Northmor boys use strong first quarter to top Cardington


A huge first quarter gave Northmor separation against Cardington in a Tuesday night KMAC boys’ basketball game and the Golden Knights were able to preserve that lead in topping the Pirates 56-33 to improve to 3-2, 3-1 in league play. Cardington falls to 4-3, 1-2.

The Pirates got off to a strong start in the opening period, getting a three-pointer by Journey Williamson and shots by Merek McClure and Kalin Briggs to take an early 7-4 lead, but the rest of the period was dominated by Northmor.

A three-pointer by Grant Bentley tied the game and another one by Caleb Schnuerer gave the Golden Knights the advantage. From there, the team got five points from Isaac Black, four by Hunter Fulk and two each by Max Lower and Jaxson Wenger to open up a 23-7 lead before a last-second three by Cardington’s Gavin Crockett made it a 13-point game after eight minutes.

“We knew they could come out and shoot it well, but we thought with our defense we could frustrate them, so we didn’t panic in that first quarter,” said Northmor coach Blade Tackett. “It was 4-to-7 and I felt we were in a good spot. We were doing the right things defensively; they just hit some shots. Our offensive execution and defensive execution were amazing. Probably the best first quarter I’ve had as a coach.”

The Northmor defense continued to control the game in the second quarter, with the Pirates only getting two points in the period on a bucket by Briggs.

“When you don’t make shots and you don’t defend, you can’t win a lot of games,” said Cardington coach Jason Rice. “Fulk hit a few big shots, but just overall, I didn’t think we came out ready to play. We weren’t motivated and we weren’t executing our Xs and Os. We’ll go back to the drawing board and hope they come out next Tuesday ready to play.”

Northmor took a 31-12 lead into the half, leaving Tackett really pleased with how his team played on defense.

“We were going to press them, but coach Rice has done a great job,” he said. “They play fast, so I thought they could break our press and get some good looks. We just did what we’re really good at, which is sit in our half-court press and just hard ball pressure, rotate really well and it worked. That’s a credit to our guys. Our top 8-9 guys were just phenomenal tonight. I’m just super-proud of them.”

Cardington was able to get back to a 13-point margin in the third quarter thanks to five points from Warren Garrison and five from Williamson, but Northmor finished the period on a 9-3 run sparked by a pair of Fulk three-pointers.

The Golden Knights would continue to extend their lead in the final period, going in front by as much as 27 before the Pirates finished the game with a pair of buckets. Rice said that with a team that’s still young and inexperienced, it’s important to find a way to not let an off night bleed into future games.

“When we took over, we knew that with us being inexperienced and young that we’d go through some ups and downs,” he said. “It’s just keeping them engaged every single day at practice and getting them to know that when you get punched in the mouth at the beginning, how to come back and just execute towards the game plan. Just try to keep them motivated and not getting too down and not getting too high.”

He added that being able to accomplish that has been a determining factor towards whether his team has won or lost in its first seven games of the season.

“Today and last Thursday were times where we didn’t have that, while last Friday against Danville, we had kids pick each other up at halftime and we made a few runs,” he said. “It’s just hard when you have a bunch of inexperienced kids and younger athletes to consistently do it day in and day out. That’s something we’re working on every day in practice and the kids have it in them. It’s just getting them to believe it.”

Williamson led Cardington with 11. Northmor got a game-high 20 points from Fulk, who hit four three-pointers in the game. Bentley scored 10 and Black finished with eight.

Tackett noted that one issue he hopes to correct is how his team comes out after halftime, noting how they’ve been very strong in the first quarter recently, but have then struggled in the third.

“If we can kind of replicate that third quarter with what we do in the first quarter, the sky’s the limit for this basketball team,” he said. “They hung in there through 0-2 and now we’re sitting at 3-2. We know we’re a good basketball team and I’m just happy they’ve gotten to show it these last three games.”

Max Lower goes up for two points in Northmor’s Tuesday night win over visiting Cardington. Lower goes up for two points in Northmor’s Tuesday night win over visiting Cardington. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Journey Williamson led Cardington in scoring against Northmor on Tuesday. Williamson led Cardington in scoring against Northmor on Tuesday. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel
Golden Knights tally 23 points in opening period

By Rob Hamilton

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Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS

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