GALION — To say this was a successful week for the Cardington boys’ basketball team might be an understatement.
Two days after beating Highland on the road, the Pirates traveled to Northmor for a Saturday night game and left with a 66-58 victory for their second straight road win against a league and Morrow County rival.
“I’ve been telling them ever since the halfway point that we still control our destiny,” said head coach Rod Brown after improving to 10-4 overall and 5-3 in league action. “If we win out, anything can happen. We’ll worry about what we do and with a little karma and help, we’ll be right back in there.”
For the Pirates to win, they had to overcome a fast start by the Knights, especially junior guard Brock Pletcher, who tallied 11 points in the first quarter to stake his team to a 19-12 lead after eight minutes. However, they would outscore the Knights in each of the remaining three periods to take control of the game.
Both teams were hot from the field in the second period. Cardington opened with an 8-3 run sparked by threes from Luke McCarrell and Derek Goodman to get within two at 22-20. However, Northmor battled back with a three from Zach Parrott and five straight points from Tyler Kegley.
Garrett Wagner scored for the Pirates, but another Parrott three gave the Knights a 33-22 advantage with 3:33 remaining in the half. During that span, though, Cardington went on an 11-5 run. Devin Pearl started things off with a pair of long-range shots.
Demetrius Johnson responded with a basket, but Cardington then got a three from Cody Long and a put-back from Skyler Bowling to get within a 35-33 margin before the Knights ended the half with Pletcher’s fourth three-pointer.
Two early baskets by Kegley in the third quarter boosted Norhtmor’s lead to a 43-35 margin, but Cardington didn’t waste any time in erasing that deficit, getting threes from Goodman and Wagner and a two-point shot from McCarrell to knot the score at 43.
The fact Cardington was able to use the three-pointer to get back into the game didn’t surprise Northmor coach Zach Ruth.
“They’re a lot like my team from five or six years ago,” he said. “We’d shoot 10-12 threes a night and had a good streak of games where we made at least 10. If they’re falling, that builds confidence. Hats off to coach Brown. We go there and beat them by 24, then they come here and beat us by eight. That’s over a 30-point swing.”
The teams traded baskets for a few possessions, but Cardington led 51-49 entering the fourth quarter.
The Pirates made sure that lead did not evaporate down the stretch. After Long and Kegley traded baskets to open the fourth, Cardington got shots from both Long and Pearl to move in front by six. Brown noted that since the addition of Long, a transfer who had to sit out the first half of the season, his team is unbeaten.
After the game, Ruth was most upset that his team has dropped two straight games at home.
“To lose two straight home games hurts,” he said. “I take things pretty personally. The community has supported us and we’re putting a good product on the court, but I feel we’ve let them down and that’s partly my fault.”
Pletcher led the Knights with 20 points and five three-pointerf. Kegley added 11, while both Alijah Keen and Parrott finished with eight.