Northmor’s trip to Grandview Heights was anything but hospitable.
The cozy confines and raucous fans created a decided home-court advantage for the talented Bobcats — making life very uncomfortable for the Knights.
The Knights put up a strong effort but weren’t able to overcome a halftime deficit and fell to the Bobcats 59-47.
Northmor head coach Zach Ruth didn’t make excuses.
“The gym was different, that’s what our kids talked about, the locker room had wooden benches,” he said. “They’re a very good team, we can’t hang our heads, they’re the No. 2 seed.”
Defensively, the Knights had to contend with Micha Miller, Jake Bush and Breon Backus for the Bobcats, who were all three named to the All-Central District Team.
Ruth felt his team matched-up well with the talented Bobcats.
“We wanted to take Micha Miller and Jake Bush out of their offense and maybe force their bigs into scoring more than they’re used to,” he said.
The teams were tied at 15 for the first quarter thanks to Demetrius Jonson’s end-to-end basket with 5.4 seconds on the clock.
Grandview extended its lead to 33-28 at halftime with Backus leading the way with nine points.
The Knights turned the ball over 12 times in the half, which contributed to the deficit.
Northmor made a run early in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 34-32 at the 5:08 mark of the period.
That was as close as the Knights would come.
Offensively, Northmor rely on a screen game with Johnson running the point.
“Demetrius is one of the few guys who can create on his own, that’s why it’s important for us to run our offense we need to get our screens,” Ruth said.
The Knights, who used a six-man rotation in the first half, were forced to go to the bench more frequently in the second half.
“We were getting fatigued and Pletcher got in foul trouble,” said Ruth. “We changed our rotation and changed our offense.”
That change limited the Northmor offense’s ability to set sharp screens and score.
The Knights turned the ball over another five times in the third quarter but were only down four points 42-38.
Grandview looked as if they might squander the lead in the fourth quarter when Sophomore post player James Lachey fouled out with 3:51 left in the game.
Northmor was unable to take advantage of the opportunity and Grandview extended its lead.
“I was happy with our defensive effort for the most part,” said Ruth. “We were forced to gamble and do some trapping at the end of the game and that’s what allowed the spread to get wider.”
Gunnar Lilly led the Knights with 15 points, Johnson scored 12 and Kegley added eight.
Bush had 18 points and Bush scored 14 for the Bobcats.
Northmor placed three players on the All-Central District team. Johnson, Kegley and Pletcher were all Honorable Mention.
All three players were recognized by the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. Kegley was named to the First Team, Johnson was Second Team and Pletcher was Honorable Mention.
The Knights return with a majority of their team next season and Ruth is excited about the future.
“Our four seniors set the foundation going forward. They showed good leadership, I told them they paved the road and we’re going to start grooming it now,” he said.
Ruth summed up the Knights effort: “We played hard and played our hearts out, unfortunately it’s not the ending we wanted.”
Northmor ends its season 10-13 overall; 8-6 in the MOAC.
Connect with Tanchevski on Twitter at @mtan62.