Napoleon scored nine-straight points late in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer by Emma Pedroza with 48 seconds remaining, to lift the Lady Cats past Perrysburg 52-47 in Northern Lakes League action Tuesday in the Grand Canyon.
It was the 19th-straight NLL win for the Lady Cats, who started the run with a win at Perrysburg during the 2019-20 season and also needed overtime last year to beat the Yellow Jackets.
“I am extremely proud of how we played in the second half,” said Napoleon coach Corey Kreinbrink, who switched his team’s defense from a zone in the first half to man-to-man after intermission. “We haven’t been playing well on offense lately. When you play good teams that are fundamentally sound and big you can’t just out-athlete them. We moved the ball better in the second half. Hopefully we use this as a learning experience.”
Pedroza led the Lady Cats with 16 points, while Taylor Strock added 15 and Kalli Helberg tallied 7 points and finished with a team-high 10 rebounds.
“Going into the fourth quarter, we knew we needed to get more inside shots,” said Pedroza. “We wanted to play more as a team. Instead of looking for individual shots, we came together as a team and started looking for the best shot as a group.”
Perrysburg was led by 6-1 senior center Bella Vaillant, who had 22 points and 15 rebounds. She scored 10 points of the Yellow Jackets’ 11 points in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Cats trailed most of the game, including by 13 midway through the third quarter and by eight with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the game.
That’s when Napoleon began chipping away at the Lady Jackets’ lead.
Helberg scored off an assist from Caely Ressler and Sophie Chipps fed Strock in the post to make it 40-36. After a putback by Vaillant, Helberg grabbed two offensive rebounds to keep a possession alive that was finally capped by a triple from Strock.
Vaillant missed two foul shots and Pedroza scored inside the paint to pull Napoleon to within 42-41 with 3 1/2 minutes left on the clock.
Perrysburg answered with three-straight points, including another putback by Vaillant. Strock scored to stop the short run and after a turnover by Perrysburg, Ressler hit a jumper to tie the game at 45.
Pedroza’s triple gave Napoleon its first lead since 7-5 early in the opening period.
“Emma puts herself in those spots to make those kind of shots,” said Kreinbrink. “The shot was in rhythm. It was a good look.”
“I heard Coach K in my head saying, ‘Hit it,’” said Pedroza. “That gave me a little extra energy push, and it felt good.”
Napoleon closed the game with Pedroza and Strock each making two free throws in one-and-one situations in the final seconds to seal the win.
“Nobody has worked harder the last three weeks on free throws than Emma,” said Kreinbrink. “She has missed the front end of some big free throws this season. We adjusted her foul shooting a little bit and changed her focus. For the last couple weeks we can’t end practice until she makes two (free throws) in a row.”
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates,” added Pedroza. “Each one of them came up and told me I could do it. They gave me the confidence to make them.”
Napoleon trailed 25-15 at intermission after shooting 6 of 24 in the first half and not scoring for the final 4:55 of the second quarter.
Perrysburg pushed the lead to 35-22 after a triple by Macie Stringfellow with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The Lady Cats closed the period on an 8-1 run to make it 36-30 entering the final period.
Ella Rausch started the run and Pedroza capped it with a 3-pointer.
Napoleon is now 11-1 overall and 2-0 in the NLL and travels to Southview Thursday.
Perry 15 10 11 11 — 47
Nap 9 6 15 22 — 52
Perrysburg — Stringfield 0-1-3-6, Griggs 2-1-0-7, Thomas 0-3-3, Wilhelms 0-3-0-9, Vaillant 9-1-1-22. Totals: 11-5-7-47.
Napoleon — Chipps 0-1-0-3, Strock 4-1-4-15, Pedroza 4-2-2-16, Helberg 2-1-0-7, Rausch 2-0-4, Ressler 2-1-0-7. Totals 14-6-6-52.