Longtime head coach Steve Gray believes it will be sooner than later following Saturday’s 56-48 loss to Lexington at the Richland Source Challenge held at Ontario High School.
The Truckers (2-5) were down a point with 2:30 left in the game, but the Minutemen (4-2) put the game away at the free-throw line. The loss came two days after the Truckers let a 44-43 lead in the final two minutes vs. Perkins (6-1) slip away in a 49-44 loss on Dec. 21.
Add in a 49-43 loss at Ontario (5-1) in the season opener, and that’s three losses in which Norwalk had a chance to win late against teams with a combined record of 15-4.
“This game (Saturday) and Thursday (vs. Perkins) really hurt,” Gray said. “There were a lot of raw emotions. I think the kids feel good about themselves, because they know they played good teams and played extremely hard.
“I think they may see the pot at the end of the rainbow,” he added.
Norwalk trailed the Minutemen after one quarter, 16-12. It was a 30-21 deficit at halftime, and 40-32 through three quarters.
The Truckers finished 18-of-47 (38 percent) from the floor, and were 9-of-11 at the free-throw line. The rebounds were even at 28, and both teams also had 10 assists.
But through statistics, the game was won at the foul line where Lexington was 22-of-27 (82 percent) to Norwalk’s 9-of-11 effort.
“We played so hard, especially defensively, and just came up a couple plays short,” Gray said. “But we went through a couple dry spells during the game. We had some unforced turnovers in the first half.
“In the second half, we only had two turnovers and cleaned it up,” he added. “Again, I just think we played exceptionally hard.”
Brandon Haraway finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Truckers. Jacob Roth added eight points and five rebounds, while Eric Hull had eight points and four rebounds.
Norwalk is at South Central (4-3) on Wednesday, then entertains Willard (3-4) in a pair of non-league games this week.
“It sounds like an excuse, but it was the first week with all of our players available,” Gray said of the losses to Perkins and Lexington. “We took two very good teams to the finish line.
“We need a great practice on Tuesday, and if we continue to do the things we are doing, at the end of the year no one is going to remember the first seven games,” he added.