GRAND RAPIDS — For the second time in as many seasons the Greenville Yellow Jackets girls basketball team ended the season of the Rockford Rams.
The Yellow Jackets led for nearly the entire game, but needed overtime to knock off the Rams 45-40 advance in the Class A No. 7 district basketball tournament at Northview High School on Wednesday.
The Rams took a 37-36 lead with just 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter on a three-pointer by Kimberly Weston from the corner off an inbound pass.
“She (Weston) is a very good player. That’s who we talked about coming out of the huddle,” Nichols said. “She hit a great shot. We settled and ran our stuff at the end and hit some free throws.”
After a Greenville timeout, the Yellow Jackets worked the ball down low and sophomore Leah Somerfield was fouled with 11.9 seconds left.
Somerfield hit the front end of her one-and-one free throw attempt to tie the game. Her second attempt for a potential win rimmed out.
Greenville’s defense forced the Rams into a desperation three-point attempt that missed and forced overtime.
“It’s too bad we didn’t close it and the end of regulation,” Nichols said. “But in overtime it’s a credit to our girls. We talk about battling and they did.”
In overtime, with Katie Dunham and Somerfield fouled out, Greenville senior Mackenzy Nichols scored six of her 13 points to lead the Yellow Jackets to the win.
Leading 39-38, Nichols stoled the ball and raced down the court for a layup. A short time later, Nichols split a pair of free throws and then Taylor Baker scored after another Greenville steal for a 44-38 advantage with less than a minute left to play.
Greenville’s defense held the Rams to just two field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime combined. The Rams made just three free throws in overtime.
The Yellow Jackets jumped out to an 11-5 lead after the first quarter and led 24-16 at halftime.
“We got off to a quick start, which was key tonight,” Nichols said. “Offensively, we did what we wanted to do and took advantage of some miss matches inside, which was good.
“We kept them off the glass early on and it was one and done for them. When we own the glass we are pretty good,” he added.
The Rams came out of the lockerroom at halftime and went on a 8-2 run to tie the game at 26. Greenville’s Megan O’Brien responded with three straight scores to give the Yellow Jackets the lead again until late in the fourth quarter.
“They came out and threw a right hand hook and were aggressive,” Nichols said. “They got after us and we kind of held our breath for a little bit. Then we settled and did what we wanted to do.”
Leah Somerfield also scored 13 points for Greenville.
Sara Karamol led the Rams with eight points. Rockford had eight players score on the night.
The Yellow Jackets improved to 12-9 overall. They will face the Northview Wildcats on Wednesday at Northview in the district semifinals at 7:30 p.m.
Lowell defeated Grand Rapids Creston in the other first round game 45-36 and will face Forest Hills Northern at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in the first semifinal.
The winners Wednesday will advance to the district final at 7 p.m. on Friday.
GREENVILLE 45, ROCKFORD 40 OT
Rockford 5 11 15 6 3 — 40
Greenville 11 13 10 3 8 — 45
ROCKFORD (12-9) — Weston 1 1-2 4, Straw 2 0-2 4, Gipson 2 2-2 7, Bilardello 0 2-2 2, Ryfiak 1 0-0 3, Henry 1 4-6 6, Karamol 3 2-3 8, Tykosky 2 0-0 4, Zeboor 1 0-0 2. Totals: 13 11-17 40. Three-point goals: Weston, Gipson, Ryfiak. Total fouls: 17. Fouled out: Ryfiak.
GREENVILLE (12-9) — Baker 4 0-2 8, Nichols 4 4-6 13, Ralph 0 1-2 1, O’Brien 4 0-0 8, Dunham 1 0-0 2, Somerfield 4 5-6 13. Totals: 17 10-18 45. Three-point goals: Nichols. Total fouls: 17. Fouled out: Dunham, Somerfield.