The Norwalk boys basketball team shot just 11-of-31 (35 percent) from the floor and did not score in the fourth quarter of Monday's non-league season opener at Huron.
The Truckers were minus the services of All-Ohioan Brandon Haraway — an NCAA Division II Ashland University recruit. In the second quarter, starter Garrett Obringer went out after getting a bloodied face from a collision and did not return.
Within the 32 minutes, Norwalk went scoreless for a 14:48 period over two different stretches.
The Truckers also entered the game with just five practices as a full team after a state semifinal run in football.
Add it all up, and it was the Tigers, who also struggled shooting the ball, who were able to pull away for a 44-33 win.
"We were impatient and rushed our shots, which experience-wise, is the sign of a young team that we had out there tonight," Norwalk coach Steve Gray said. "It's a learning experience, and we're going to be fine. I thought we played exceptionally hard, and I thought some kids fought through some things.
"I'm glad we got the game in with a league game on Friday, and I think tonight helped us," he added.
Trailing 23-17 at halftime after going scoreless for 6:16 of the second quarter, the Truckers got right back in the game in the third quarter.
Down 24-17, Kyler Lacy scored a basket, then added a free throw for a 24-20 deficit — then sophomore Garrett Chapin scored inside to pull the Truckers within 24-22 just 1:18 into the second half. Lacy and Chapin then each split a pair of three throws, and all of the sudden it was tied at 24 with 5:44 left in the third quarter.
But the Tigers quickly grabbed the lead back, and never did trail after the 5:32 mark of the second quarter. Drew Wennes connected on a 3-pointer, and Lacy responded with a pair of free throws to make it 27-26 in favor of the Tigers.
Casey Scroggins then scored back-to-back baskets — including a 3-pointer — to put Huron ahead 32-26 with 3:58 left in the third. Norwalk got within three points twice, the last on a Lacy basket with 31.8 seconds left in the quarter to make it 36-33.
The Truckers did not score again.
"We had 19 turnovers, and that's obviously way too much," Gray said. "We just didn't make sound decisions with the basketball. But we were playing with two kids who had never played point guard before at the varsity level, and it showed.
"But let's give credit to Huron," he added. "Their guards did a good job of pressuring us tonight. I'm not frustrated or mad ... it's just a learning experience. And to be quite honest, for us, this was almost like a scrimmage."
Norwalk opened the game on a 6-0 run, as Chapin scored twice and Obringer added a basket. The Truckers also kept the Tigers off the scoreboard for the first 5:16 of the game in the process.
But the Tigers were able to trim the margin to 12-9 entering the second quarter. Huron then proceeded to go on a 14-0 scoring run for much of the second as Norwalk struggled again with handling the ball and knocking down shots.
It was 23-12 in favor of the Tigers by the time Norwalk got back in the game. Will Gehlhausen snapped the scoreless stretch with a 3-pointer, then Ryan Sowders scored on a driving layup in transition with a minute left in the half to pull within 23-17.
Chapin finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Truckers. Sowders added nine points and four rebounds, while Lacy had seven points and six rebounds.
The Truckers will host Tiffin Columbian in their Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division opener on Friday. They visit Mansfield Madison on Saturday for three games in a six-day stretch to start the season.
Gray said his team will take today off to get their legs back.
"We'll come back in the gym on Wednesday and work hard at getting better," he said. "We'll play better at home, and hopefully we have a lot of students and the football team there and we can play off their energy. But I'm excited about this team. I think we have the chance to be pretty good."
In the junior varsity game, the Truckers fell, 30-27.
Daniel Traczek had five points and four rebounds, while Jad Oglesby added four points and eight rebounds. Drew Shope and Brandon Ehrenberg each had four points and four rebounds, and Hayden Mauer grabbed seven rebounds.
Garrett Chapin 3-3—9; Austin Brown 0-1—1; Kyler Lacy 2-3—7; Garrett Obringer 1-0—2; Will Gehlhausen 1-0—3; Ryan Sowders 3-2—9; Ian Minor 1-0—2. TOTALS 11-9—33.
Casey Scroggins 4-3—13; Drew Wennes 6-2—16; Joey Brown 2-0—4; Matthew Hurst 1-0—3; Joey Harkelroad 2-2—6; Kristian Caporini 1-0—2. TOTALS 16-7—44.
Norwalk 12 5 16 0 — 33
Huron 9 14 13 8 — 44
3-point FGs: (N) Gehlhausen, Sowders; (H) Scroggins 2, Wennes 2, Hurst
JV: Huron, 30-27