Senior Matt Crooks drives to the baseline during Tuesday's win over Danville on Senior Night.
Tuesday night's season finale for the Northview basketball team could be just the lesson that they need headed into next week's sectional play.
Coming off a 40 point loss to Bloomington South, the Knights had plenty of reason to be a little skittish before tipoff against Danville. When they were outrebounded, hit just nine-of-27 free throws in the game and trailed 30-20 at halftime versus the Warriors, the Knights might have rolled over, but on the contrary, Northview dug in.
Northview battled back from that double-digit halftime deficit, built as much as a six point lead in the fourth quarter, then trailed by three, but scrapped their way to a 56-54 victory that had coach Mitch Lancaster extolling the grit his team displayed.
"We really challenged our kids at halftime and they responded," noted Lancaster. "I told them we need to treat this game like a sectional game and we're fighting for our lives."
Northview came out and did just that coming out for the third quarter.
Matt Stuckey started off a big second half by hitting a runner in the lane followed by a jumper from Josiah Brock and a hoop from Brodee Miller to narrow the gap to 30-26. The Warriors would fire right back by getting to the line and hitting six consecutive free throws to get their 10 point lead back at 36-26.
Northview could have very easily let the Warriors get away at that point, however, the Knights would pound the boards, getting second chance after second chance in the second half.
The Knights took twice as many shots as the Warriors did in the third quarter and pulled down 10 rebounds to Danville's four.
Brock rebounded a missed shot to get within 36-28 and a Danville foul after the play gave the Knights an extra possession that Brinn Meunier capitalized on with a 3-pointer from the right side. On the defensive end, Brock blocked a shot from Danville and Miller hit a free throw to get the Knights back within 36-32.
"I thought our kids started to get some energy the last two and a half minutes of the first half," said Lancaster. "I'm really proud of how these bounced back from Saturday's loss."
Following a basket from Austin Leath, Jared Timm yanked down a rebound and fed Matt Stuckey for a 3-pointer from the corner to get the Knights to within 38-35 to end the third quarter.
Opening the fourth period, Danville missed three straight free throw chances and Northview followed with another Stuckey 3-pointer that knotted the game at 38-apiece.
Continuing their roll, the Knights pulled out to a 47-41 advantage on back-to-back 3-pointers from Timm and Stuckey. The hoops capped a 21-5 run for the Knights with 4:07 remaining in the game.
Before the Knights could get comfortable, the lead had evaporated inside 20 seconds.
Todd Hanni, who led Danville with 27 points, got to the line and hit two free throws and the Warriors stole the inbound pass for a basket from Nick Runiyon. On the following inbound play, another Northview turnover led to another pair of free throws from Hanni that tied the game with 3:43 left.
Over the final few minutes, the team's would remain tight with Brock and Stuckey scoring baskets along with a free throw from Miller and Hanni leading the way for the Warriors.
Timm would drive to the hoop to squeeze the Knights out to a tentative 55-53 lead and Hanni answered with one-of-two free throws with 1:08 left. The Knights got to the free throw line with 46 seconds left, but their free throw woes would rear its ugly end again as Brock missed two shots from the stripe.
On the defensive end, Hanni would miss for the Warriors and Stuckey hauled in the rebound and draw the foul with 22 seconds left.
Looking to seal the win, Stuckey would miss two shots as well, despite a 25 point night and hitting all four of his shots from the field. Danville, looking to take the lead, brought the ball down with 12.9 seconds left, Leath missed a 3-pointer, Lance Robinson got the rebound and missed a putback attempt and Trevor Leach missed another shot before Michael Medearis pulled in the rebound with 2.2 seconds left.
Medearis hit the first shot to put Northview ahead 56-54 before a timeout.
He would miss the second intentionally, but the ball missed the rim, giving Danville the ball out of bounds with no time off the clock. On the inbound to halfcourt, Danville got a shot off that fell short as Northview held on for the victory.
Brock and Miller were big on the boards for the Knights, pulling down a combined 21 rebounds and got five-of-six 3-point shooting from Stuckey. "(Brock and Miller) really battled and went for every loose ball," commented Lancaster. "I told the kids to forget Saturday's game and we played much better when we played aggressively tonight."
The Knights (13-9) will face off with Plainfield in the Mooresville Sectional on Friday, March 3 at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Northview 56, Danville 54
Robinson 2-11 4-4 8, Leach 2-7 0-0 5, Ator 2-4 2-6 6, Leath 0-3 2-2 2, Hanni 8-14 9-11 27, Runiyon 2-7 0-0 4, Hensley 0-2 0-0 0, Cooper 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 17-50 17-23 54.
Crooks 0-0 0-0 0, Chamberlain 0-3 0-0 0, Medearis 2-5 1-2 5, Miller 2-9 2-12 6, Reece 0-0 0-0 0, Meunier 1-5 0-0 3, Timm 3-7 2-4 9, Stuckey 9-14 2-4 25, Brock 3-5 2-5 8. Totals: 20-48 9-27 56.
3-point fieldgoals -- Dv 3-15 (Leach 1-3, Hanni 2-3, Leath 0-2, Robinson 0-2, Runiyon 0-2, Hensely 0-2, Ator 0-1), Nv (7-13 (Stuckey 5-6, Timm 1-1, Meunier 1-4, Chamberlain 0-2). Total Rebounds -- Dv 33 (Robinson 8, Hanni 7), Nv 41 (Brock 12, Miller 9). Total Fouls -- Dv 20, Nv 18. Fouled out -- Nv (Miller). Turnovers -- Dv 10, Nv 13.