Northmor couldn’t overcome a slow start in their sectional boys’ basketball contest at North Union on Saturday.
In facing the fourth-seeded Wildcats, the Golden Knights (12-11) could only tally two points in the opening period of a game that North Union won by a 67-40 count.
The tournament game took place just nine days after the Wildcats topped Northmor 53-36 in a contest that let Golden Knight Blade Tackett know that it wouldn’t be easy to manufacture offense on the North Union court.
“We shot 28 percent in the first game,” he said. “I guess that was the story of the night. We played hard on defense and didn’t turn the ball over. We had seven total for the day. The game’s difficult when the ball doesn’t go through and easier when it does.”
After an Aaron Krebehenne three-pointer gave the Wildcats an early lead, Northmor would get within one on a bucket by Caleb Schnuerer. However, the Golden Knights wouldn’t score again in the first quarter and North Union made them pay.
Krebehenne hit two more threes and a bucket in transition off one of the few Northmor turnovers and 6’7” forward Zach Vernon, who topped the 1000-point mark later in the game, added four points.
By the time the first quarter had ended, Northmor found themselves in a 15-2 hole. Things wouldn’t get any better in the early going of the second quarter. After a free throw by Grant Bentley, the Golden Knights gave up seven straight points to trail 22-3 at the 5:36 mark.
Two straight baskets by Jax Wenger started a 12-4 Northmor run. Bentley contributed a three-pointer and two free throws and Schnuerer also hit from long-range to bring their team within a 26-15 margin with less than a minute to go.
The Golden Knights wouldn’t be able to take the momentum into the locker room, though. A three-pointer by Krebehenne and two from Owen Davis gave North Union five quick points and a 31-15 advantage at the game’s midway point.
Northmor had one more run in them in the third quarter, as Bentley, Wenger and Schnuerer all hit threes and Graesin Cass added a two-point shot to bring the team within a 38-26 score. Much like in the second quarter, though, the Wildcats finished the period with a flurry to lead by 20 going into the final quarter and they wouldn’t look back the rest of the way in advancing to the district semifinals.
After the loss, Tackett had nothing but good words for his seniors, whom he felt played a huge role in this year’s success.
“I’m really proud of our guys and our seniors,” he said. “I believe we’ve hit a turning point in the program. I’m proud of the seniors for doing that. They weren’t the most talented group, but they work hard and I think that got us to 12 wins.”
And the coach has high hopes for the future, as his squad will return a lot, including Bentley (nine points) and Schnuerer (eight), who led the team in scoring Saturday.
“We have really great kids leaving who we’re going to miss, but we have really great kids coming back,” said Tackett. “The losses are tough and the wins more fun, but the relationships are the most important part. That makes it pretty special.”