Mount Gilead surges past Northmor in second half
By ROB HAMILTON
After watching his team overcome early foul trouble to top Northmor 54–38 on the road Friday night, Mount Gilead coach Tom Cooper feels his team is taking steps towards meeting their potential.
“They played like warriors in the second half — I couldn’t be more proud of them,” he said. “Basically, this team is just now finding its identity. Every team is different and these guys are starting to capitalize on their strengths.”
To do that against the Knights, Mount Gilead had to endure early-game foul trouble, as senior Ethan Harris picked up three first-half fouls and spent large amounts of time on the bench in the first two quarters.
Northmor also got out to a fast start in the game, getting a three-pointer from Daniel Donner, a shot and free throw from Garrett Karcher and a pair of foul shots from Robert Lee to take an 8–2 lead midway through the first quarter.
However, Chris Godfrey came off the bench to score five points before the first quarter came to a close, which helped bring the Indians within a 10–8 margin.
Cooper noted that Godfrey’s contributions helped his team stay in the game in the early going.
“Chris Godfrey in the second quarter was huge,” said the coach. “Not only did he make shots, but he had five rebounds in the second quarter.”
Neither team could get an advantage in that second period. While Donner scored six points during that time for the Knights, the Indians had more balanced scoring with both Michael Bland and Mike Chatfield scoring three and both Godfrey and Payton Vanderkooi picking up two.
Vanderkooi’s points came on two free throws that ended the first half’s scoring with both teams having 18 points.
Unfortunately for the Knights, the Indians would pick things up on offense in the third quarter. Six points from Xavier Harris fueled an 11–2 run to open the period.
After a Lee three-pointer brought Northmor within a 29–23 margin, Mount Gilead got another basket by Xavier Harris, followed by four Vanderkooi points to take a 12-point lead.
The Knights would finish the quarter with a basket by Zach Wiseman, but still trailed by 10 with eight minutes to play.
The Indians wouldn’t waste much time in the fourth quarter putting the game away. After a Donner free throw to open the period, Mount Gilead went on a 14–1 run that effectively clinched the win for them.
Xavier Harris tallied eight of his team’s points during that span, as he finished the game with 17 points, 16 of which were scored in the second half.
“It’s always tough going on the road and winning,” said Cooper. “The biggest key was Xavier Harris. He dominated inside — we had him at 18 rebounds — and when you have someone cleaning the boards like that, it makes winning on the road easier.”
What made Cooper happiest about the win was his team’s defense. Not only did they hold the Knights to under 40 points, but also held top returning scorer Wiseman to 10, most of which came in the final moments of the contest.
“Northmor can be really hard to guard because they drive and kick and shoot the three,” said the coach. “So we have to play team defense and these guys do a nice job. Payton Vanderkooi takes a lot of pride in his “D” and I haven’t seen a better on-ball defender in the area.”
Besides Xavier Harris’ 17 points, Mount Gilead got 12 from Godfrey and nine by Ethan Harris. Northmor was led by Wiseman and Donner, both of whom scored 10.