By RON DEUTER
KINGSFORD - Carlee Benzie put in a game-high 17 points and Kingsford survived some inconsistencies at the foul line late to hold off Norway 50-45 in non-conference girls basketball here Thursday night.
Theresa Peterson/The Daily News Photo
Kingsford’s Sam Fleming attempts to drive around the defense of Norway’s Rachel Conery during Thursday’s non-league girls basketball game.
"We got a little bit of distance there in the third, but we have to close it out at the end," Flivvers head coach Mike Cross said. "We missed some free throws down the stretch, and that kills you. We have got to put those in."
Benzie scored 13 in the second half, including nine in the fourth quarter, but she was not immune to struggles at the stripe. Kingsford led by 11 to start the final frame, but saw the Knights close to within three with a little more than two minutes to play.
"We do all the right things at crunch time but don't during the first three quarters," Knights coach Carli Kelly said. "If we would have played the whole game like we did last four or five minutes, we would have won."
Bailey Grayvold's 15 points led Norway. The Knights were down 43-31 with under four minutes left when Rachel Conery sunk a triple that spurred the Knights to a 9-0 run. Heather Evosevich, with 11 points in the game, nailed two free throws and put back a missed freebie during the push. Conery went left-handed on a drive to make it 43-40 Kingsford with 2:21 left.
"We didn't take care of the ball, but even with our turnovers, we still came back, and we still fought, which I like to see," Kelly said. "They never did once give up."
Kingsford, also getting 10 points from Amber Larson and nine from Andrea Roell, never did lose the lead after Sam Fleming hit a short jumper to make it 6-4 Flivvers in the first quarter.
A 5-0 start to the third by Norway, which included a trey by Grayvold made it a two-point affair, but Fleming answered Grayvold with a 3-point swish of her own. That sparked Kingsford to a 12-1 run and the game's biggest lead at 38-25 after sophomore Annika Erickson canned another Kingsford 3-ball.
"The big thing about Norway is their size," Cross said. "They are a lot bigger than us. And you have to contend with Grayvold the whole time. She's a tough player who puts a lot of pressure on you.
"I felt coming it was going to be a scrappy game, a battle. And we play everything is close. We're not a team that is going to walk away with it."
Norway, in addition to nearly 20 turnovers, didn't get a look from the line until less than three minutes to play in the third. The Knights finished a respectable 8-of-11 at the stripe, but Kingsford cashed in for 14-of-26.
Norway (10-9) heads into district play Monday, facing Iron Mountain at Iron Mountain at 5:30 p.m.
"It's all going to depend which one of my teams show up," Kelly said. "There's not any magic that's going to be done at practice in the next few days. It all matters which team shows up. That's been our story all year."
Kingsford (15-4) wraps up regular season play tonight against North Dickinson in a make-up game from Jan. 29.
Kingsford was a 56-44 winner in the jayvee game and also prevailed in the freshmen contest.
Norway11 8 8 18 - 45
Kingsford14 12 12 12 - 50
NORWAY: Grayvold 15, Evosevich 11, Conery 8, Mattson 6, Matonich 5. FT: 8-11. F: 21. FO: Matonich.
KINGSFORD: Benzie 17, Larson 10, Roell 9, Fleming 7, Erickson 6, Tresedder 1. FT: 14-26. F: 12.
FG shooting - N: 16-52 (3-pt: 5-16); K: 16-42 (3-pt: 4-10). 3-pt FGs - N: Grayvold (2), Conery (2), Matonich; K: Erickson (2), Benzie, Fleming. Rebounding - N: 37 (Mattson 13); K: 37 (Larson 8).