By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
The Northview boy's basketball team has a 10-day break heading into the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic after Christmas and on Friday night they made sure that they could celebrate the holidays in style, grasping a 57-55 victory against Edgewood for the team's first win of the season.
The Western Indiana Conference tilt showcased a pair of teams that appear to be much better than their combined 2-8 records coming into the Friday night tussle. Both teams have played a tough slate with losses to ranked opponents. Northview had three losses by a combined six points so it was even sweeter to finally win one of those close calls.
"(Edgewood) is a very good basketball team and I was telling out coaching staff last week that I could see us coming around and doing some things a lot better in practice," Northview coach Ernie Maesch said. "We were taking care of the basketball and recognizing things and hitting some shots we haven't made."
The defensive effort was what stood out for the Knights in this contest as Northview held the Mustangs to six-of-21 shooting over the middle two quarters to build a 36-24 lead heading into the final 17 seconds of the third quarter. However, Edgewood senior guard Alex Narey scored on a drive to the basket and was fouled after the shot, which earned him two free throws and an eventual four-point swing heading to the fourth quarter.
Edgewood big man Levi Garner (6'5) bulled to the hoop for a score and added two free throws and then it was Brandon Owens, scoreless through three quarters, who added a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer to scissor the lead to 43-39 and the pressure was on.
This time though, the Knights held up under the duress.
Jacob Ninesling got the hoop for a score before a jumper by Garner went down. Lancaster uncharacteristically missed two free throws and Garner scored again to get the Mustangs within 45-43.
This time it was Caleb Mershon, who had 12 pivotal points, that broke free in transition, scored and completed a three-point play for a 48-43 lead.
With under three minutes left in the contest, Lancaster pushed the lead to 51-45 with a free throw, but Narey was fouled and hit two from the line as both teams were in the double bonus down the stretch.
"We made it a lot more interesting than it should be, but (Edgewood) can apply a lot of pressure to you. We just needed to do a little better job taking care of the basketball and pull away a little better and make more free throws in a row," Maesch said. "There at the end in the double bonus, (Edgewood) was just putting their heads down and those two guys (Narey and Garner) are awfully hard to stop. They are so massive in size and you couple that with quickness, they are tough to keep off the free throw line."
Braxton Raventos answered a Northview turnover with a score and suddenly the lead had shrunk to 51-49. Mershon answered back with a big score for the Knights before Narey got back to the line for two more free throws.
With 1:11 remaining in the game, Lancaster, who had a game-high 23 points, hit two from the line, but Narey responded on a drive. The Knights' Dillon Reynolds went to the line with 28 seconds remaining and hit one of his free throws to put Northview up 56-53.
Afterwards, Maesch was quick to credit his players for some clutch efforts.
"Jacob Ninesling, Chance Talbot and Jacob Musgrave made some key baskets for us and got some points inside and Caleb Mershon made some baskets there in transition when (Edgewood) was scrambling defensing us and Trent (Lancaster) had a great game in leading us," Maesch said.
"Our defensive effort for the first three quarters was absolutely outstanding. When they started calling fouls then it's hard to guard them," Maesch said. "We didn't want to switch to a zone because we're trying to pride ourselves in playing defense. We did a good job and coach (Phil) Leonard did a great job scouting them. Hunter (Robertson) did a great job on the big kid (Garner) and some other kids helped him and Damon (Hyatt) did a good job on (Alex) Narey and some kids helped him. That's the effort we want and now we have to take that over to the Wabash Valley Classic."
The Knights are now 1-5 overall, 1-2 WIC) and are off until Dec. 27 when they open tournament play against Shakamak at Terre Haute South.
Ridge 1-4 0-0 2, Narey 6-13 9-10 21, Raventos 2-3 0-0 4, Garner 7-14 3-3 17, Newman 0-3 0-0 0, Owens 3-5 2-2 9, Walls 0-0 0-0 0, Pederson 1-1 0-0 2, Selburg 0-1 0-0. Totals: 20-44 14-15 55
Hyatt 2-5 0-0 4, Lancaster 7-11 8-11 23, Mershon 4-10 2-3 12, Talbot 2-3 0-0 4, Robertson 0-2 0-0 0, Reynolds 0-4 1-2 1, Ninesling 3-5 0-0 6, Musgrave 3-3 1-2 7, Hull 0-0 0-0 0, Rohr 0-0 0-0 0, Pestoff 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-42 12-18 57.
3-point fieldgoals -- EW 1-10 (Owens 1-2, Garner 0-4, Ridge 0-2, Newman 0-1, Narey 0-1), Nv 3-13 (Mershon 2-8, Lancaster 1-3, Hyatt 0-1, Robertson 0-1). Total Rebounds -- EW 20 (Ridge 5, Garner 3), Nv 28 (Musgrave 6, Ninesling 5). Total Fouls -- EW 18, Nv 17. Fouled out -- EW (Ridge). Turnovers -- EW 9, Nv 9.