By JIM RUMBLE
The Northgate Flames girls’ basketball team entered last Thursday's game against Brentwood sporting a 5-3 overall record and having aspirations of pulling an upset against their section leader. The Flames hung tough early on, but the Spartans took over in the second quarter and never looked back on their way to a 55-34 win.
Brentwood scored inside to open the scoring in the first quarter, but Northgate's CiCi Mason hit on a three-pointer, giving the Flames a 3-2 lead. The Spartans countered with another score from down low, but Niko Scott took advantage of a Brentwood turn-over with a drive to the hoop for a basket, putting Northgate back on top 5-4. A free throw for the Spartans had the teams in a tie before Tori Oberst scored on a pull-up jumper, giving the Flames a 7-5 lead.
Brentwood began to dominate inside as they scored 10 unanswered points to lead 15-7. Mason knocked down a three-ball off the left side to stop the run, but the Flames were behind 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Turn-overs early in the second quarter by the Flames fueled an 8-0 run by the Spartans to extend the lead before Scott went coast to coast for a basket that had Northgate trailing 23-12 with 3:31 left in the quarter. The teams committed six turn-overs each in the period, but Brentwood held a 13-3 point advantage that had Northgate behind 28-13 at the half.
The Flames continued to struggle in the third quarter committing seven turn-overs and connecting on only 2-12 from the floor. Deneshia Williams scored 4 points and Scott added a free throw, but the Spartans outscored the Flames 13-5 to lead 41-18 going into the fourth quarter.
Brentwood pulled their starters from the floor leading 50-22 with 4:19 remaining in the game.
Scott and Williams accounted for all of Northgate's points in the fourth quarter where the Flames held a 16-14 point advantage to put the final score at 55-34. Scott finished with 14 points followed by Williams with 11, Mason with 6 and Oberst with 3 points.
The loss to Brentwood followed a 80-46 section loss to Leechburg on January 2 that dropped the Flames to 1-3 in the section and 5-4 overall.