Clinton -- The Northview Knights faced a challenge Saturday night at South
Vermillion High School that was every bit as big as their Friday night contest with Terre Haute South -- How would they react to their first loss?
The Knights had to overcome human nature and the fired up South
Vermillion Wildcats for an 86-62 victory that came much harder than the final margin indicates. Northview trailed 44-40 in the third quarter and led just 52-49 going into the final eight minutes of the contest.
"Coach [Ryan] Luce and South Vermillion played very hard and very well, went after rebounds and loose balls and really outhustled us for three quarters," Northview Coach Mitch Lancaster said.
Sparked by Tyler Akers and Craig Greenwood, who combined for 17 points and nine rebounds in the fourth quarter, Northview outscored South Vermillion 34-13 the final period to remain undefeated [4-0] in Western Indiana Conference play.
"We had a really nice fourth quarter. Up to that point we were on our heels and we were flat footed and they were taking it to us," Lancaster said.
Akers scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in the final quarter and finished with 13 points and eight boards for the contest. Greenwood had six points and four rebounds in the deciding period and closed his night with 10 points and six boards.
"We got a big lift off the bench from Tyler Akers who came in, [and] not only did he score, he rebounded for us and gave us a spark, and it seemed to ignite us. And Greenwood came and got some buckets and rebounded a little bit. We were getting outrebounded for three quarters," Lancaster said.
Up to that point, South Vermillion's hustle and aggressiveness proved Lancaster right. The Knights were flat.
"I told [the Knights], human nature means we're going to be flat. We're not going to come out [strong]. We've got to overcome that and forget about last night, and we really didn't for three quarters. I guess I proved human nature right again," Lancaster said.
Northview shot 46 percent [32-69] from the floor against a sagging South Vermillion defense. But that percentage came from hitting 12-of-19 in the final stanza because the Knights shot just 40 percent [20-50] through three quarters.
"We also learned to reverse the ball a few times and then we broke them down and that seemed to help," Lancaster said.
The momentum started swinging to Northview in the final 3:20 of the third period. With the score tied 45-45, Zach Williamson, South
Vermillion's 6-4 sophomore center, who pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, was called for his fourth foul. Seconds later Josh Timm hit a 3-pointer that put the Knights ahead for good at 3:06.
Greenwood went on his own 6-0 run that closed out the third period and gave the Knights a 56-51 lead with 6:31 to play in the game. Timm knocked down two free throws.
The Knights held the Wildcats without a field goal five minutes of the fourth quarter. Back-to-back steals and layups by Logan Whitman, who had 19 points, and Akers gave the Knights a 62-53 lead that continued to grow.
South Vermillion, 1-11 overall and 0-3 in the WIC, hasn't played four quarters against a team of Northview's caliber.
"I think more so than anything else [playing that well] mentally
fatigued us. We had a few execution blips where we didn't step up and knock down a few key shots. " Luce said of the final period.
"A few free throws didn't drop, and a few inside shots that are usually [easy] didn't fall and I think it translated on the defensive end as well. When the shots didn't fall we kind of lost track of our minds for a second on the defensive end and gave up a few choice opportunities that swung the game in their favor," Luce said.
Northview returns to action on Saturday night with a WIC contest at Brown County.