GALION — A hard-fought rivalry game ended with Galion knocking off neighboring Northmor 73-64 on Tuesday evening.
“We finally decided we wanted to gel together as a team,” Galion head coach Ryan Stover said. “And the last couple of games we finally got it. Right now we have the most confidence in ourselves to shoot the basketball. Right now we’re playing together and I’m proud of those guys for how hard they’ve played and the effort they’re giving right now.”
Senior Hudson Miller and sophomore Cooper Kent combined for 43 of the Tigers’ 73 points against the Golden Knights. Miller led all scorers with 25 points. He knocked down three three-point field goal attempts.
Kent, who was cleared to play last week after recovering from a broken collarbone he suffered during the football season, connected on a game-high five three-point field goals and finished with 18 points for the Tigers. Kent had one point in limited action against Highland in his first game of the season on Dec. 21.
“With Cooper Kent coming back, he gives us a huge lift,” Stover said. “He’s not ready for the minutes, so it’s kind of a work in progress, but if he continues to give us nights like he had tonight, that’s huge. We’re working him in. If he continues to work like that and we continue to gel, the future is bright for us.”
Senior Garrett Ison added nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds for Galion. Senior Jaxson Oswald added eight points and senior Rece Payne finished with seven points. Sophomore Steven Glew had six points.
Northmor head coach Blade Tackett said his ballclub’s inability to contain Miller and Kent was the main contributing factor in the tough loss.
“They had a couple of guys that played really well,” Tackett said. “We knew that’s what they’re good at. They’re a one-win team, but they’ve played really well, especially lately — especially against Highland. They shot it really well against Highland. We just didn’t execute what we needed to do. We knew we had to pressure their shooters. We had to close out and be physical with them on the catch. Early on we didn’t do that. When they see a couple (of shots) go through, then they find themselves open late in the game, they’re just going to knock them down. … Galion is a talented team, but we just didn’t make it tough on them.”
Sophomore Grant Bentley led Northmor with 23 points. He connected on three three-point field goal attempts.
Senior Maxton Lower added 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for the Golden Knights.
“There’s always positives,” Tackett said. “I mean, we still scored 60. I think we still executed (on offense) when we had guys that got face-guarded. We had a couple of other guys step up. Andrew Armrose hit some big shots. Max is still grinding and getting us points and rebounds like he does. Grant had to work hard all night, but he still got 20. There were still some positives on the offensive end.”
Sophomore Caleb Schnuerer scored nine points and Armrose finished with eight points for the Knights. Senior Graesin Cass added six points and senior Logan Mariotti had five points.
Galion (2-6) overcame an early deficit in the opening period and put together an 8-0 run to close out the period with a 19-12 lead. The Tigers extended their lead to 12 points early in the second quarter, but Northmor closed the gap to 27-23 thanks to a 10-2 run of their own. Miller and Kent each scored six points to fuel a 12-7 Galion run that saw the Tigers take a 39-30 lead into halftime.
Northmor (5-5) outscored Galion 20-14 in the third period to slash the deficit to 53-50 with one quarter left to play. Bentley scored eight points in the third quarter for the Golden Knights.
Miller hit a pair of three-point shots to push the Galion lead to 59-50 early in the fourth quarter and the Tigers held on for the victory.
Stover said he was most pleased with the effort and improvement his Tigers showed against Northmor.
“We wanted it. We dove on the floor after loose balls. We did what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “It’s coming. These guys don’t quit and that’s what we love about them — no quit.”
Tackett noted that the Golden Knights are still working to develop a consistent defensive style of play.
“We’re trying to be a specific type of defensive team and we’re just not there yet,” Tackett said. “We just gotta get over that hump. We can’t be a team that will give up 40 to an undefeated Centerburg team and then also give up 70 to Mount Gilead and Galion, who are good teams with really good shooters. We’ve got to bring the same energy to all of the opponents that we play. It’s hard to win at this level.”
Galion jumps back into Mid Ohio Athletic Conference play on Thursday when they travel to River Valley.
Northmor returns home to open the new year against Cardington on Tuesday.