With a pair of winless girls’ basketball teams in the building at Newport Central Catholic, somebody was sure to get its first victory of the young season Wednesday night.
NewCath prevailed, defeating visiting Dixie Heights, 43-42, with nearly half its points coming from senior guard Ansley Davenport, who scored a game-high 21.
“It’s a close win, but it’s a win,” said Davenport, who added a team-best six rebounds to go with three steals. “I think it’s going to give us some momentum, and boost our confidence.”
The Thoroughbreds (1-1) dropped their opener at Cooper, despite 18 points from Davenport, who’s averaging a team-leading 19.5 per game.
They led by nine at three junctures against Dixie Heights (0-4), the last coming with a 40-31 advantage on a transition basket by Davenport with 2:13 to play. The Colonels outscored NewCath, 11-3 the rest of the way, getting a basket from junior guard Kylie Brock at the last buzzer to set the final score.
Brock finished with eight points. Senior forward Jenna Bluemlein led Dixie Heights with 16. Junior forward Brooke Davis scored nine points for the Colonels.
“We hung on. We were making some shots,” NewCath coach George Stoll said of key fourth-quarter free-throws that helped keep the Colonels at bay. “Right now, we have a long way to go, offensively. But, we’ll get better. The defense is there.”
NewCath forced the Colonels into 13 first-half turnovers while forging a one-point halftime lead. Sophomore guard Lexy Breen led the ‘Breds with five steals. Junior forward Meg Martin added three steals and three blocks for NewCath.
Dixie made it a two-possession game at 40-34 on a Davis 3-point basket with 1:51 left, and whittled the lead to four on Brock’s baseline drive with 1:06 to go. NewCath junior guard Olivia Schalk answered by sinking one of two free-throws with 1:03 left.
Schalk finished with eight points. Freshman guard Kara Zimmerman and junior center Ajia Rice added six points each for the ‘Breds.
Grace Perry’s basket underneath with 37.8 seconds remaining pulled the Colonels to within three at 41-38. Following a Dixie steal and a missed Colonels shot, the ball went out of bounds, giving possession to NewCath, which got a pair of free-throws from Davenport to push the lead back to five with 25.4 seconds left.
Dixie got a put-back basket from Davis with 8.2 remaining, making it 43-40.
“We got down by nine doing some forced things,” said Colonels coach and one-time Highlands and Xavier University standout Tara Smith. “When we forced things, they took advantage.”
Dixie Heights (0-4) – Bluemlein 8 0 16, Davis 4 0 9, Brock 3 2 8, Perry 2 2 6, East 1 0 2, Buddenburg 0 1 1. Totals 18 5 42
NewCath (1-1) – Davenport 8 4 21, Schalk 3 2 8, Zimmerman 3 0 6, Rice 3 0 6, Martin 1 0 2. Totals 18 6 43.
Halftime: NewCath, 17-16. 3-pointers: D 1 (Davis), N 1 (Davenport).