Girls basketball: Northeastern snaps 32-game losing streak

Northeastern High School senior guard Katie Baneck wondered if a victory would ever come for the Jets girls basketball program.

The Jets went 0-23 last season and opened this season with nine straight losses. After nearly a year-and-a-half without a victory, the Jets (1-10) finally broke into the win column last month.

“We’ve made a lot of big strides this year,” Baneck said. “I’m really happy about it. Even in a loss, we’re seeing a lot of improvement. I’ll look back on high school basketball and be a lot happier.”

Northeastern snapped a 32-game losing streak by beating Northridge 33-28 on Dec. 23.

“It’s very inspiring to see how we can get better,” Baneck said. “Coach (Tab) LaFollette has made a big difference for us. He’s tough, but it’s really helped us.”

On Feb. 10, 2018, the Jets beat Triad 67-61 in the final game of the regular season before falling to Miami East in a Division III sectional tournament game began the losing streak for Northeastern.

Last season, the Jets went 0-23 and were outscored by their opponents by an average of 38.9 points per game. They played just three games within five points or less.

Senior post player Amy Stewart had 20 points and 13 rebounds in the win over Northridge. She transferred from Southeastern before her junior season and hadn’t won a game in her Jets career.

“It’s been an effort from all of us,” Stewart said. “Honestly, it’s been rough, but all of us are together. We’re a team. … It felt so nice to finally get that under our belts because it was well-deserved. We strive to be better every day. We want to show people we can be competitive.”

The Jets nearly made it two in a row against Northwestern on Monday night. They led by seven midway through the fourth quarter, but the Warriors fought back to tie the score at 30. Northwestern’s Alainee Risner hit one of two free throws with 5 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a 31-30 lead. Baneck shot a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the ball rimmed out, giving Northwestern the come-from-behind victory.

“For us to be here in these situations, we haven’t had a chance to work on late game situations with time and score very often,” said LaFollette, in his first season with the Jets. “This will be good for us in the long run. (Northwestern) played well and made the shots they had to make. We had a few breakdowns at the end.”

The young Jets play several freshmen and are still learning the game, LaFollette said.

“We’re still learning basketball,” LaFollette said. “In the beginning when that happens, girls with not much winning experience, they try to pass from point A to point B and if the pass isn’t there, they try to create a basketball move. We’re getting closer to that all the time, just learning basketball. Some of that is about effort. … I’m happy for the girls and proud of the advancements they made.”

At the midway point, the Jets hope to be more competitive against the tough Ohio Heritage Conference North Division, which includes Mechanicsburg and West Liberty-Salem.

“We want to be more competitive with them the second time around,” LaFollette said. “I think with me seeing them and having film on them and knowing what we can do against them, it will hopefully help make us a little bit more competitive.”

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