Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
SEAMAN — Feed the fire. That’s been North Adams’ motto for quite some time now.
Thursday night, when Marah Call caught fire, her teammates certainly fanned the flames.
Call, a junior, hit her first five 3-point field goal attempts and willed the Green Devils (17-4, 12-1 SHAC) to a 17-2 lead early in the first quarter … over state-ranked, undefeated Eastern Brown.
North Adams used that momentum to sustain a lead throughout four quarters, hold off a late Warrior rally, and hand its conference rival their first loss this season — clinching a share of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference title in the process.
“It’s kind of a goal every season for us,” junior Delaney Harper said. “Eastern is a big opponent for us and [North Adams coach] Rob [Davis] always gives us the goal of getting that SHAC title. So it’s really important to us.”
Back on Jan. 6, Eastern Brown earned a hard-fought 55-51 win over the Green Devils. It was that loss that gave the Green Devils motivation to flip the script.
“After we lost to them the first game, [beating them] was our goal from then on,” Harper said. “We just worked really hard to get that SHAC title. We wanted to beat them the second time. We had a lot of fire.”
In the first meeting, Harper was the Green Devils’ go-to scorer as she posted 30 points and 11 rebounds. However, Call took over that role on Thursday.
PHOTOS: Images from North Adams’ 39-31 win over Eastern Brown
The junior led the team with 22 points and finished 5-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc. Without that performance, a different story would definitely have unfolded.
“I just wanted [to win] so badly. There was nothing I wanted more,” Call said. “My teammates gave me the ball and I just had to shoot it because I wanted us to score and win that game.”
Eastern Brown (20-1, 12-1 SHAC) has hung its hat on defense all season long and nothing changed on Thursday as the Warriors held the usually high-powered Green Devils to just 39 points.
However, it was North Adams’ defensive pressure that caused the Warriors to commit 23 turnovers, which was ultimately the difference in the contest.
“What makes [Eastern Brown] so good is their defense. They’re really fast and they have a lot of guards,” Harper said. “But tonight, I think we shut down some of their shooters and our defense was pretty good, too. We shut them down pretty well.”
With 5:56 and 5:20 left in the first quarter, Call hit her first two triples to give the Green Devils an early 6-0 lead. After Emma Brown got Eastern Brown on the board, Call dialed long distance again to make it a 9-2 ballgame with 4:34 to go.
That was the start of an 11-0 run, one that ended with 3’s from Call and Karissa Buttelworth, and one that gave North Adams a 17-2 advantage.
But the Warriors didn’t hang their heads by any means.
After entering the second quarter down 19-6, Eastern Brown started the second on a 5-0 run, cutting the lead to 19-11 after a triple from Juanita Frost. But Call had yet another deep ball up her sleeve, hitting a shot with just 1:09 left and producing a halftime score of 23-13.
“Eastern is extremely disciplined. That’s something you can tell,” junior Wylie Shipley said. “They put in the work, they come in early and they put in the hours. But we also have an energy and a bond as a team. We realize it’s not all about basketball and that we’re a family. So winning this game means that much more to us.”
Shipley and her teammates were challenged at every turn during the second half.
Led by freshman Rylee Leonard, Eastern Brown trimmed the lead to 30-24 by the end of third quarter and brought itself to within two at 31-29 late in the fourth.
However, down the stretch, the Green Devils were able to rely on Harper from the free throw line to seal the deal on an eight-point, season-headlining win.
“It was crazy because we lost to them the first time and they’re the number two ranked team in the state,” junior Braylie Jones said.
Call led all scorers with 22 points while Harper added five points and five rebounds for North Adams. Brown led the Warriors with 10 points and six rebounds, Mackenzie Gloff posted eight points and six boards, and Leonard finished the night with seven points.
Both teams will wrap up their regular seasons before looking towards tournament play next week. The Warriors are the top Division III seed in the Southeast District while the Green Devils drew a No. 7 seed.
Eastern Brown will await the winner of Lynchburg-Clay and Federal Hocking while North Adams takes on Valley in a Division III sectional semifinal at 6:45 p.m., Feb. 10 at Jackson.
“In practice, we need to focus and we need to go harder. We need to focus on our team specifically and then what we need to do to [beat Valley],” Shipley said. “Each game needs to be … we can’t look ahead. We need to talk about how we’re going to target that team and each player and how we’re going to clamp down on them. Then, it’s working towards the next game.”
Eastern Brown: 6-7-11-7 — 31
North Adams: 19-4-7-9 — 39
Eastern Brown: 13-32 FG, 3-5 FT, 2-5 3 pt., 20 rebounds (Brown 6, Gloff 6), 23 turnovers, 3 assists (Pickerill 3). Scoring: Brown 10, Gloff 8, Leonard 7, Frost 3, Wills 2.
North Adams: 11-37 FG, 10-16 FT, 7-21 3 pt., 17 rebounds (Harper 5), 13 turnovers, 9 assists (Sonner 3, Jones 3). Scoring: Call 22, Harper 5, Shipley 3, Jones 3, Buttelworth 3, Kendall 2, Sonner 1.