After his Northmor team struggled offensively in a pair of losses over the weekend, coach Zach Ruth was happy with how they responded on Tuesday when the team got its season-best point total in topping Mount Gilead 72-46.
“That’s the most we’ve put up,” he said. “Things have kind of clicked when we’ve played Mount Gilead. One team might match up with one team and not another and we’ve played good against Mount Gilead.”
The Golden Knights were led by their senior class, as Blake Miller scored 19 points, Hunter Mariotti tallied 18, Logan Randolph connected on four three-pointers in adding 14 and Alex Tuttle picked up nine.
Randolph scored six early points to stake his team to an 8-3 lead and Mariotti followed with four in a row. A Jackson Huffer three-pointer trimmed the Indian deficit to 12-6, but buckets by Mariotti and Miller gave Northmor a 10-point lead after eight minutes.
MG coach Dan Strasser simply felt his team didn’t do a good job taking care of the ball.
“We turned the ball over a lot,” he said. “That’s something we have to fix. We’ve been dealing with it all year, averaging 20 turnovers a game. When you’re giving away possessions, you’re not taking shots and you’re not scoring because you’re not getting shots.”
The Indians’ offensive struggles continued in the second quarter. While Huffer tallied 10 points in the period, the rest of the team only mustered two. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights put up 23, with six different players getting in the action. Miller finished with six, while Tuttle had five and Max Lower picked up four.
Ruth noted that he was pleased with Tuttle’s minutes, saying they were important due to the team recently losing point guard Graesin Cass for the rest of the year due to injury and also having Randolph being a bit limited due to a recent concussion.
“We know what he’s capable of bringing and he brought it tonight,” said Ruth of his senior guard.
Strasser stated that his team just needs to play better on offense, saying that they suffered from a lot of self-inflicted wounds on the night.
“We don’t match up great with them, but our biggest problem is offense,” he said. “It seems like Basketball 101. You take a bad shot at one end and give up a lay-up on the other.”
Northmor was able to maintain a comfortable lead in the second half. Miller put up seven points in the third quarter and Mariotti had six in the fourth to lead the team to a 33-point half. Meanwhile, MG struggled to get consistent scoring from anyone besides Huffer, who hit four three-pointers and tallied a game-high 24 points. Paul Butterman got hot in the fourth quarter, hitting a pair of threes and tallying eight of his 11 points down the stretch.
Strasser said that his team’s potential for success depends on if they can play more consistently from game to game.
“That’s how it’s been all year,” he said. “Two steps forward and one step back. We’ve been hovering around .500 all year and you are what your record says you are. We just have to be more consistent.”
Ruth noted that even if Mount Gilead has been a .500 team overall this year, in the KMAC they’ve been notably better. Entering the game, the Indians were 6-2 in league play, while Northmor was 5-2, putting the two teams in a battle for second place in the league behind Centerburg.
“We told the guys that tonight is for position for second place,” he said. “I think they had the most conference wins in a row. We walked away tonight with a double win. We’re 9-5 and I think the JVs are 10-4. If we keep things rolling one game at a time, we don’t know how the league will shake out and then the tournament is around the corner.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS