North Rome Christian School wins NSCAA title
ELMIRA, N.Y. - Down 22-9 at halftime North Rome Christian School did what any team in their situation would do.
"I know personally for me I actually prayed a lot for the second half," North Rome's Cristen Mosier remarked. "I was like 'Oh my word, please.'"
They came out a whole different team in the second half after that, out scoring the Binghamton Blaze 23-3 to win the North South Christian Athletic Association girls' basketball title 34-25 Friday.
"That was a horrible start," North Rome's Sarah Malkemes admitted. "It was really awesome how we pulled together and came back into it. We had to pick up our chins up and encourage each other, that's what really made the difference."
The Eagles did this with only one returning starter from last season.
"It's amazing," Mosier said about winning the title. "We weren't out to prove anything but it's nice that we were able to carry on from last year, especially since we lost four starters. It was really awesome to be able to do that."
Everything went right for the Binghamton Homeschoolers in the first quarter.
Courtney Wright scored eight points in the post for the Blaze to put them up 8-1 on North Rome. Then late in the quarter Erica Lamb added back to back buckets to put the homeschoolers up 12-1 after the opening quarter.
Binghamton saw five different players score in the second quarter to extend their lead.
North Rome wouldn't get their first field goal until halfway through the second quarter but once they found the net their offense found a rhythm.
Malkemes and C.J. Miller hit back to back threes followed by a Mosier steal and lay-up cut the deficit to 22-9 at the half.
In the second half it was a whole different story.
North Rome kept their offensive momentum while using a four guard defense anchored by Mosier to keep Binghamton's offense off the rails.
Mosier and Malkemes kept their run from the end of the second quarter going with back to back threes at the beginning of the third. Mosier got a steal and lay-up to cut the deficit to 22-17.
Another Malkemes three made it 22-20 late in the quarter.
Erica Needels hit a lay-up with 10 seconds to go in the quarter, the Blaze's only basket of the second half, to push Binghamton's lead to 24-20 after the third quarter but North Rome now had all the momentum.
Their hot shooting continued into the fourth quarter as Mosier hit a three to cut the deficit to one. That's when their pressure defense came to fruition as they scored three straight lay-ups off steals to go up 29-24.
Malkemes then found Olivia Noone for a lay-up, making it 31-24 Eagles.
A Needels free throw cut it to 31-25 but that's as close as Binghamton would get.
North Rome finished the game off with free throws, including a 2-for-2 showing by Malkemes, to ice the game.
"It's very nerve racking," Malkemes said about being on the foul line late. "Whenever it's a tight game like this I always sit there and I pray."
Being able to seal the game from the foul line was something North Rome had been expecting coming in.
"We worked really hard on those," Malkemes explained. "We had a fundraiser where we shot 100 free throws and that's what helped right there."
Mosier had a double-double of 15 points and 13 boards while adding five blocks and three steals. Malkemes added 14 points while Miller scored three.
Noone rounded out the NRCS scoring with two points to go with five boards and four steals.
Wright led the Blaze with 10 points while Needels added seven. Erica Lamb scored six with Alexis Lamb and Esther Griffith adding one point each.
This game will likely go down as a classic for NRCS with their big rally.
"I think part of it might have been we were a little upset," Mosier explained about the change of play from the first half to second half. "That kind of drove us."
It also helped that they didn't put extra pressure on the situation.
"Coach (Kurt Brown) just told us we had a good season," explained Mosier. "This game doesn't really change the fact that we had an excellent season so just go out there and play what were capable of. We tried just calming down and we were able to put it together."