The seventh-seeded Lady Railroaders claimed an unexpected spot in the title game with a 44-33 victory over the sixth-seeded Lady Falcons.
“We’ve been playing well lately,” Whitehall coach Boyd Hunt said.
Zoe Eggleston scored 23 points to lead Whitehall, while Kyrie Smith added seven points.
Brytney Moore scored 15 points to lead Northville, while Morgan Mackey finished with seven points. Kerrigan Groff added six points for the Lady Falcons.
Coming into the game, both teams were playing some of their best basketball of the season. The Lady Railroaders were 6-1 over their last seven games and Northville had won five of its last six games.
Whitehall upset second-seeded Argyle in its quarterfinal contest, 52-38, while Northville notched a 56-45 win over third-seeded Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, the defending Section II Class D champions. In the first round, Whitehall topped 10th-seeded Loudonville Christian by a 40-20 margin and Northville edged 11th-seeded North Warren, 41-37.
The Lady Railroaders got out of the gates quickly Monday, starting the game with a 7-1 flurry. Whitehall pushed its lead to 13-4 before the Lady Falcons scored the final three points of the quarter to make it 13-7 after eight minutes of play.
Moore scored all seven points for Northville in the first quarter, while Eggleston scored nine points in the first quarter for Whitehall.
In the second quarter, the Lady Falcons held Whitehall to just one field goal and a pair of free throws. Northville outscored Whitehall 8-4 in the frame to trail 17-15 at the half.
Groff scored four points in the quarter for the Lady Falcons.
“I always tell the girls that basketball is a game of runs,” Northville coach Gene Frasier said. “We got down in the first quarter, but we battled back in the second quarter.”
After the break, the Lady Falcons opened the third quarter with a 7-3 burst to take the lead for the first time at 22-20 with 5:10 remaining in the quarter.
“[Northville] took the lead, but we battled back,” Hunt said.
Whitehall responded with a 7-0 surge to take a 27-22 advantage only to have Northville pull within 29-27 with 2:16 left in the third.
The Lady Railroaders scored the final five points of the quarter to open up a 34-27 lead, getting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Smith to end the frame.
“That 3-pointer was huge,” Hunt said. “It gave us some breathing room.”
Whitehall opened the final quarter with a basket from Madison Gould and a 3-pointer from Eggleston to help open up a 39-29 lead.
Northville wasn’t able to get any closer than seven points the rest of the way as the Lady Railroaders punched their ticket to the Class D title game for the first time since 2010. Whitehall won its only Section II title in 2002.
“Northville did a good job. They settled in and hit big shots,” Hunt said. “Neither team has anything to be ashamed of. They both played hard.”
Whitehall (13-10 overall) will face top-seeded Fort Edward in the Class D championship game Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy at 4:15 p.m. The Flying Forts posted a 51-37 victory over fifth-seeded Hartford in their semifinal contest Monday.
“We had our opportunities, but it came down to execution,” Frasier said. “The girls played well and played hard. I’m proud of them.”
Northville finished its season with a 12-11 overall record.
“We had an extremely successful season,” Frasier said.
Whitehall 43, Northville 33
Whitehall 13 4 17 9 — 43
Northville 7 8 12 6 — 33
Eggleston 6-7-23, Whiting 1-0-2, Smith 3-0-7, Bird 2-0-4, Howland 2-0-4, Gould 1-0-2, Groesbeck 0-1-1. Totals 15-8-43
Moore 6-2-15, Forsey 2-0-4, Mackey 2-1-7, Groff 2-1-6, Frasier 0-1-1. Totals 12-5-33.
3-point goals: Whitehall 5 (Eggleston 4, Smith); Northville 4 (Mackey 2, Moore, Groff).