Cardington was unable to solve Northmor’s defense on Saturday night and dropped a 57-33 decision at home as a result.
The Pirates were held to single-digit scoring in three of the four quarters as they fell to 1-2, 0-1 on the season. Northmor won their first league game and is 3-1 overall.
“We’ve put 12 straight quarters of good basketball together,” said Knight coach Zach Ruth, also citing his team’s wins against Bucyrus and Pleasant. “I’m so proud. It’s so hard to come into Cardington and win and I sensed their kids backed off in the fourth or towards the end of the third.”
The game was competitively played for much of the first half. The game was tied at four three minutes into the first, with Tyler Kegley scoring all of Northmor’s points and Derek Goodman tallying Cardington’s four.
Back-to-back shots by Zach Parrott and Kegley would give the Knights a four-point lead, though, and they would not trail again. While Devin Pearl brought Cardington within two with a basket, Northmor got a three-pointer by Kegley and a free throw by Brock Pletcher to lead 12-6 after eight minutes.
Cardington coach Rod Brown thought both teams deserved credit for his team’s struggles scoring.
“We had no movement tonight,” he said. “We were just standing around. I thought Northmor played good defense — we couldn’t get open.”
A free throw by Pearl got Cardington within five points, but Northmor got a three-pointer from Kyle Kegley and an inside shot from Tyler Kegley to jump in front 17-7. A 5-1 run by Cardington sparked by a Goodman three brought them back to a six-point deficit, but they would be unable to get any closer.
Northmor rebounded with another three-pointer by Kyle Kegley followed by a Tyler Kegley basket to get up to 11 at 23-12 and were able to hold a nine-point lead going into the half.
The Knights would then blow open the game in the third period, opening with 11 straight points, five by Demetrius Johnson.
“During a time out, we figured Coach Brown would be telling them not to give up, so we used the same psychology and told them not to quit and let’s put it away,” said Ruth.
Trailing 36-16, Cardington was able to make another run, getting a basket by Garrett Wagner and four points by Pearl to close within 14 points. However, Northmor finished the quarter strongly, getting seven points by Kyle Kegley to close the third on a 9-2 run — boosting their advantage to 45-24.
Northmor then got back-to-back threes by Pletcher to open the fourth. A steal and score by Johnson made it 53-24 with five minutes remaining. While Cardington outscored their guests 9-4 over that span, Northmor was able to walk out of the gym with the win.
Brown’s team gave up a lot of height to the Knights, who boast multiple players 6’5” and 6’6” — something that played a role in the outcome, according to the coach.
“I think it might have intimidated us early on,” he said. “Utica had a couple big kids and it didn’t bother us, but it bothered us today. I think that kept us from attacking the basket.”
However, he noted that the main culprit was simply poor shooting.
“We were cold again,” he said. “We’ve been cold in three straight games. We can’t have that many single-digit quarters and beat too many teams.”
Ruth also felt his team’s height played a role, especially since the two Kegleys also combined for four three-pointers.
“I thought our height did intimidate them,” he said. “Our 6’6” guys played like they’re 6’6”. I will admit we are very hard to prepare for and they’re believing that now. We just have to stay with our goals for the team and stay healthy.”
Cardington was led by Goodman’s 12 points. For Northmor, four players scored 55 of their 57 points. Both Kyle and Tyler Kegley had 15, Johnson had 14 and Pletcher finished with 11. Parrott, who scored the other two, earned praise from his coach for his work on the other side of the floor.
“In the last two games, Zach Parrott held Devin Pearl and Joe Craycraft (of Pleasant) to a combined 13 points and those guys are 18-20 point scorers,” he said. “His defensive effort is incredible.”