When you match up the second highest scoring team in the state (Northview) versus a team that has four players averaging double figures (Fountain Central), odds are good that there will be a fair amount of points scored in the game. But its unlikely that fans could have predicted the pace that each team would maintain for much of Friday's contest.
The two teams combined for a total of 130 shots from the field in the game, including 37 in the third quarter alone. However, as has been the case for much of the year, the Knights simply have more depth and firepower than most of their opponents to date. Northview shot eight-of-13 from the field in the fourth quarter while the Mustangs fell off to just three-of-18 in the final period resulting in a 90-77 Knight win.
"They are just good athletes," commented Northview coach Mitch Lancaster of the Mustangs. "It's the best team they've had in 15 years, I'd look at them as the favorite in their sectional ahead of Covington."
The Mustangs looked every bit as game as Lancaster believed they would be trailing just 39-38 at halftime after erasing a 10-point first half deficit behind a 15 point second quarter from senior forward Rob Corey who had 22 in the first half.
Senior Travis Hughes was a key for Northview as he tossed in 10 first half points on five-of-seven shooting. He'd be one of four Knights in double figures with 15 in the game.
The Knights trailed 48-46 nearly midway through the third quarter when the pace began to pick up for both teams.
Josh Timm knocked down one of his two 3-pointers in the quarter before Fountain Central's Zach Allen drilled one of his own to ignite the two offenses.
Allen and Corey would get the Mustangs out to a 57-51 lead before Zach Keyes scored a bucket after a Logan Whitman jumper to close the gap to a pair at 57-55. However Allen got a rebound hoop and Cody Gooding delivered after a Timm jumper to make the score 61-57 Mustangs.
All of that within roughly two minutes. But neither team was quite done, especially the Knights and Timm.
Whitman would start a 10-2 run by the Knights to close the quarter when he hit one of his two 3-pointers followed by a hook shot from Keyes, part of his 24 point evening. After a Corey hoop inside, Timm would nail a 3-pointer and Keyes would end the quarter's scoring with a jumper and a 67-63 Northview lead.
All told, both teams combined to shoot 22-of-37 (59 percent) from the field and hit five from long range.
But the Mustangs seemed to simply run out of gas in the end as the Knights kept firing straight and true on their shots while visitors were coming up short.
"I think the pace of play was to our advantage," commented Lancaster. "(Mustangs) seemed to wear down a little in the second half and their shots were coming up short."
The Knights however just kept right on going as they continued that 10-2 third quarter closing run by making it a 23-4 run. Timm opened with a 3-pointer in the fourth period followed by a Keyes hoop and another Timm bomb followed by one from Tyler Akers. The Mustangs simply didn't have a last answer from Corey who had 28 points or Allen who added 26. The two shot a combined two-of-13 in the fourth period. But clearly Timm sparked the Knights' second half rally. "He was definitely feeling it tonight," commented Lancaster. "He's very streaky on offense and he really got on a roll tonight. He was a big key."
According to Lancaster the Northview fans were a big part of the team's 20th win as well as the season. "I'm really proud of the fans who have come out in droves to see us. They've done a lot to push us this year." And it was only fitting that on Senior Night that saw Northview players Ryan Bitzegaio, Amos Wegner and Hughes play their final home game that Lancaster credit the team for their season. "I'm really proud of the team's regular season. You couldn't ask for better kids and for a first year coach to come in and have kids with the work ethic and dedication that these players have, is remarkable."
The Knights head into postseason play on Tuesday night versus the Terre Haute South Braves at 6 p.m. at Terre Haute North High School.
Fountain Central (77)
Bowling 2-5 0-0 6, Harrison 4-8 0-0 8, Corey 12-24 0-0 28, Allen 10-23 4-5 26, Gooding 3-9 1-2 7, Froedge 0-3 2-2 2, Styler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 31-72 7-9 77.
Wegner 3-6 1-2 7, Hughes 7-12 1-2 15, Whitman 6-13 9-9 23, Keyes 10-14 4-5 24, Bitzegaio 0-0 0-0 0, Timm 6-8 0-2 16, Brand 0-1 0-0 0, Greenwood 1-2 0-0 2, Akers 1-2 0-0 3. Totals: 34-58 15-20 90.
3-point fieldgoals -- FC 8-20 (Corey 4-10, Allen 2-7, Bowling 2-2, Harrison 0-1), Northview 7-16 (Timm 4-5, Whitman 2-8, Akers 1-1, Keyes 0-1, Brand 0-1). Total Rebounds -- FC 35 (Allen 10, Gooding 8), Northview 37 (Keyes 13, Hughes 6). Total Fouls -- FC 18, Northview 13. Fouled out -- FC (Bowling). Turnovers -- FC 13, Northview 13.