The Northmor boys’ basketball team jumped out to a big first-quarter lead against visiting Mount Gilead and never let up in avenging an early-season loss to the Indians by a 69-44 margin.
With the score tied 2-2, the Golden Knights went on a 14-point run on their way to leading 16-5 after eight minutes. Both Logan Mariotti and Caleb Schnuerer connected from long range, while Max Lower contributed four points.
Northmor coach Blade Tackett felt his defense set up his team’s strong performance in improving to 8-7, 5-5 in league play while MG fell to 6-8, 4-5.
“We had a really good game plan to make it tough on Elijah (Chafin) and Paul (Butterman). (Carter) Kennon can shoot and make plays, so we had to guard him straight up. We were able to take a team with the ability to score a lot of points and hold them to 45.”
While Mount Gilead played better on the offensive side of the ball in the second quarter, they struggled to defend Northmor beyond the arc. The Golden Knights got two three-pointers from Graesin Cass, while Grant Bentley, Schnuerer and Mariotti all hit once from three-point range.
“Credit some of those guys shooting, but we were losing them in transition,” said Indian coach Dan Strasser. “Everyone’s a shooter, but we can’t let them be makers. Our close-outs were not good enough and our rotations were slow and not good enough. It (the three-pointers) adds up quickly and are huge momentum swingers. It’s the perfect storm.”
Case in point: MG tallied 14 points in the quarter — seven by Butterman — and finished the half on an 8-5 run, only to see Northmor add three points to their lead and take a 33-19 lead into the locker room.
“The game’s a lot easier when you shoot it well,” said Tackett. “It could have been a different game if we hadn’t knocked down consecutive looks. We have shooter all over the gym and have been waiting for it all to come together and it did.”
While the Indians got four points from both Chafin and Butterman in the third to go along with a three-pointer by Kennon, they would not be able to prevent Northmor from continuing to extend their lead. Bentley got six points in the third, while Lower added five — including a buzzer-beating three-pointer to make it a 50-30 game.
Eight fourth-quarter points by Mariotti helped boost the Northmor lead to as many as 29 in the fourth quarter before baskets by Chafin and Kennon ended the game at 69-44.
While Strasser felt his team’s performance wasn’t great on either side of the ball, he noted that defensive issues were the bigger concern.
“We struggled offensively again, but I told the guys defense is what I’m worried about,” he said. “You can’t give up 70 and have a chance to win on a consistent basis.”
Chafin finished with 15 points, while Butterman and Kennon both had 13, with Kennon hitting three three-pointers.
Northmor had a balanced output, with four starters in double figures. Both Bentley and Mariotti scored 16, Lower tallied 15 and Cass added 10. Also, Schnuerer had eight off the bench. Tackett felt those starters worked together very well against the Indians.
“I thought Max did his best job finishing around the rim,” he said. “Logan hit threes and loves his floater. Graesin is balanced in and out. Grant’s been face-guarded for five or six straight games, which opens up opportunities for others. That was our best offensive performance in two years. We had single-digit turnovers, which has been our Achilles.”