To start league play with a victory is always good. Starting by knocking off your No. 1 rival and league favorite, well, that is even better.
Northview did just that with a 71-61 Northern Lakes League win at Southview last night in boys basketball.
“It's a great win for us being it's the first league game and we knocked off the team that's supposed to win league,” Northview coach Dennis Shoemaker said. “The kids really did a great job of executing.”
Matt Harsh led the Wildcats (1-1, 1-0 NLL) with a game-high 17 points, including seven in the fourth quarter to help ensure the outcome.
Adam Hirschfeld pumped in 13 points and Cody Shoemaker accounted for 10 as eight Wildcats scored at least one basket.
Harsh, one of four returning starters from a year ago, said they went into the game with confidence. He also said pre-season talk about Southview as the team to beat in the league served as a motivating tool.
“Anytime a team is picked to win the league and you can come in and beat them on their home court, then that's a huge win,” Harsh said.
After trailing 20-17 after one quarter, the Wildcats opened the second quarter by scoring the first nine points to take over the lead for good.
Offensively, the Wildcats were successful passing the ball around and eventually finding wide-open looks at the basket against the Cougars (2-1, 0-1). Defensively, they were able to frustrate their rivals with a zone that limited the effectiveness of Southview's post players. In particular, they held 6-4 center Steve Keyser to two field goals (11 points). Mike Norris had 12 points.
Ray Thomas led Southview with 16 points, but was held scoreless during the third quarter when the Cougars outscored the Wildcats 14-12 to come within five points.
“I thought we were able to box their big guys out and not let them go crazy,” coach Shoemaker said.
“We executed. Our big guys, Josh Maze and J.G. Becker, did a good job for us tonight.”
Maze and Becker contributed nine and seven points, respectively.
Northview led by as many as 11 points on a number of occasions before Southview made one final run at a comeback late in the fourth quarter. The Cougars came within five, 66-61, when Thomas drained his second 3-pointer of the game with 19.3 seconds left. The Wildcats went on to score the final five points at the foul line.
Nevertheless, Shoemaker wasn't completely pleased with the win since the Wildcats made only 20 of 37 foul shots.
“[The outcome] should have been worse,” Shoemaker said. “If we make our free throws at the end we win by 20 points.”