Knights ride fast start to win
A fast start by Northmor’s offense helped lead the Knights to a 71–59 win over Cardington in a road contest last Thursday.
Four three-pointers by James Donner sparked Northmor to a 20–9 lead after eight minutes of play and the Pirates would be unable to erase that deficit.
Two baskets by Tyler Howell staked Cardington to an early 4–3 advantage, but a Donner three followed by a driving basket from Zach Wiseman put the Knights up 8–4.
Mitchell Yake drew a foul and hit one-of-two shots to bring his team within three points, but Northmor responded with a nine-point run.
Both Garrett Karcher and Wiseman hit baskets and free throws to complete old-fashioned three-point plays before Donner stepped behind the arc and added three more to give his team a 17–5 advantage.
While both Peyton Barnett and Yake hit baskets down down the stretch in the first quarter for Cardington, Donner hit another three-pointer, so they were only able to trim one point off the Northmor lead.
“That’s been the big thing for us — getting down early,” said Cardington coach Rodney Brown.
Knight coach Zach Ruth noted that he and his staff have been noticing a lot of good scoring production from Donner recently — something he considers a big key to the team having success.
“That start contributed to the outcome of the win,” said Ruth. “We put a lot of pressure on James Donner because when he can stretch the defense like this, we’re tough to beat. He has 18 three-pointers in three games.”
Northmor continued to pull away early in the second quarter, getting baskets by Daniel Donner and Karcher, as well as two free throws from Wiseman, to boost their lead to a 26–9 margin.
While the Pirates would wake up offensively in the second quarter, they would only be able to close within 12 points at 38–26 by the half. A Barry Johnston three-pointer got Cardington started on a 17–12 run that ended the half. Eight different Pirates scored during that stretch.
Unfortunately for Cardington, they would not be able to continue chipping away at their deficit in the third quarter. With the score 45–32 midway through the period, Northmor got both a technical foul free throw and basket from James Donner and a three-pointer from Wiseman to go up by 19.
While Yake drained a pair of free throws in the waning seconds of the third, the Pirates still trailed by 17 entering the final period.
“We knew James and Zach could shoot the ball,” said Brown. “I thought we did pretty good on Zach, but James killed us.”
The Pirates would make a fourth quarter run to add some suspence to the game, though. Trailing 53–36 with six minutes to play, they got back-to-back threes from Johnston, as well as inside shots from Tyler Dornon and Howell, to get within seven points with 4:33 to play.
“We were up 17 and had a couple guys in foul trouble and went to the bench, who gave up eight points,” said Ruth. “To win more games, we need more production from our bench.”
Cardington was able to stay close until the final four minutes. Then, with the score 56–49 in favor of Northmor, the Knights got two free throws from James Donner and a three-pointer from Daniel Donner to go up by 12. Cardington would not get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Northmor hit 10-of-11 free throws over those final four minutes to clinch the game. Ruth noted that hitting shots from the charity stripe has been a strong point for his team this season.
James Donner led all scorers with 20 points, while Karcher added 16, Wiseman scored 14 and Daniel Donner finished with 12. For Cardingotn, both Howell and Yake tallied 11 points, while Johnston added nine and Mason Richardson finished with eight.
For Cardington, Brown feels that his team just needs to find a way to get out to faster starts.
“You can’t hang your heads,” he said. “We started slow, but scored 25 in the fourth. But when you start slow, you have to waste a lot of energy coming back. We’ve done that a lot and it’s hurt us.”
In the Northmor locker room, Ruth is hoping that his team can get some momentum now after getting off to a slow start against some tough competition.
“Any time you get a win on the road in the MOAC, it’s good,” he said. “At one time, we were 2–8 and the teams that had beaten us had a (combined) record of 38–5 or something like that.”