Norwell beat East Noble this past Friday night to claim the Northeast 8 Conference title outright. With the win and the conference title, the Knights are the latest Summit City Sports Team of the Week in girls’ basketball.
“I thought we played really well defensively and moved the ball well on offense,” head coach Eric Thornton said. “Our bench played very well also, and that’s been a strength of ours all season.”
The Northeast 8 proved to be a particularly challenging conference this year. Six teams finished over .500 overall. And the Knights went 7-0 conference play. That included a win against Columbia City, who was ranked number #1 in the IBCA poll at the time (the Eagles are currently ranked number #2).
“In a year where the NE8 was really strong as a whole, it means a lot to our team to win it outright,” Thornton said. “It’s so hard to win a conference championship, especially this year, so I’m extremely proud of our team for setting a goal that was difficult to achieve.”
In Friday’s game, Norwell put together a great defensive effort, something they’re no strangers to. They’ve held 13 opponents to less than 50 points. In this case, they held East Noble to 33. East Noble was 13-7 going into that game. Norwell also did a great job forcing turnovers. Kennedy Fuelling came up with nine steals, and Makenzie Fuess had four.
“Our defensive effort against East Noble was huge,” Thornton said. “That’s what we’re looking for, to be disruptive and force low-percentage shots and create turnovers that lead to points for us.”
Fuelling and Fuess were also Norwell’s leading scorers in that game. Fuelling led the Knights with 27 points. Fuess wasn’t too far behind. She scored 22.
“Kennedy and Makenzie attacked well off the drive and shot well from the arc,” Thornton said. “They both have been so instrumental in our success, and they are the first to credit their teammates for helping create scoring opportunities.”
After a first-round bye in sectionals, the Knights will take on host Maconaquah in Friday’s semifinal round. The Braves are 11-10 overall this year and won an overtime game against Mississinewa in the first round. One of their leaders is Miranda Still who is averaging 15.3 points per game.
“Now that we know that we’re playing Maconaquah on Friday, it’s always a challenge to play someone in sectionals on their home floor in front of their crowd,” Thornton said. “Maconaquah starts 5 seniors who play really well together. We’ll have to play well defensively, and we hope that allows us to get off to a great start.”