Up until the early stages of the second quarter, host Northmor was able to keep up with a Colonel Crawford squad returning a pair of All-Ohio players in Carter Valentine and Mason Studer.
The Golden Knights opened the second period with back-to-back three-pointers by Caleb Schnuerer and Logan Mariotti to turn a 16-9 deficit into a one-point game at 16-15 with 6:27 to go in the first half on Tuesday. Unfortunately for Northmor, the rest of the game would be all Eagles, as Colonel Crawford blew things open and wound up on top by a 61-23 margin.
“I thought we did a great job on (Grant) Bentley and (Graesin) Cass,” said Eagle coach David Sheldon. “That was our focus tonight. With our length and physicalness, we can get out and run.”
Colonel Crawford did a good job of keeping Northmor’s starting guards in check. After the duo combined for 38 points in a season-opening win over Pleasant, they were held to only one by the Eagles.
“That’s what Colonel Crawford is good at — taking away what other teams are good at,” said Northmor coach Blade Tackett. “We know that both of those kids will be okay. They’ll bounce back and have a good game Friday (against Danville). I really believe that.”
The game was up for grabs in the early going. While Valentine got off to a great start for Colonel Crawford with 10 first-quarter points, Northmor was able to keep it close. Four points from Max Lower and five by Hunter Fulk kept them within a four-point margin until the Eagles finished the period with a Braxton Baker three-pointer to lead 16-9 after eight minutes had elapsed.
Two three-pointers made it a one-point game early in the second, but the Golden Knights would only muster three points over the final 6:27 of the period. During that stretch, Colonel Crawford got seven points by Baker, four from Valentine and two from Jacob Maddy in taking a 29-18 advantage into the locker room.
The Eagles would steadily add to their lead in the second half, as they held Northmor to two points in the third quarter and a Schnuerer three-pointer in the fourth. Meanwhile, Valentine tallied nine points by himself in the third and the team was able to build a 35-point lead in the fourth to cause a running clock for the final 5:45 of the game.
“Our guys are resilient,” said Tackett. “It’s a great team and we played poorly. We’ll bounce back. We just hit a dry spell I didn’t expect us to go through this year. We kept turning it over and missing lay-ups and free throws.”
Sheldon noted that he expects Northmor to get better this year.
“That sophomore class is good,” he said. “They’ll win some games this year.”
But on Tuesday, it was his experienced Eagle team that got the job done. Valentine finished with a game-high 23 points, hitting three three-pointers in the game. Baker added 14. The coach also was very pleased with Studer’s work at point guard, noting that his passing led to a lot of his team’s points.
“Mason Studer had a ton of assists,” he said. “That’s the key to our success — can we share the basketball and create some shots down the floor.”
As for Northmor, Tackett simply said his team, which was led by Lower’s seven points, needs to regroup for its league opener on Friday.
“I’m not going to stress too much about it,” he said of the loss. “We have a resilient group and played a good team. We have to move on and prepare for Danville.”