Nixon, Petersen's career nights keep Woodward's season alive

Sean Cordy
Ava Petersen looks to put up a shot for the Hawks during  the regional opener on Saturday, Feb. 13 in Woodward.

Woodward-Granger was once again blessed with a familiar face to start the postseason as the Hawks (5-15) took down the Ogden girls (1-20) 58-40 in Saturday's regional opener at home.

Once, Twice, Three times a Winner

Plenty of teams have had Ogden's number this season as the Bulldogs eked out their only win of the season a grudge game against Madrid in their regular-season finale. As the Tigers can now attest, just because a team won or lost previously doesn't guarantee a thing moving forward. And beating a team three times in one season is all the more challenging.

With Saturday's win, the Hawks found a way to improve upon their previous two performances against the Bulldogs and are on a five-game win streak against Ogden.

Up, Up, Down, Up

While W-G walked out with the win, Ogden was able to sneak through the backdoor to give fans glimmers of hope in the second half. Down 25-12 after two quarters, the Bulldogs stormed out in the third quarter, forcing turnovers and living a the charity stripe. Come the fourth quarter, Ogden was down by just seven points.

"We're really not the kind of team to run away with anything. We always want to want to give the other team a little bit of an opportunity," head coach Gary Dresback joked.

Ogden's aggressive approach eventually bit back as the Hawks ultimately pulled away with a 18-10 run in the fourth quarter. To Dresback's delight, that meant the Hawks were knocking down free throws, unlike the previous eight minutes.

Darby Nixon in action during Woodward-Granger's regional opener at home on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021.

One of the biggest beneficiaries was Ava Petersen who put in a career-high 14 points, half of which came from the foul line. Darby Nixon also had a career-high 19 points after nailing six free throws. Grace Deputy put up 15 points, marking the first time the Hawks have had a trio cross double digits.

Simply put, "That's huge," Dresback said.

The old high school try

Hoping to move forward in the playoffs, Woodward knows it needs to clean up its act Tuesday for the two-hour drive to the regional quarterfinals against Grundy Center (16-3). The Spartans' losses this season have come against teams with a combined win rate of 76 percent. In seven games against team with fewer than six wins, they've won by an average of 27 points. Hampton-Dumont-CAL was the closest of that group with a 54-44 loss in December.

On the opposite side of the deal, Woodward will look at games which have been intermittently competitive such as the 15-point Van Meter or the last game against ACGC, games which were within just a couple possessions before halftime.

"We did a nice job of playing more at our pace and less at their pace, and that's going to be key. So we're gonna point to those two games and say we've got to make sure we have that kind of mentality," Dresback said. "What the heck, let's go test ourselves against a really good team."

Woodward-Granger's Faith Kuehl passes the ball to a teammate during the regional opener on Saturday, Feb. 13 in Woodward.