Cardington jumped out to a fast start at Northmor Tuesday night and were able to keep their lead throughout the game in finishing on top by a 58-49 score.
The Pirates jumped in front by a 19-6 margin after the opening period of play. Avery Harper got the team off to a fast start with seven quick points, while Nate Hickman added four. While the Golden Knights got four early points by Graesin Cass and two from Kooper Keen, they trailed 13-6 with three to go in the period.
And they wouldn’t score over the final minutes of that opening quarter. A pair of free throws from Mason White and back-to-back baskets by Trey Brininger set the Pirates up with a 13-point lead going into the second quarter.
“We rely on Trey and Avery to do so many things on both the offensive and defensive end,” said Cardington coach Mark DeLaney of the fast start those two seniors had. “It was also nice to see Nate step up and Mason as well, and Zach (Lester) until he got his nose broken (in the third quarter).”
Northmor coach Blade Tackett felt his team had things the way they wanted, but struggled with execution at times.
“Offensively in the first half, we did what we wanted to do,” he said. “We slowed it down and spread the floor and got lay-up after lay-up after lay-up. They were wide open. If we get those buckets and set up our defense. Our defense currently isn’t good in transition, but it’s pretty good if we set up in our half-court.”
The Golden Knights were able to rally a bit in the second quarter. While the Pirates got four points each from Brininger and Harper in the first four minutes of the period, Preston Harbolt tallied four to keep the margin at 13.
Trailing 27-14, the team finished the half on a 7-4 run to get within 10 at 31-21. However, they were unable to maintain that good play in the third quarter. Turnovers plagued Northmor in that period and helped the Pirates open up a commanding lead.
“It was a 10-point game and if we’d made our lay-ups, we’re in it,” said Tackett. “But we come out in the third and turn it over. That’s hard to come back from.”
Cardington opened the third with a basket by Brininger and one free throw from White. Griffin Workman responded with a Northmor three, but the Pirates then went on a 11-2 run sparked by three Hickman baskets. While the Golden Knights finished the period with a three-pointer by Logan Mariotti, they still were in a 45-29 hole going into the fourth.
Trailing 50-34 with six minutes to go in the game, Northmor was able to put a good run together, getting a pair of three-pointers from Mariotti and four points from Gavin Miller to get as close as eight points to their guests with 1:35 left in regulation.
However, they would not be able to get over the hump. The Pirates got one free throw each from White and Brininger and a bucket by Hickman to push their lead back up to 12. While Cass connected from three in the final seconds, Cardington was able to hold on for the nine-point win.
“Luckily, we had a big enough cushion and controlled the tempo at the end,” said DeLaney in discussing his team’s work to overcome Northmor’s defensive intensity down the stretch.”
Tackett feels his team has a lot of potential, but just needs to put it together for entire games.
“Our guys are resilient,” he said. “We’re 1-5, but it doesn’t feel like 1-5. If we can put four quarters together, we can beat some of these good teams. Until we figure that out, we’re going to take some more lumps to be honest. We’re going to get there. I just don’t think the guys realize how good we can be.”
DeLaney felt his team did good to fight for four quarters and earn a road win.
“It’s always tough to win on the road,” he said. “Northmor never stopped fighting. I’m real proud of our guys. They continued to fight and pulled it out at the end.”
Brininger finished with a game-high 19 points, while Hickman scored 17 and Harper tallied 15. Northmor got 16 points from Cass and Mariotti tallied nine on three three-pointers.