LIGONIER — The Whitko Lady Wildcats traveled north Thursday night to face the West Noble Lady Chargers in a non-conference basketball matchup. A furious fourth quarter rally by the Lady Wildcats put the Lady Wildcats in a position to win, but the loss of two important players and game-long free throw woes sent the Lady ‘Cats down to a 53-51 overtime loss to the Lady Chargers.
The visiting Lady Wildcats got solid first quarter performances from junior Jordan Hall with four points and 10 first-quarter rebounds, and senior Melanie Kelsey who knocked down two 3-pointers to post a 12-4 lead at the end of the first period.
Ten second-quarter turnovers by the Lady Wildcats coupled with the inside play of the Lady Chargers’ 6-foot-2 center Haley Richardson, who poured in nine second-period points, erased the Wildcat lead and gave the host Chargers a 21-16 lead at halftime.
In the fourth, West Noble extended its lead to 13 at 38-25 before Whitko started its comeback. Two baskets by Josie Sparks brought the margin under 10, before the first of two fourth-quarter threes by Kelly Reiff brought the brought the Wildcats within four at 41-37. Kelsey’s second 3-pointer of the period knotted the score at 40, and yet another three by Reiff put the Wildcats in front 43-41.
The Wildcats lost Hall to an ankle injury and Sparks to her fifth foul within 30 seconds of each other midway through the extra period as the host Chargers escaped with a 53-51 win.
“You can’t take away anything from our effort,” said Whitko Head Coach Brandon Bradley. “We were down 13 with 6 minutes left in the fourth and we got five points in about the next 10 seconds. Our kids fought and fought and fought. We had our opportunities.”
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Kelsey with 15 points and five 3-pointers. Sparks and Reiff both added 10 points apiece for the Wildcats, with Hall tossing in eight, along with her 22 rebounds.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday with a home contest against Three Rivers Conference foe Tippecanoe Valley.