NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo High School girls basketball team hosted two games against longtime rivals during the final week of the regular season.
The Bison bested Bridgman by a 46-43 margin on Feb. 26 and dropping a 40-23 decision to River Valley on Feb. 28.
New Buffalo never trailed the Bees on Feb. 26 (although the score was knotted at 31-all early in the fourth quarter when Lily Badger drove to the hoop for a lay-up.
The Bison jumped out to an 8-0 first-period lead as Olivia Haskins and Abby Vitale contributed baskets to the fast start.
The Bees cut the margin to three points (8-5) thanks to a Hannah Lundin bucket and Savanna Tate’s three-pointer.
New Buffalo finished the opening stanza on a 7-2 run with Haskins (a “3”), Mary Mayer and Vitale scoring.
Bridgman scored the first six points of the second quarter (Kaitlin Essig, Badger and Lundin had field goals) to make it a 15-13 game.
Haskins and Mayer helped the home team build its lead back up to 20-15 by the half, and New Buffalo had upped the margin to seven points (29-22) heading into the final frame.
The Bees caught all the way up as Badger and Olivia Tomlin (a three-point play) scored ahead of Badger’s game-tying hoop.
The Bison answered with seven straight points (including baskets by Nadia Collins and Mayer to lead 38-31.
Bridgman kept the pressure on to the end, with scores from Tate (a three-pointer) and Ali Kelly followed by Lundin’s 2-for-2 trip to the foul line pulling their team within two points (40-38) with 49 second left in regulation.
The Bison held on thanks to a steal and lay-up by Vitale and free throws made by Rachel Hoffstetter (3-for-4) and Haskins.
NB coach Curtis Brewster said the Bison rebounded well and hit their free throws down the stretch.
Mayer led a balanced New Buffalo attack with 13 points. Haskins had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Vitale tallied 7 points, while Hoffstetter and Collins each score 6 points.
Tate (13 points), Badger and Lundin (10 points each) paced the Bees.
The Feb. 28 game with River Valley was close in the early going (tied at 6-6 after one quarter).
The Mustangs out-scored NB 13-6 in the second period (Jessie Rieth hit and three-pointer and totaled seven points in the second while Haizea Ruiz scored six points).
RV’s lead as large as 14 points (27-13) during the third stanza, with Rieth sinking another three-pointer and Emma Springer, Allison Schmidt and Ruiz contributing field goals.
River Valley was never threatened down the stretch, out-scoring the Bison 11-7 in the fourth quarter.
Ruiz said the Mustangs worked harder that the last time they faced New Buffalo.
Ruiz paced the Mustangs with 14 points, Rieth finished with 10 points, and Tiffany Nyatt added 6.
Mayer led the Bison with 11 points.
New Buffalo (against host Michigan Lutheran) and River Valley (versus Lake Michigan Catholic) were slated to begin Division 4 district tournament play on Wednesday, March 6.
The Bees were defeated by Bangor in a Monday, March 4, Division 3 district contest.