High School

Perserverance: Lady Huskies Defy The Odds To Advance To 4th Straight State Tournament

Perserverance: Lady Huskies Defy The Odds To Advance To 4th Straight State Tournament
Written by 
Tyler Nichols
March 6, 2023

ONEIDA - Perseverance.

That’s the word North Greene coach James Buchanan’s team chose to describe their mentality through the season. At times, they were limited to only six players on some nights. A lot of setbacks and a lot of injuries put their postseason odds in jeopardy early.

But what did they do? They persevered.

After a hard-fought 40-39 victory over Oneida on the road, the Lady Huskies are headed back to the Class 1A State Tournament for the fourth year in a row.

“I’m a blessed man to be able to coach that group,” Buchanan said. “We only had nine players this season. There were multiple injuries throughout the year and there were several games where we only suited up six. They just preserved. They picked that word and they wanted to use that word for the remaining part of our season.”

In one of the most unpredictable seasons of Coach Buchanan’s tenure at North Greene High School, the head of the table proved why he’s one of the best by leading his girls back to the state tournament. Seniors Sonya Wagner, Zoe Sanders, Grace Buchanan, and Cambell Gaby will finish their careers having made it to Murfreesboro all four years of their career.

“For them to be rewarded with this is so storybook,” Buchanan expressed. “As far as this group goes, at this point nothing would surprise me now.”

The Lady Huskies made a statement early with four-straight points from Sonya Wagner on their opening pair of possessions.

Oneida failed to score on their first four possessions, but finally got a bucket to fall from the hands of Raylie Bush.

Cambell Gaby started to notice the Lady Indians were leaving the back door unlocked too often. The senior cut behind the defense in transition for two back-door layups to give North Greene an early 8-2 advantage.

The Lady Huskies failed to lockdown the paint on a few occasions and let Oneida score their next six points in the paint. Kelsey Pike laid in the first layup and Lydia Kline added a pair next.

You would have thought after two early layups that Oneida would start finding Cambell Gaby every time she jogged down the floor on offense. That wouldn’t be the case as she add another layup to score her sixth point of the quarter. Her next shot attempt would get blocked under the basket but quickly fired the ball to Grace Buchanan in the corner for a three-point bomb.

North Greene walked off the court at the end of the first quarter with a 15-8 lead.

Hannah Miller was a rebounding machine in the paint with the biggest size advantage on the court. An offensive put back extended their lead to 19-11.

Braelyn Russ helped Oneida inch closer with a three-point bucket. Kelsey Pike’s layup finished off a 5-0 run for the Lady Indians and cut the score down to one possession.

Wagner gave North Greene a boost with a running bank shot on the right block.

Pike scored six-straight points for Oneida and put the gap at only three points going into the half.

The Lady Huskies went into the break leading 23-20.

The third quarter proved to be a test for both teams. Twenty-six total points were scored in the highest scoring frame of the contest. Both teams traded bucket-for-bucket the whole time.

Miller scored the first basket of the second half off the backboard, but Oneida's Bush came right back with a three-pointer on the next possession. Wagner got an unlucky roll on a running floater that just rimmed out, Miller gravitated towards the ball and scored another two points off a put back.

Gaby nailed a two-point bucket from long range with her foot on the line for the Lady Huskies. But then Pike drained a three-point basket to even the score at 30-30. Elli West gave the Lady Indians their first lead of the night at the charity stripe.

Wagner flipped up a baseline floater that found the bottom of the net to regain the lead for North Greene.

Lydia Kline catapulted Oneida back into the lead with five-straight points on a layup and three-pointer for a 36-33 advantage going into the fourth quarter.

With eight minutes left to decide the fate of their season, the Lady Huskies put together one of their best defensive efforts all year to get the job done. They only allowed three points in the fourth quarter and held Oneida to zero field goals.

Gaby found another hole through the back side of the press and downed another layup to put the Lady Huskies within one. Wagner dribbled off a screen and separated herself enough to splash a huge three-point dagger that vaulted North Greene ahead 38-36.

Oneida still had trouble trying to get a shot to fall and were left empty handed on every possession.

With a minute left on the clock Gaby stripped the net from the free throw line to extend the lead to three points.

With 36 seconds remaining Pike finally broke the scoreless drought for Oneida with a free throw.

Sonya Wagner was fouled with the ball and missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Lady Indians a chance to tie or take the lead.

Russ got sent to the foul line and knocked down both of her free throw opportunities to tie the game at 39-39 with 17 seconds to go.

After missing the front end of her previous trip to the line, Wagner redeemed herself by draining the go-ahead free throw.

Oneida would call a timeout with 7.2 seconds left with the ball on their sideline and a chance to send themselves to the state tournament. Pike received the inbounds pass and hop-stepped into a wide-open look off the glass. The shot rolled off the left side of the iron and into Gaby’s hands as the clock expired.

In one of the most improbable seasons to date, the North Greene Lady Huskies punched their ticket to the glass house by holding on to a 40-39 victory over Oneida.

“Coach West is first class. This school is first class. Those kids are first class. We see a lot of teams throughout the course of the year and as far as how a team handled themselves and as far as their dignity and their hustle and their attitude goes, I’ve got nothing but the highest level of respect for Coach West and his program here,” Buchanan mentioned.

Wagner scored 13 points and made the game-clinching free throw to win it. Gaby contributed with 12 points and Hannah Miller provided 10 points.

Pike and Russ tallied 14 points each for the Lady Indians.

North Greene will begin Class 1A State Tournament play on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. central time against Van Buren County at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.

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