The Highland boys’ basketball team got off to a strong start against host Northmor, but the Golden Knights pulled away in the middle two periods to win up with a 55-26 league win on Friday night.
Three-pointers by Jordan Bellamy and Gavin Hankins got the Scots out to an early 6-2 lead. While Northmor would take the lead in the period behind six points by Hunter Mariotti, Highland was still within an 11-8 margin after eight minutes were in the books. Unfortunately for the Scots, they were held to four points in the second period and only two in the third. Northmor would take advantage of that strong defensive play to gradually pull away in the game.
“We got back tonight to how we really are,” said Northmor coach Zach Ruth. “Tuesday and Wednesday, we didn’t even shoot the ball in practice much. I was scratching my head when they had two straight threes to open the game, but then we only gave about two field goals until the fourth.”
Northmor started to run away with the game in the second quarter, as they opened the period with eight straight points — six by Blake Miller — to open up a 19-8 lead. Highland got a score from Drew Santo, but the Golden Knights rebounded with a bucket by Mariotti and a three-pointer by Graesin Cass to lead 24-10 on their way to holding a 28-12 lead going into the half.
“I thought early on, we did a good job guarding those guys,” said Highland coach Chris Powell. “It was tight and they made a shot or two. Next thing you know, they get momentum and ride it out. They’re a smart team and they know how to play, so credit to them.”
In the third period, Highland only got two points on a late basket from Hankins. Meanwhile, Northmor got seven points from Kooper Keen and four from Miller — including a dunk with three minutes remaining in the quarter — as their advantage ballooned to a 44-14 score.
While Highland played better in the fourth quarter, getting six points from Hankins in tallying 12 points, the damage had been done, as the Golden Knights were able to run out the clock to earn the win.
After the game, Powell noted that it will be important for his young team to not let that result affect how they’re playing, saying that in recent games, they had shown improvement.
“We can’t let this result dent our confidence,” he said. “We had a three-point loss, then a win and an overtime loss and then played really hard against River Valley. We can’t let adversity break us and have to respond in a positive way.”
Hankins led Highland with 11 points. Northmor got 16 from Miller, 12 from Marriotti and 11 from both Cass and Keen.
Ruth said that one of things he’s most pleased with this year is how well the boys’ program is doing at all levels, with the varsity, JV and middle school teams all having successful seasons.
“I just made the comment the other day that we’re having a lot of success with the JV, 7th and 8th grade teams,” he said. “Northmor teams, when they take the floor, expect to win. That’s very heartwarming because just a few years ago, that wasn’t the case.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS