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Who’s next: Norway downs Eagles, moves to District Championship



Knights’ sophomore Lauren Adams (3) finishes a layup after stealing the ball on Wednesday at Norway High School during MHSAA Division 4 District 100 semifinal action. (Sean Chase/Daily News photo)

NORWAY — The energy in the Norway High School gym was on another level during Wednesday’s MHSAA Division 4 District 100 semifinal as the Norway girls varsity basketball team went to battle with Stephenson.

Both student sections tried to cheer their team to victory. But in the end, the Knights were too much for the Eagles (14-9) and Norway (15-9) rolled to a 57-35 win over its Skyline Central Conference foe.

“We knew coming in that we had to rebound better than we did when we went to Stephenson, a week ago, and they out rebounded us by 29,” Knights head coach Brian Adams said. “I thought we rebounded better tonight. I thought our press still gave them problems, like it had. I thought one of their biggest weaknesses was ball handling and we were able to take advantage of that.

“I thought everybody that played, played super hard tonight; gave us everything. Anna Falk had one of her best games of the year, which helped us a lot. … I’m just really happy with the way they played. They played their butts off.”

For sophomore Lauren Adams, who tallied 36 points (a career-high) for Norway, the energy was a welcome addition to the action.

Norway junior Anna Falk (11) and Stephenson’s Melissa Johnson (23) battle for a rebound while the Eagles’ Maddie Vista (14) watches on Wednesday. (Sean Chase/Daily News photo)

“It was awesome,” Lauren Adams said. “It’s been a while since it’s been like that. Since last year, we haven’t had a gym packed until tonight and it felt great to be in that environment again.”

Coach Adams agreed.

“It was electric,” Coach Adams said. “I thought both student sections were outstanding. It made it difficult for me to communicate with our players, but this is what you want to play in. We had a team, last year, that made it to the Regional Finals and this is what our tournament run was like. It was this loud, so it brought that feeling back. It’s good this group got a taste of it, because Friday night’s going to be the same thing.

“Women’s basketball, a lot of people knock it. But there are a lot of good players out here doing good things and they play hard, they give you everything they can and they are tough. These girls are tough.”

Norway has made its mark this season with its press defense and it was no different on Wednesday.

“We press 90-percent of the games we play, but with them it’s an emphasis because we know they struggle,” Coach Adams said. “They turned it over 24 times the last time we played them. So if we’re not going to rebound even with them, then we have to get a bunch of turnovers.

“We were able to do that. We rebounded, that was the big key.”

Stephenson opened the first quarter on a 6-0 run with junior Maddie Vista tallying four points. However, it wouldn’t last long as Anna Falk added two points and Lauren Adams tallied two 3-pointers.

Falk kept her momentum going as the first frame progressed, notching four more points in the quarter, and Norway took a 12-8 lead into the second.

The Eagles were trying to keep the ball out of Lauren Adams hands for most of the first, but they lost track of her in the second frame.

“It took me a little bit because they were double teaming me,” Lauren Adams said. “But after they pulled off of me a little bit, I hit the (3-pointer from deep behind the center for the arc), I knew I had it after that.”

She poured in 14 points in the quarter while Stephenson tallied three second-quarter points.

As a result, the Knights took a 26-11 lead into the halftime break.

Lauren Adams notched 13 more points, Abby Richter added two and Paytan Carlson buried a 3-pointer in the third quarter and the Knights took a 44-18 lead into the final frame.

Even though things ended positively for Norway, Coach Adams wanted to see his kids attacking the basket.

“They had four fouls, we were going to be at the free throw line, and I think we jacked 10 threes in a row,” Coach Adams said. “We didn’t make any, so I just wanted them to attack the hoop. Get to the free throw line, get a make there and that will open up the outside shot. … I feel like we are a good free throw shooting team, so if we can get there we’re in good shape.”

It was all Knights from there as they rolled to the 57-35 victory.

Lauren Adams’ 36 points led all players in the contest.

“She’s our engine, we all know that,” Coach Adams said. “She actually torched them for 36, 35, 33 in three games. So she’s got a thing for Stephenson, which is good. She’s a tremendous player. … She’s the heart and soul of our team. She’s got to bring the ball up the floor. She’s got to guard one of the best players. She’s got to be at the front of our press. She’s got to score and she did it all tonight. I’m super proud of her. I’m super proud of all of them, they all played a role.

“Mary Cavagnetto, dealing with a bad ankle, gave us what she could, I appreciate that. Everyone who played did something. The bench gave us good energy. I’m just happy.”

Norway also received contributions from Richter (3 points), Falk (7 points), Paytan Carlson (3 points), Kara Stanchina (3 points), Ella Wojtowicz (1 point) and Cavagnetto (4 points).

This was Cavagnetto’s first game back on the court for the Knights since suffering a broken fibula.

“We tried her out in practice (Tuesday), it was decent, not too bad,” Coach Adams said. “She wanted to give it a go, I wanted to limit her. I played her more than I wanted to. She’s limping, you can see it at times. We’ll see how it goes (Thursday), I hope she’s a go for Friday. But, we’ll see how it responds.”

Today, the Knights face Carney-Nadeau at 6 p.m. in the Norway High School gym for the District 100 championship.

“They are really well coached,” Coach Adams said. “They play hard. They’re aggressive, they’re physical. You’re in for 32 minutes of aggression from them. We have to match that. … We played them in early January. They beat us by 14, so there are some things we’re going to tinker with and change to get ready for them. But, if we play like we have down this stretch, winning 13 out of 16, we’re a different team too. So I think it should be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”

For Lauren Adams, bringing that trophy back to Norway is her only focus.

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but I’m ready for it,” Lauren Adams said. “I am excited and I just want to go get that trophy.”

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