After a closely-contested first half, Northmor was able to take over its home basketball game against Cardington to pull away for a 62-46 win.
The Golden Knights (6-5, 3-3 in KMAC play) only led 27-26 at the intermission, but continually built upon that advantage to top the 2-6, 1-5 Pirates.
“We’ve got to give Cardington a lot of credit,” said Northmor coach Blade Tackett. “They were open in the first half and made a lot of threes. We came out and ran a half-court defense and face guarded them everywhere and were not letting their shooters get open. A couple times, they got lay-ups and maybe one three that was wide open.”
The three-ball played a large part of Cardington’s offense in the early going. After six Grant Bentley points staked Northmor to a 6-2 lead, Gavin Crockett and Connor Mcie hit back-to-back long-range shots to put the Pirates up by two.
They would then get six points from A.J. Brehm to lead 14-13 after eight minutes of action. Another three from Mcie to open the second period made it a four-point lead, but Northmor responded with back-to-back shots from Logan Mariotti and a bucket from Bentley to regain the lead at 19-17.
Threes from Kalin Briggs and Mcie put the Pirates back on top by a 23-20 margin, but Northmor responded with seven straight points — three by Max Lower — to lead 27-23. One more three, this time by Journey Williamson, brought the Pirates within one point at the half.
The second half would be different for Cardington, as they would not be able to score consistently.
“In the second half, we were tentative looking for shots,” said head coach Ryan Treese. “Our ball movement in the first half was good, but in the second half, we just tried to beat them off the dribble.”
The coach added that rebounding woes also played a big role. Northmor dominated the glass in the game and, after being able to withstand that pressure in the first half, Cardington couldn’t in the second.
“We’re small,” he said. “I thought we handled their pressure from 15 feet and out, but not inside. Their second chances had to be absurd.”
Seven points by Graesin Cass in the third quarter helped Northmor add to their slim lead, while Lower added four points and was a big part of the team’s presence on the boards.
“Max is a tough kid,” said Tackett. “He doesn’t let things bother him. He’s so strong, I don’t think he gets all the calls other guys get, but it doesn’t faze him.”
Leading 47-38 going into the fourth, the Golden Knights ended any Cardington hopes for a comeback by scoring the first 13 points of the period. Mariotti tallied six of that number, while Bentley added four as Northmor wound up on top by 16 points.
Treese feels that his young team simply needs to learn how to win at the varsity level — something he’s seen happen while coaching volleyball for Cardington.
“We can’t just be a team that scares people,” he said. “We scared Mount Gilead and we had them scared in the first half. We have to be a team that finishes games. Coach Rice says we have to develop a winning mentality. In my second year coaching volleyball, we were the youngest team in the league, but knew we could win.”
Mcie led the Pirates with 15 points on five three-pointers. Brehm added 10 and Briggs scored eight. Northmor had balanced scoring on the night with Bentley leading the way with 17, Mariotti tallying 15, Lower scoring 12 and Cass finishing with 10.
“We have a lot of guys who can score,” said Tackett. “When we bring effort on defense, we’re tough to score on. Give credit to Cardington; we did not take them lightly. I think anyone in the league can beat anyone on any given night.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS