Times Sports Editor
Slightly more than two weeks remain in the boys' basketball regular season and the Northview Knights may have found the key to future success on Saturday night.
The Knights typically are successful when they are hitting at a high rate from beyond the 3-point arc, but struggle when their marksmanship does the same.
Against visiting Plainfield, Northview hit just 3-of-14 from 3-point range, but their post players had great success, combining for 24 points and the Knights came away with a 59-56 victory.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well at all, but we still got a victory," Northview coach Ernie Maesch said. "I'm happy to get a win, shooting the percentage that we shot from the outside. When they came after us late in the game we got some lay-ups, but for the most part we've got to do some shooting."
The Quakers were armed with 6'8 senior Marcus Mershon in the post, but the Knights did a good job of driving the basket, drawing the defense and finding a cutting post player. Jim Mace and Jacob Ninesling hit all three of their combined shots in the first quarter and six total in the first half as the team's played to a 26-25 Knights' lead.
Plainfield was struggling to stop the Knights, but the Quakers were pounding Northview on drives to the basket and second-chance opportunities as Mershon had seven of his 17 rebounds before intermission.
The game remained tight in the third quarter as Northview pushed out to a 30-25 lead on back-to-back buckets by Ninesling on lay-ups off assists from Damon Hyatt and Dillon Reynolds. A jumper by Reynolds would bump the advantage to 34-28, but Mershon hit the boards for an offensive rebound and a put back. A turnover by the Knights led to a pair of free throws by Luke Jones and suddenly the lead had dwindled to 34-32.
Enter freshman Joe Ball, who played some important minutes off the bench to give Northview guards a breather.
Ball took a pass from Hyatt and fired home a 3-pointer and Chance Talbot followed with a score in transition and the lead was back to 39-32. Another 3-pointer by Ball to end the period gave the Knights a 43-36 advantage.
Maesch was quick to note the importance of those daggers by Ball that gave the Knights a lead that grew as large as 49-37 in the fourth quarter following a score by Craig Peters.
"When you get those passes that our big guys were getting it's a lay-up, but when you have a 6'9 guy there, he can alter the shot just enough so it's not an easy shot," Maesch said of Mershon's affect on shots in the paint. "I thought Joe Ball gave us a real shot there and helped us get up 10 or 11 points. That was a good spark there in the third quarter when he hit a couple of 3's that ended up being the difference."
Ninesling would answer back with two free throws and his steal at the defensive end led to a pair of free throws from Reynolds, who had a game-high 17 points.
The lead grew back to 53-43, but some free throw woes by the Knights and some ill-timed fouls in the paint allowed Plainfield to claw back to within 54-49 on an offensive board and score by Josh Courtney with 1:18 remaining.
"We just have to learn how to take care of a game," Maesch said. "Basically we need to play a little smarter defensively. We had some young guys underneath the goal down there and they need to get some rebounds for me and they need to not foul. We spread (Plainfield) out, up 10 or 11 points, we wanted to shoot free throws and lay-ups and all of a sudden we took a couple of ill-advised shots, missed some free throws and before you know it they are within striking distance."
Hyatt went to the line and hit 2-of-4 shots and Reynolds added two free throws for the Knights, but Luke Jones added two of his own. Northview would go to the line 19 times in the final quarter, but missed seven of them to give Plainfield hope.
Ninesling would miss a pair and Peters would hit 1-of-2 with several seconds left in the game and Northview leading 59-53. Plainfield's Tim Baute would hit a half-court heave to create the final three-point margin.
Ninesling was a perfect 6-of-6 from the field with five rebounds and Mace added eight points and four boards. Hyatt added eight points and five boards.
In the junior varsity contest, the Knights came out on top 46-41 led by 16 points from Daniel Kimball and seven apiece from Christian Ellis and Nate Newton.
The Knights (6-10 overall) travel to South Putnam on Thursday night for a 6 p.m. junior varsity start.
Hyatt 1-8 6-10 8, Peters 1-9 2-4 4, Reynolds 5-12 6-6 17, Ninesling 6-6 2-4 14, Mace 4-8 0-0 8, Ball 2-2 0-0 6, Talbot 1-1 0-0 2, Pestoff 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-46 16-25 59.
Jay 2-9 0-0 5, L.Jones 3-12 4-4 10, Baute 4-7 2-5 11, Courtney 7-11 1-2 15, Mershon 5-9 3-7 13, C.Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Aldridge 1-2 0-0 2, Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-52 10-17 56.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 3-14 (Ball 2-2, Reynolds 1-2, Peters 0-7, Hyatt 0-3), PL 2-10 (Jay 1-6, L.Jones 0-3, Baute 1-1). Total Rebounds -- Nv 25 (Ninesling 6, Hyatt 5, Mace 4), PL 38 (Mershon 17). Team Rebounds -- Nv 3, PL 2. Total Fouls -- Nv 11, PL 20.