NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo High School girls basketball team fended off a furious fourth-quarter rally by River Valley to win a March 24 Division 4 district semifinal contest by a 46-38 score.
“We definitely had to fight for it,” said New Buffalo’s Abby Vitale. “At the end the crowd was so loud, it was back and forth, down and back, it was a vey fast game. But I think we just really wanted to pull it off art the end.”
The Mustangs built an early 8-7 lead before the Bison finished the first quarter on a 6-0 run powered by Nadia Collins and Sophia DeOliveira field goals.
New Buffalo opened up a 24-13 margin in the second period as Ava Mullen and Aaron James sank three-pointers.
River Valley closed the gap during quarter number three as baskets by Hailey Hauch and Taylor Volstorf helped pull RV within five points (30-25) entering the fourth.
The Bison upped their lead to nine (34-25) early in the final frame as DeOliveira and Collins tallied baskets.
The Mustangs began their rally with 6:05 left in regulation as Hauch sank a “3.” A basket by Macey Springer, two free throws from Natalyn Heckathorn, and Volstorf’s drive to the hoop pulled River Valley within a single point of the lead (35-34) at the 4:38 mark.
New Buffalo answered as DeOliveira and Collins converted offensive rebounds into buckets to forge a 39-34 margin.
River Valley made one last run, with a Springer score and a free throw by Hauch cutting the Bison advantage to 40-38.
But the Bison finished the game on a 6-0 run that began with a block by Allie Smith and a DeOliveira foul shot, and gained momentum as Kelsey Corkran twice drove the basket and scored in the late going to make it a 43-38 ball-game.
“We were definitely wanting to score to keep the lead, and I saw an opportunity,” Corkran said.
New Buffalo forced a turnover and went 3-for-4 at the line down the stretch.
DeOliveria paced the Bison with 19 points. Collins added 9 points.
“We just had to get back in the right mindset, start slowing things down, and we got back into it,” Collins said.
New Buffalo coach Scott Syme said River Valley played a great second half.
“They’re a good team and we knew they were going to make a run at us. We’re happy to get out of here with a win.”
Hauch finished with 15 points for the Mustangs on her birthday while Springer scored 10 and Volstorf added 6 points.
River Valley coach Jason Alexander said he was proud of his team’s effort, adding he thought both teams played really sound defense.
“We just made a few more mistakes than they did tonight, and they executed on that,” he added.