Northmor’s defense was dominant Monday night in a 54-28 win over Worthington Christian to open the Division III boys’ basketball tournament.
Blake Miller scored 20 points, while Eason Neal, Demetrius Johnson and Tyler Kegley all added eight in the win.
“The thing with Blake is, when he’s under the basket, he catches and goes and they doubled off him on Tyler,” said Knight coach Zach Ruth of the sophomore’s big game.
Early in the game, points were hard to come by for both teams. With senior point guard Johnson on the bench in the first quarter due to what Ruth called a minor disciplinary action, the Knights were able to turn a 3-2 deficit into an 8-3 lead in the final 1:09 of the period on three-pointers by Miller and Neal.
Another three-pointer by Neal and an inside basket by Miller helped the Knights bump their lead to a 13-4 margin, but the Warriors would battle back to get as close as three points before Northmor rallied to take a 21-16 lead into the half.
After WC opened the third quarter with a basket, the Knights would dominate the rest of the game. They held their opponents scoreless for nearly four minutes, getting baskets from Tyler Kegley, Miller and Kyle Kegley and a bucket and free throw from Brock Pletcher to widen their advantage to a 30-18 margin.
“We did a very good job in the second half of executing on both ends,” Ruth said. “I thought our press was very effective tonight. It worked how we wanted it to in the second half.”
Leading 32-22, Northmor would score the final five points of the quarter to take a 15-point advantage into the fourth. Over the final eight minutes, their defense continued to frustrate the Warrior offense. Leading 38-24, they effectively ended the game with a 16-0 run that lasted from the 6:33 mark until barely half a minute remained. While Miller scored six points during that stretch, Ruth gave a lot of credit to Johnson for the job he did running the offense.
“He came in with good spirits, was good on the bench (in the first quarter) and took over in the fourth quarter,” said the coach.
Northmor will next play at home against West Jefferson Saturday evening.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS