The Turpin Spartans hosted the Little Miami Panthers in the opener of the 2017-18 basketball season. Although Turpin started the game tentatively, the squad, loaded with upper classman, erased a 9 point first quarter deficit by outscoring the Panthers 40-29 in the final three quarters for a 45-42 victory.
A bit of nerves affected the home team as the offense couldn’t find it’s groove during the opening quarter. Savanah Hazenfield started the scoring with a baseline jumper, but the Spartans were struggling in the paint early in the period. After a few minutes of play, the hosts started to take back the lane and the boards. Corinne Nikolai grabbed an offensive rebound and got fouled on the put back – she calmly sank both free throws. Ellie Holt took advantage of her defensive match up and drove to hoop and drew a foul which resulted in 1 of 2 from the line. Turpin was down 13-5 after the 1st.
In the 2nd, the visitors got a dose of Hazenfield as the Spartans senior guard hit three 3 pointers in the quarter. Elise Schulok got on the ledger with layup thanks to a fine interior pass from Olivia Hamilton as the hosts took their first lead of the game, 18-16 with 3 minutes left in the half. The Panthers continued to shoot well and found themselves up a basket and holding the ball for the final shot of the half; however, Holt stripped the ball from the Panther guard in the paint and went the length of the court for a layup just before the half-time horn. Turpin had stormed back to tie the game 22-22 at the break.
A resurgent Spartans squad came out of the locker room and kept the momentum in their favor. Schulok took a baseline pass from Nikolai for a short jumper. Then Hazenfield scored the next 6 points with a lone free throw, a baseline jumper and her 4th 3-pointer of the contest. The Panthers weren’t going away as they matched the Spartans basket for basket. After a pair of Holt free throws, Nikolai hit a 3 pointer as the hosts held a slim one-point lead. A Schulok basket off the inbounds play rounded out the Spartans scoring for the period as the hosts led 37-36 going into the 4th.
The final frame saw Hazenfield hit another baseline jumper, then she offered up a nifty pass to Hamilton running the floor on the break for a lay-up. The Spartan defense held the visitors to just one field goal and with 1:13 remaining, led by a single point after the Panthers hit two free throws and called timeout. The ensuing inbounds play found Nikolai with ball in the center back court where she was fouled to stop the clock. With both teams in the bonus, Corinne calmly converted both free throws for a 43-40 lead with under a minute to play. Knowing they could concede a two pointer, the Spartan defense canvased the perimeter to deny a game tying 3-point attempt. The Panthers eventually scored a lay up to cut the lead to one, but they burned up significant time on the clock. With just 3 seconds remaining, Hazenfield found Nikolai on the inbounds play where she was immediately fouled. Again, Nikolai sank both free throws to put the Spartans up three with 1 second to play. The desperation shot from the Panthers never materialized as Turpin prevailed in a most entertaining game.
Scoring: Hazenfield 19; Nikolai 9; Holt 8; Schulok 7; Hamilton 2.