities that might have saved them.
Still, concerted efforts by guard Skylar Dimartino with six of her 12 points in the first quarter and 4-for-4 free-throw shooting in the third and three 3-pointers by freshman Morgan Plitt (11 points) in the second and third periods, were enough to keep Northwestern ahead.
Then came the final fourth-quarter irony.
As the Chiefs clamped down on defense, Abby Scheurich dove in for a put-back, Conti went 2-for-2 from the line, then raced her own steal to the basket for 32-28.
Hennessey went 3-for-4 from the foul line, 32-31, then sank her three-pointer. Conti iced it, 2-for-4 from the foul line in the final seconds.
“They were more aggressive than we were,” Williams said.