Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- After suffering through some pre-holiday blues against a schedule of opponents that had gone a combined 27-9, the Knights came into the 10th Annual Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic Tournament looking to turn things around after an 0-5 start.
Finding out that starting forward, Jacob Musgrave was out for the rest of the season after suffering an ACL knee injury against Avon on Dec. 19 didn't make things any brighter, but the Knights came together on Saturday evening and came away with a 73-51 first round win against Monrovia.
"The kids played well. We put a big Band Aid on us this week losing Jacob (Musgrave)," Northview coach Ernie Maesch admitted. "We had to get some other guys in there playing other positions and I thought the kids came out and executed really well defensively and got Monrovia to stand and they never really got into a rhythm. We were able to knock down some shots and get to the goal a little on them and get to the foul line and I thought that ultimately made the difference in the game. "
Junior guard Trent Lancaster was also a difference maker for the Knights, coming out aggressive and getting to the basket for seven points in the first quarter before hitting the bench with a second foul. At that point the Knights were leading 12-5 with 2:30 remaining in the period and his absence was immediately felt.
The Bulldogs' Grant Watson scored a couple of buckets and Rylan Porter tied the score with a 3-pointer less than 50 seconds after Lancaster sat down.
After halftime, the Bulldogs made a small run of their own as Watson got to the rim for a score, Kyle Everett scored inside and Tim Connor drilled a 3-pointet to get Monrovia within 36-30. What made the difference on this evening for the Knights, was patience according to Maesch.
The Knights looked for good shots and got to the line to maintain and build upon their lead in the quarter.
"We were patient tonight and we didn't look for the first shot to jack it up and I even saw some guys shot fake a 3-pointer that they probably could have taken," Maesch said.
Lancaster completed a three-point play to follow Connor's long-range shot and Jordan Van Horn hit a pair of free throws. The lead remained at six points after Zane Shuee got inside for a bucket, but the Knights finished strong.
Damon Hyatt broke free and sank a 3-pointer with time dwindling in the quarter and after a Monrovia turnover, Caleb Mershon beat the buzzer with his own 3-point bomb and a 51-39 Knights' lead.
"It's contagious when they go in, they'll all go in," Maesch said of the two late 3-pointers in the third period. "That was big and we executed the play, which was even more important. I thought our guys executed some good run outs and got some easy buckets in the game, which was nice too."
The Knights weren't about to squander a double-digit lead heading into the final period and were able to get a number of teammates involved down the stretch. Lancaster might have led the squad with a game-high 29 points, but Bradshaw added 15 for the Knights. In the fourth quarter, Dillon Reynolds scored five of his eight points, Mershon added a pair of buckets to complete a seven-point night and Bryant Pestoff added three late points to go with Jordan Allen's lay-in.
"You've got to have more than three people score to beat quality opponents and we had some other guys step up tonight and I really thought we saw some of them grow up a bit out there," Maesch said. "I thought Damon (Hyatt) and Dillon (Reynolds) did a nice job handling pressure and seeing people, but that is also a by-product of playing Terre Haute North, Avon and Edgewood.
"(Jonathan Bradshaw) and Trent (Lancaster) are leading us real well," Maesch continued. "J.B. was able to score inside and he's a threat in the high post and Trent, they are both coming along and getting their basketball legs under them now."
The Knights' win gives Northview a berth in the second round winner's bracket against a familiar team to Maesch, the Shakamak Lakers, a team he coached just two seasons ago. The Lakers were 68-46 winners against Linton to improve to 4-1 overall and features a roster with a pair of 6'8 players, a 6'7 reserve and 6'4 senior Billy Newton, who tallied over 30 points on Saturday against Linton.
"They are huge and if you get out of position they are going to score an easy basket on you," Maesch said of the Lakers. "We've got to go in with a game plan to execute and play, like I've told the kids, 'crazed.' It's sort of a smaller team going up against a bigger team and we've got to find a way to score against them. They are a lot bigger than when I was there, they all grew," Maesch joked.
Tip-off for Monday's game is at 8:30 p.m. at Terre Haute North.
Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic
Hyatt 1-1 0-0 3, Reynolds 2-4 3-4 8, Lancaster 10-16 7-11 29, Mershon 3-10 0-0 7, Bradshaw 5-11 5-6 15, Talbot 2-4 0-3 4, Van Horn 0-1 2-2 2, Allen 1-2 0-0 2, Hull 0-1 0-0 0, Pestoff 1-1 1-2 3, Rohr 0-0 0-0 0, Rodgers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-51 18-28 73.
Johnson 1-1 0-2 2, Gray 1-9 0-0 3, Conner 2-9 0-0 6, Everett 3-5 1-1 7, Watson 4-9 3-3 11, Benefiel 1-3 0-0 2, Porter 1-3 0-0 3, McCleary 1-4 1-2 3, Shuee 3-5 0-0 6, Sowers 2-5 0-0 4, McIntosh 1 2-2 4, Michel 0-0 0-0 0, Hanson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-54 7-10 54.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 4-14 (Reynolds 1-2, Lancaster 2-4, Mershon 1-7, Allen 0-1), Mn 4-20 (Benefield 0-1, Gray 1-6, Conner 2-6, Watson 0-1, Porter 1-3, McCleery 0-3). Total Rebounds -- Nv 41 (Bradshaw 11, Lancaster 7), Mn 26 (Several with 4). Total Fouls -- Nv 12, Mn 23. Fouled out -- Mn (McCleery). Turnovers -- Nv 7, Mn 6.