CLAY CITY -- For those who might have wondered whether Northview might have lost a bit of their firepower from last season. Monday's regular season opener against the host Clay City Eels certainly answered that question.
The Knights shot 62 percent from the field through the first three quarters on the way to an 85-67 win over a scrappy Eels squad.
"I thought we made some good strides tonight," noted Northview head coach Mitch Lancaster. "This is always a tough game for Northview. There's a lot of pressure to win against Clay City. Grant (McVay - Clay City head coach) has gotten these kids stronger and they play really hard." "I've got nothing but good things to say about their club," commented Grant McVay afterwards. "I don't know that I've seen a club with that much firepower since Sullivan a couple of years ago."
Northview got off to a slow start in the first quarter but rapidly made up for it against what proved to be a stubborn Clay City defense.
Leading 19-14 through the first quarter, the Knights blasted off on the back of seniors Zach Keyes and Josh Timm.
Keyes scored 12 points in the period, including a six-of-seven effort from the free throw line on a multitude of baseline moves and drives to the basket. Meanwhile Timm got going with a 3-pointer and six points in the period to help the Knights ring up 29 points in the second quarter.
"I don't think our kids played poorly at all," commented McVay. "They didn't miss a shot in that second quarter, literally. Some of that was transition baskets, but we stuck to our principles on defense and they just hit the shots they needed to hit."
While McVay exaggerated a tad on the Knight's second quarter shooting statistics, it wasn't by much.
Northview knocked down eight-of-nine fieldgoals in the quarter and 10-of-12 from the charity stripe as the Knights raced out to a 48-32 halftime advantage.
"The thing I was most pleased with tonight was our rebounding," commented Lancaster. "Clay City has some excellent athletes, but we did a good job of blocking out to rebound."
Not only did the Knights hit a remarkable 73 percent (16-of-22 from the field), but also dominated the first half boards 23-12 over the Eels who hit 11-of-28 (39 percent) in the half.
Not to be forgotten, Northview senior Logan Whitman went for 15 first half points on the way to a 27 point night to compliment Keyes' 25 points, but the real bonus was Timm's effort.
Timm and Keyes combined for 13 third quarter points to help the Knights edge out to a 63-42 lead after Timm's second 3-pointer of the quarter late in the period. Timm would go on to score 16 in the game for the Knights.
"What Josh (Timm) and Zach (Keyes) gave (the Knights) really broke it open," said McVay.
The Eels however, would not go away quietly despite trailing 67-47 heading into the final quarter.
Jared Defore would come up big in the game, nailing three from long range, including one nearly midway through the final quarter that pulled the Eels to within 73-54. Simultaneously, Northview was called for a foul that eventually led to a technical foul on Keyes. Defore would add another free throw to move within 73-55 at the 5:08 mark.
Clay Jones would bring Clay City even closer when the Eels turned up their defensive pressure. Jones would throw home a layup off a steal to get within 73-57, but the Eels would get no closer as Dan Hoover scored three straight Northview baskets to push the advantage back to 79-59.
The Eels were led in scoring by Defore's 18, followed by 14 from Brock Roberts and eight points apiece from Clay Jones and Camrand Tucker.
The Knights (1-0 overall) will have little time to savor their win before heading to Terre Haute North on Friday night for a huge Wabash Valley showdown. The Eels (0-2 overall) will host Union on Friday night.
Whitman 8-14 9-9 27, Timm6-9 1-2 16, Akers 0-1 0-0 0, Keyes 8-14 9-12 25, Hoover 3-4 0-0 6, Hughes 3-4 2-2 9, Brand 0-2 0-0 0, Greenwood 1-5 0-0 2, B.Crooks 0-0 0-0 0, Landry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-53 21-25 85.
Clay City (67)
Tucker 3-9 1-4 8, Jones 4-7 0-0 8, DeFore 6-15 3-4 18, Roberts 5-15 2-3 14, Harden 4-7 2-3 10, Wells 1-1 2-2 4, Dyer 0-1 0-1 0. Totals: 25-57 8-15 67.
3-point fieldgoals -- Northview 6-13 (Whitman 2-4, Timm 3-5, Hughes 1-1, Keyes 0-1, Brand 0-2), Clay City 7-20 (DeFore 3-8, Tucker 1-2, Roberts 2-6, Vansickle 1-1, Harden 0-1, Jones 0-2). Total Rebounds -- Northview 44 (Keyes 8, Whitman 7, Greenwood 6), Clay City 22 (Tucker 7, Harden 4). Total Fouls -- Northview 19, Clay City 18. Turnovers -- Northview 15, Clay City 12. Technical Foul -- Northview (Keyes, 5:08).