Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- The Northview Knights are still looking to play its best offensive basketball game of the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic. If they are still going to do it, it will come in tonight's championship game against Class 4A 10th-ranked Terre Haute North, a 47-42 winner in the other semifinal game against Sullivan.
The Knights overcame an eight-point deficit (36-28) in the third quarter and were able to hit just enough free throws to clinch a 61-56 victory against Casey-Westfield on Wednesday night.
"We came over here to have a chance to win (the tourney) and we have a chance to win it," Northview coach Ernie Maesch said. "Us and someone else has a chance to win it and it's a one game situation. Anything can happen and I think we match up well with these two teams (Terre Haute North and Sullivan), whoever we're going to play."
The Knights won their fourth consecutive game and used an efficient shooting effort from the field and a defense that did a pretty solid job of limiting a Warriors team that set a tourney record with 91 points in a double overtime win against Linton in the quarterfinals.
Casey built its third quarter lead on a 6-0 run led by two free throws from Ethan Blankenship, a score from 6'6 junior Drew Bolin and an offensive putback by Jeremy Nichols. Zach Murphy added a score to push the gap to 36-28.
Then it was Dillon Reynolds, scoreless to that point, who nailed a 3-pointer and then scored off a fastbreak.
"He's playing with confidence, which I'm glad he's doing," Maesch said of Reynolds. "He took some shots there and he's capable of making every single one of those. I have faith in him and we're going to keep attacking and I think our defense and rebounding and keeping fresh bodies in there, can keep us in any game."
The Knights turned up the pressure in the full court and a Warriors' turnover, one of four in the third quarter, led to a three-point play by Jacob Ninesling that tied the score at 36-all with 1:30 left in the period.
"I keep saying this, but those free throws, those lay-ups and those 3-pointers are going to go in (tonight). We had some good looks and we've not played well offensively for three games and it's just a matter of time," Maesch said.
Hunter Robertson gave Northview a 37-36 lead briefly with a free throw, but Casey freshman Brandon Wolfe, who had 28 points in Tuesday's win, nailed a 30-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to return the lead to the Warriors.
The game remained tight as Casey went to Bolin early and often.
Bolin hit all five of his shots from the field in the final quarter and tallied a team-high 16 points to go with 10 rebounds. Colin Carver scored off a rebound and Bolin scored the next six points for the Warriors.
His offensive rebound after a baseline jumper by the Knights' Caleb Mershon, got the Warriors within 53-52 with under two minutes left in the game.
With the Knights in the bonus, Northview got to the line a number of times with a chance to put the game away, but Trent Lancaster missed the front end of a one-and-one chance with 1:47 left. Bryant Pestoff pushed the Knights' lead to 54-52 and a score by Reynolds added to the lead at 56-52.
Casey went for a foul after a 3-point miss and was whistled for an intentional foul. The Knights couldn't fully capitalize though as Damon Hyatt and Lancaster combined to hit two-of-four shots from the line.
Trailing 58-52, the Warriors drew a foul at the offensive end, but a comment from the bench resulted in a technical foul. Northview missed a pair of shots from the line, part of a seven-of-16 shooting performance from the line in the game.
Casey had one chance left as Murphy scored to get the Warriors within 59-56, but Robertson finished off the victory with two shots from the line to send the Knights to the title game.
Lancaster led the Knights with 16 points with Reynolds adding 12 for the Knights. Robertson had seven points and Mershon rang up 10 points. Chance Talbot led the way with eight rebounds.
The championship game against the Patriots is at 8 p.m. this evening at Terre Haute South High School.
Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic
Reynolds 5-8 0-0 12, Lancaster 7-12 1-6 16, Rohr 1-2 0-0 2, Talbot 0-2 0-0 0, Ninesling 4-8 3-5 11, Hyatt 0-1 2-4 2, Robertson 2-5 3-4 7, Mershon 5-11 0-2 10, Pestoff 0-1 1-2 1, Whitson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-50 10-23 61.
Blankenship 0-3 2-2 2, Carver 3-4 1-2 7, Murphy 4-9 0-0 8, Wolfe 3-10 2-2 9, Scott 3-6 0-0 6, Nichols 4-9 0-0 8, Bolin 8-12 0-1 16, T. Scales 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-53 5-7 56.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 3-13 (Reynolds 2-5, Lancaster 1-3, Mershon 0-4, Hyatt 0-1), CW 1-13 (Wolfe 1-6, Murphy 0-3, Blankenship 0-3, Carver 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Nv 28 (Talbot 8, Mershon 4, Robertson 4), CW 30 (Bolin 10, Murphy 5, Scott 5). Total Fouls -- Nv 11, CW 20. Fouled out -- CW (Scott). Technical foul -- (Casey bench). Turnovers -- Nv 10, CW 13.