UNION TWP. | Wheeler coach Dustin Nelson will remember his 100th win as a girls basketball coach for a long time.
Nelson’s Bearcats held Hanover Central to 3-of-22 shooting from the field in the second half and never trailed in the last two quarters as they beat the Wildcats 55-47 in Greater South Shore Conference play on Saturday afternoon.
Nelson’s milestone victory came with his older brother Doug and father Merel coaching on the Hanover sideline.
“I didn’t realize this was my 100th girls basketball win, so it was a shock to me,” Nelson said. “Doug and I are each other’s biggest fans, so to beat him isn’t a rivalry thing, but it’s ‘Man, I hate to beat that guy.’
“As far as having the family here (to be a part of it), it’s pretty cool because we are a pretty close-knit family. We try to celebrate each other’s success.”
Shannon Eden and Allie Stevenson carried the offensive load for the Bearcats (5-8, 5-2) in the second half. The juniors combined to score 20 of Wheeler’s 23 points over the final 16 minutes.
“Those are our leaders, and that’s what we expect leaders to do,” Dustin Nelson said. “They kept us believing.”
Eden, who finished with a game-high 18 points, scored three baskets in a 1:32 span of the third quarter. It was part of a 7-0 run to break a 32-32 tie and give Wheeler a 39-32 lead.
“Those shots stemmed us,” Nelson said. “Shannon has been a big scorer for us all year.”
Eden made jumpers on back-to-back possessions and drained a fadeaway jumper to end the run. She finished 4-of-5 from the field in the second half.
Stevenson scored seven of her 15 points in the fourth quarter. She made a runner in the lane to put the Bearcats ahead 42-40 at the 5:25 mark of the quarter, and she was 5-of-6 at the free throw line in the final 1:04 to put the game away. She also had a game-high six assists.
The Bearcats grabbed 20 of their 33 rebounds in the second half.
“In the fourth quarter, if (Hanover) shot a shot, it was either our rebound or a jump ball,” Wheeler’s Nelson said. “We were scrapping on a regular basis.”
Alex Glidewell scored 13 points off the bench to lead the Wildcats (6-6, 3-1), who suffered the program's first loss in GSSC play.
“She played well,” Hanover’s Nelson said of Glidewell. “She made baskets. She finished. She’s capable of doing that, and it’s one more kid who can score.”
Brooke Sterkowitz added nine points for the Wildcats, while Frankie Turturillo added eight.
The two teams combined for 47 fouls and 61 free throws, and three players fouled out. Wheeler was in the double-bonus with 29.4 seconds left in the first quarter.