FORT WAYNE—Thanks to senior night at North Side High School, Zorana Lincner's 21 points came from off the bench as the junior almost single-handedly put Bellmont out of contention last night in a 61-48 win over the Squaws.
Offense came at a premium with North Side's normal starters getting some pine while the seniors were in the limelight. It was 7-7 with 4:00 to play in the first quarter before things changed quickly and for the worst for Bellmont.
Lincner entered the game and immediately drained a three-pointer from the wing to put the Redskins up by a trio. On the very next possession she snatched a rebound, then went coast to coast for a difficult two at the rim between a pair of Squaws. The junior's pace as well as 11 first quarter turnovers for Bellmont led to a change in the game's landscape.
By the end of the first quarter, North Side enjoyed a 12-point lead, while Bellmont still recovered from not scoring a single point in the final four minutes of the frame, down 19-7.
The second quarter picked up where the first left off with Lincner lacing another three, this one from five feet behind the line. Several Bellmont turnovers and fast-break baskets later, Bellmont stared down a 40-15 deficit with three minutes left in the first half.
That was when North Side dug deeper into their bench putting in three JV players and a few varsity reserves but before she sat down, Lincner had scorched the Squaws for 18 points in just nine minutes of play.
"Unfortunately the reason the starters didn't get that much playing time for North Side was because we weren't very good," Bellmont coach Andy Heim stated bluntly after the game. "A combination of their senior night and our play was the reason Lincner did not play that much in the first half."
And it was apparent that she was not needed.
The JV finished out the second quarter and North Side led comfortably after the first half, 42-19. The Squaws had committed 18 turnovers in just 16 minutes of play and there was very little positive to take into the locker room shooting under 25% from the field as well as under 33% from the foul line.
"It was more our nonchalant level of play and not so much North Side's ability to play defense," admitted coach Heim in frustration.
The Squaws, who fall to 4-11 on the season, may have been looking past the Redskins on their schedule as Homestead, Carroll, and Norwell are looming ahead in their conference tilt. North Side, now 3-11, clearly felt that Bellmont was a game they could win.
Bellmont's defense stepped up in the third quarter congruently with the way their turnovers declined and after the frame was ended they had outscored North Side 13-11 but still trailed by 21 points.
Lincner entered the game early in the fourth quarter and drained another three-pointer, her fourth, before making her exit a few plays later, done for the night with North Side up by a 29-point mark at one point.