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The Journal Gazette

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Huntington North senior Hank Pulver goes to the basket against the defense of Norwell junior Will Geiger during the first quarter.

Saturday, February 09, 2019 1:00 am

Huntington N. 48 Norwell 32

Defense in 1st half sets up Vikings

Norwell fails to score until late in 2nd quarter in NE8 showdown

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

OSSIAN – For Norwell, the first half of Friday night's game against Huntington North went, in the words of coach Mike McBride, “about as bad as you can draw it up.”

The Vikings, on the other hand, didn't play perfectly, but they did hold the Knights scoreless for the first 14 minutes of the game and built up a large enough lead to cruise to a 48-32 victory. 

“We let them know at halftime, if we executed better on offense, we'd be up by 20,” said Huntington North coach Craig Teagle, whose team led 18-0 before Norwell's Levi Leidig hit a 3-pointer and Will Geiger made two free throws to end the half. 

Norwell's Garrison Brege hit a 3-pointer to open the second half and pull the Knights, who had been tied with Huntington North for second place in the NE8, within 10 points. But Sawyer Stoltz, who scored 10 points for the Vikings (15-3, 6-1 NE8) in the first half, immediately followed up an old-fashioned three-point play on the other end. After that, the Knights (11-7, 5-2) were never able to close within 10 points. 

“We just weren't able to string enough stops together, and a lot of that was we were trying to trap here, and they were able to make that one extra pass and get a layup,” McBride said. “Credit to them for being able to take care of the ball. We put ourselves in such a bad position that it made it hard for us to be able to come back where we needed to.”

Stoltz finished with a game-high 20 points and had more points than Norwell had as a team until the end of the third quarter. Teagle was also pleased with the way his 6-foot-5 forward guarded Norwell's Will Geiger, who scored just once from the field. 

“Geiger's arguably the best player in the conference, him and Ali Ali (of East Noble) are neck-and-neck, but he's relentless, so I thought Sawyer did a good job on him,” Teagle said. “And everybody had to pinch and worry about trying to help in the post, which gave them some 3s that they knocked in. But I thought, overall, a pretty good defensive performance for us.”

Hank Pulver scored 12 points for the Vikings, and Trey Williams had seven.

Levi Leidig led the Knights with 10 points, and Brege and Geiger each had eight. 

“We talked to our guys, tried to get our guys to understand that we needed to be a little more patient offensively tonight, and I don't think we displayed that in the first half,” said McBride, whose team shot 21 percent from the field, including 2 of 13 on 2-point attempts. “They did a good job defensively of coming out, they were very physical. They took away a lot of things that we try to do. They took away our cuts. They had a body on everything we tried to do, and got us a little out of our comfort zone.”

East Noble (16-2, 7-0) clinched its second straight NE8 title with a win over New Haven on Friday, while Huntington North took over sole control of second place and Norwell slipped to third. 

“We really wanted to win this one,” Teagle said. “We feel like we're so much better than we were earlier in the year when we played East Noble, so we've really improved. But we knew it was going to be a tough contest.”

Friday's game was the first in a four-game gantlet for Huntington North, which will play South Side at Huntington University today, Carroll on Tuesday and at Plymouth next Friday.

“These next three games are really, really tough, so it was important to have a good start tonight, get off on a winning foot in this stretch,” Teagle said.