GALION — Northmor welcomed Grandview Heights, one of the top Division III teams in the state, to their home Tuesday, and held on for a 52-49 victory.
The Knights were looking to stop a two-game losing skid, and Grandview Heights had just recently been knocked from the the Division III Top 10 rankings.
“That’s why I scheduled Grandview,” said Northmor head coach Zach Ruth. “I knew that it would be a tough matchup and it’s nice to get a preview of teams that we may see in the postseason.”
With the victory, Northmor improves to 11-5
The beginning of the game was a different story than the end result.
Northmor won the tip but Tyler Kegley missed on a deep, three-point field goal attempt, giving Grandview Heights their first possession. The Bobcats, determined to control the tempo of the game rattled off a 10-0 run to start the first quarter. In fact, it wasn’t until there was 3:38 left on the clock in the opening period that Meechie Johnson scored Northmor’s first bucket. At the end of one period, Grandview had a 14-5 lead and appeared to be in control.
However, the Golden Knights came to life in the second and caused the Bobcats to burn a quick timeout with their lead trimmed to 19-14. But Northmor’s rally continued and they grabbed a 25-22 lead at the half.
Grandview Heights trailed 42-38 after three periods.
The final quarter was a match of knowledge and awareness on the court as well as on the sidelines. With the score already tight, Northmor’s Johnson turned the ball over in the front-court on a five-seconds call with 1:07 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Tyler Kegley came up with a big block for Northmor and the Knights recovered the ball.
At the 20.3 second mark, the Bobcats committed a costly turnover to hand control of the ball and the game’s outcome to Northmor. Brock Pletcher was sent to the line for the Knights with just 7.7 remaining for a one-and-one. Up until that point Pletcher, one of the Knights’ most effecient free-throw shooters, was 0/4 from the charity stripe.
Pletcher hit the front end of the foul shot, but missed the final shot, making the score 52-49.
Needing a three to tie the game and send it to overtime, Grandview Heights’ Breon Backus quickly got the ball into the front-court and dished it off to Brian Collier in the corner for the potential game-tying shot.
It rimmed out, giving Northmor the victory.
“It was a designed play,” Ruth said. “They had a timeout left and didn’t use it. It was the same type of play that Villanova used last year to win the NCAA Championship.”
Collier missed just one other shot on the evening prior to the buzzer-beating attempt and finished with a game high 21 points. Jordan Butler was the only other Bobcats’ player in double figures, scoring 10.
Grandview would shoot 53% overall for the game from the field. The Bobcats woes came from the 2/12 that they shot from the free-throw stripe. They were outrebounded by Northmor, 33-21.
The Golden Knights shot 19/42 (45%) for the contest, including 5/16 (31%) from the perimeter and hitting on 9/15 free-throws. In addition to the 33 team rebounds, the Golden Knights dished out nine assists, recorded seven steals, had five blocked shots and forced 14 turnovers on defense. Northmor committed 13 total turnovers.
Meehie Johnson was the top scorer for the Knights, scoring 14 points, while also grabbing four rebounds, notching three steals and getting a big block on a corner three-point attempt. Kyle Kegley had 11 points, nine of which were from deep. Tyler Kegley had nine points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Alijah Keen scored eight, Pletcher finished the game with six points and Zach Parrott scored four.
“We were having a bit of an identity crisis the last few games. Sure there were injuries, but you will have that,” stated Ruth. “It was nice to come out and get the win and have my kids see what a game like this can do to their spirits.”
Northmor will be back in action on Thursday Feb. 2 when they welcome the East Knox Bulldogs to town for a MOAC Blue matchup. They are at Elgin on Feb. 3