Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- Coming off a nearly two-week break between games, the Northview Knights shook off a bit of early rust to capture a solid win to open play in the 13th Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic on Thursday morning.
"After having a couple of days of being out, the guys did a good job today when we had shoot around this morning," Northview coach Clint Weddle said. "I was very happy with that. I was pleased to walk away from the first day with a win."
Despite battling some early foul issue amongst their frontcourt, the Knights held a 12-10 lead after one quarter as Joe Ball knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and Ethan Whitson scored a pair of early hoops.
Whitson would miss much of the first half with a pair of fouls along with Monrovia's 6'5 senior Chase Casteel. However, the Knights' depth in the frontcourt paid dividends most evident on the glass.
Northview's 6'6 junior Jim Mace did yeoman's work in the second period, grabbing 10 boards by himself as the Knights held a 24 to 12 advantage in rebounding before halftime. However, the defense provided a pivotal spark as back-to-back steals and lay-ins by Craig Peters and Travis Hakman opened up a 22-10 lead for the Knights with 3:49 left before halftime. A bucket by Christian Ellis helped give the Knights a 27-11 lead at the break.
The Northview defense held Monrovia without a field goal in the second quarter as the Knights outscored the Bulldogs 15-1 in the period.
The return of Casteel in the third quarter helped spark Monrovia in the early minutes as he nailed a 3-pointer and added two free throws to get the Bulldogs within 31-18. Whitson responded with a hoop for the Knights and 3-pointers from Peter Tanoos, Hakman and Craig Peters opened up a 42-21 gap for the Knights. Coming off the bench, Tanoos' play at the point was key as the senior hit all three of his shots in the quarter for a 54-32 lead for the Knights.
"Peter (Tanoos) was a spark plug. He's the same way in practice," Weddle said. "He has brought great energy and I like the fact that he continues to make positive decisions with the ball."
As Northview substituted liberally over the latter stages of the third quarter into the fourth period, Monrovia heated up with a 12-2 run. Casteel completed a three-point play on his way to a game-high 21 points, and a 3-pointer by Ross Bolton got the Bulldogs within 56-44. Joe Ball, who had 13 points and seven rebounds, knocked home a pair of free throws to slow the run by Monrovia. However, Casteel scored and a turnover by the Knights led to a free throw by Bolton. The Knights got two free throws from Peters, who had a team-high 17 points. Bolton then dropped home a 3-pointer to get his team within 60-52.
Monrovia would claw within 62-55 with 1:21 remaining, but the Knights would finish out the win from the free throw line.
Weddle noted his team's lull in the second half, but felt that it would bolster his team's confidence down the road.
"We've had ups and downs throughout the season, usually it's the first quarter. Today that might have been part of the third and part of the fourth (quarter)," Weddle said. "The thing I like about that is, the only way our guys grow is to get themselves through that. I'm going to let them play a little bit and we had an opportunity to do that today.
"These guys are excited as anything to be here and to have a win," Weddle added. "I think that speaks volumes of the type of tournament this is and the environment that it creates. I'm happy for them to get that 'W' and to take away a lot of little things today."
Northview advances into a quarterfinal match-up with Shakamak this afternoon at 1 p.m.
Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic
Peters 4-9 7-9 17, Ball 3-5 4-4 13, Hakman 2-7 0-0 5, Whitson 3-7 1-2 7, Mace 2-9 0-1 4, Tanoos 3-3 0-1 7, Clark 1-3 1-2 3, Ellis 3-8 0-3 6, Rogers 0-0 2-2 2, Ragan 1-1 0-0 2, Kimball 0-0 0-0 0, Newton 0-1 0-0 0, Underwood 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-53 15-24 66.
Bolton 7-13 3-6 21, Gray 1-3 1-2 3, Fite 3-12 1-2 7, Burgess 1-6 0-0 3, Casteel 6-17 8-11 21, Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Hale 0-1 0-0 0, Benge 1-2 0-2 2. Totals: 19-54 13-23 57.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 7-21 (Ball 3-5, Peters 2-6, Tanoos 1-1, Hakman 1-6, Ellis 0-3), Mn 5-17 (Bolton 4-9, Burgess 1-5, Gray 0-2, Fite 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Nv 45 (Mace 12, Ball 7), Mn 25 (Burgess 8, Fite 5). Team rebounds -- Nv 1, Mn 3. Total Fouls -- Nv 20, Mn 18. Fouled out -- Nv (Whitson), Mn (Gray). Turnovers -- Nv 19, Mn 14.