The Knights, unfortunately, starred as the hare in this game as the Artesians played slowly and steadily in defeating Northview 56-42 to advance to the sectional final tonight.
"You have to tip your cap to (Martinsville)," said Northview coach Mitch Lancaster afterwards. "They have great senior leadership and a great team. We just weren't able to overcome the hurdles tonight."
The Artesians were able to overcome a six point deficit in the closing moments of the first half on a 3-pointer by Tim Dearlove and then a steal and 3-pointer from Dustin Huff. At the break the momentum was squarely in Martinsville's favor with a tie score at 26 apiece.
Despite shooting just 39 percent before the half, the Knights made up for that figure by hitting a trio of 3-pointers, but Martinsville nailed five of their own to stay close.
In the second half, the shots slowly dried up for the Knights.
The score seesawed in the early third quarter as Zach Keyes completed a three-point play and Logan Whitman hit a 3-pointer to give Northview a 32-31 lead. After a Justin Guy rebound basket and a Huff freethrow, Josh Timm drilled a 3-pointer to give Northview their last lead at 35-34. After that the Artesians went on top on a Guy jumper and two hoops by Casey Schwab to lead 40-35 after three quarters.
With just eight minutes left in the game and a lead the Artesians were right where they wanted to be with their style of offense.
"We've played our most effective this season when we have played uptempo and we were able to do that at points in the first half," said Lancaster. "In the second half we didn't get the ball to the post at all and basically played from the outside, in, or just from the outside."
Martinsville ran over a minute and a half off the clock in their first possession of the fourth quarter before Schwab scored on a drive and a 42-35 lead. The Knights turned the ball over on their trip down the court and a pattern started to emerge.
Northview would commit eight fourth quarter turnovers in the process of playing behind and would hit just three-of-13 (23 percent) of their final period shots. Shortly into the final quarter, foul trouble put the Knights behind the eight ball as Travis Hughes fouled out after an excellent defensive job on Martinsville's leading scorer Huff. Senior guard Amos Wegner was soon behind him as the Artesians went to the line 23 times in the final quarter.
The Knights would get as close as 46-40 on a 3-pointer from Whitman, who led the Knights with 18 points. But Northview would get just one more hoop, a jumper from Whitman with two minutes to play as Martinsville ended the game on a 10-2 run from the free throw line.
"I think it was a matter of panic," said Lancaster. "They were holding the ball for 40 seconds and I think we felt like we had to get off a quick shot before they held the ball again."
The Northview season comes to a close with a final record of 21-3 while Martinsville advances to 16-6 overall. Afterwards, Lancaster commented on his first season as a Northview coach. "This has been a tremendous year. I think we exceeded a lot of expectations. Tonight's loss doesn't take away from a great season. It was a very rewarding season for me as a coach, this has been such a great group of kids to work with."