Experience. A seasoned, veteran group of Lady Indians responded to Coach Marv West’s move in the fourth Monday night “and that has made all the difference” as Oneida turned a 36-29 deficit into a 48-37 lead en route to a 50-42 victory.
After playing a soft zone for the better part of three periods, Coach West implored the Tribe to turn up the wicks a notch and play man up throughout the fourth. His squad bought in as experience was king, trumping Coach Rusty Yaden’s youth-laden and inexperienced squad to the tune of a 19-1 run to seize control of a game that had been a knock-down, drag-out battle for three periods.
With the win-or-go-home victory behind them, Oneida would improve to 22-6 on the season. And more importantly, the Lady Indians would live to battle another day. That day will be Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on The Reservation vs. a 24-0 Tellico Plains squad.
On the night, the trio of Kelsey Pike, Gracie Martin, and Katelyn Stiltner would come up big on the offensive end on a number of occasions, including a game-changing 18 points in the fourth to lead the comeback. It was Pike leading the way with a game-high 17 points, three boards, three assists and two steals. Martin — who was saddled by foul trouble in the first half — closed strong to finish the night with 13 points and five boards. Stiltner also closed strong to finish with a double-double, 11 points and 10 boards. Stiltner would also dish out three assists and record a blocked shot. The aforementioned trio had plenty of help in the form of Emily Wisner, Jacey Manis, Caroline Bell, Braelyn Russ and Raylie Bush. Wisner was all over the court, creating chaos defensively while finishing the night with six points. Wisner would also pull five boards and record two steals. Manis was quiet for three periods but stuck the dagger through the Tigers’ heart in the fourth with a huge triple at just the right time. Manis would also finish with three boards and four steals. The defensive pressure of Bell, Russ, and Bush also played a nice part in the Lady Indians game plan — it’s not always about scoring but helping to hold your opponent.
The Lady Indians would take leads of 8-4 and 13-8 before Sunbright hit a buzzer-beating triple to end the first, pulling to within a single point at 13-12 heading into the second. Stiltner started the game with a bucket to put Oneida up 2-0. It was two Martin charity tosses and deuce and a Wisner bucket that put Oneida up 8-4. Capping the period off with a triple and a drive to the rack was Pike with a quick five points to give the good guys a five-point lead before the Lady Tigers’ rally.
Oneida had appeared to weather the storm as Pike and Stiltner scored early in the frame to help the Lady Indians to a 17-13 lead. However, Oneida would go stone cold for some time, allowing the Lady Tigers to go on a 10-0 run to take a 23-17 before Pike scored late in the frame to pull Oneida to within four points at the break, 23-19.
Things appeared to be trending up to start the third as Oneida would rip off eight straight points to start the period to take a 27-23 lead. However, Sunbright got 3-pointer happy, including another buzzer-beater to end the frame on a 13-2 run to take a 36-29 lead into the fourth. Helping Oneida out of the gates on the 8-0 run were Pike and Wisner, each knocking home a pair of charity tosses and a bucket. Oneida’s lone remaining points in the frame came via a Martin step back.
The fourth period was all Oneida as the troops went man-to-man, locking down and frustrating the Lady Tigers to the tune of a 19-1 run out of the gate, turning a seven-point deficit into an 11-point lead before settling for the eight-point victory, 50-42. It was a period for the ages as two Pike charity tosses and two big buckets from Martin (including a triple) helped the Lady Indians knot the game at 36-36. Stiltner would then give Oneida the lead for good as she put a move on the Sunbright big to give her team a 38-36 lead. Another Martin bucket on an assist from Stiltner and a Manis triple on an assist from Pike would give the Lady Indians their biggest lead to this point in the game, 43-36. After a Sunbright charity toss, an and-one from Stiltner and two more Pike charity tosses would put Oneida up 48-37. The Lady Tigers would get as close as 6 points at 48-42 before Stiltner capped the scoring by knocking down both ends of a one-and-one to close out the 50-42 victory.
ONEIDA (50): Pike 17, Manis 3, Martin 13, Stiltner 11, and Wisner 6.
SUNBRIGHT (42): Nitzschke 3, Northrup 17, Cox 11, Smith 8, and Brown 3.