The Norwalk boys basketball came again came close against a top-flight opponent on Saturday — but again fell short in a 71-60 SBC Lake division loss at Sandusky.
Norwalk fell to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the Lake division with the loss. With the win, Sandusky improved to 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division. That puts them one game back in the loss column of Perkins — a team the Streaks just beat on the road with a buzzer-beater on Thursday.
The setback came 48 hours after Norwalk saw a brief lead in the fourth quarter slip away in a 42-31 loss vs. Shelby on Thursday.
“It’s the same thing,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said. “These guys have tremendous heart. They don’t give up and find a way to compete every time out. It was a four-point game late, and they continue to give themselves a chance to win.”
Sandusky (7-4, 4-2) appeared to have the Truckers put away with a 62-51 lead with 2:56 left in the game. But Andrew Ehrenberg hit his fourth 3-pointer, and Brandon Haraway stole the ensuing Sandusky inbound pass and laid it in for two points and a 62-56 deficit in a matter of seconds.
Off a Sandusky turnover, Eric Hull then led a breakaway and set Ehrenberg up for an easy layup with 1:44 left — and in an instant it was a 62-58 deficit for Norwalk.
But the Blue Streaks recovered. Dylan Jones was fouled with 1:22 left and made the first free throw. He missed the second attempt, but Denaryon Swain grabbed the rebound and scored his only basket of the game with 1:10 left for a 65-58 lead.
After a Norwalk miss, Jones was fouled and made both free throws this time for a 67-58 lead with 34 seconds left — putting the game out of reach.
“Swain hits a big shot, and he had not scored all game … it’s just one of those things,” Gray said. “I thought Brandon (Haraway) was much more aggressive and went to the basket more, and Andrew hit some really big shots. It’s just one of those things where they made a couple more plays over the course of the game.”
The Truckers have lost games to Ontario (5-3), Perkins (6-4), Lexington (7-2) and Shelby (7-2) in which they had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes — and were a point away from the same opportunity against the Blue Streaks.
Sandusky coach Colin Irish had seen the Truckers in some of those competitive losses, and knew his team wasn’t going to run away with it.
“Coach Gray is someone I admire and he does a great job with those kids over there every year,” Irish said. “So I knew it was going to be this type of a game, a tough one at the end of a long break — so just really pleased to win.”
Jones finished with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting for Sandusky, while Keith Williams finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Tahj Staveskie had 14 points, and Drayvin McLaughlin added eight points.
Haraway finished with 19 points and six assists for Norwalk, while Ehrenberg had 14 and freshman Garrett Chapin had 11 points and eight rebounds. Eric Hull added nine points and seven rebounds for the Truckers.
Sandusky held off a late rally by Norwalk (4-5) in the junior varsity game, winning 40-36. Andrew Mozina and Garrett Obringer each scored nine points for the Truckers.
Norwalk visits Bellevue (6-3, 3-2) on Friday in SBC play and entertains Ashland (0-8) on Saturday in non-league action.
“I just think it shows these kids that they have the ability and character to win these types of games,” Gray said of Saturday’s late rally. “Certain teams in all sports find a way to lose — and we have to find a way to win.
“Except for being woefully undermanned against Madison and when we didn’t give a championship effort against — we’ve played with everyone,” he added. “We just have to keep working and plugging away.”