But for a team admittedly a work in progress, there were few complaints.
The Norwalk boys basketball team never trailed in Saturday’s 61-50 non-league win over North Ridgeville at the high school.
But the Truckers (5-2) never really put the Rangers away for the better part of 29 minutes. North Ridgeville was within one possession eight different times and tied the game three times before Norwalk put the game away in the fourth quarter.
For a game it controlled on the scoreboard, it never felt in control until under three minutes left.
“It was a weird game in a lot of different ways,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said. “But I thought the key to the second half was that we had nine offensive rebounds. In the first half we only had one. I just thought everyone played well in the second half.”
Leading 26-24 at halftime, Norwalk opened the second half with back-to-back baskets in the third quarter. Garrett Obringer fought for an offensive rebounds and scored on a putback, and Ryan Sowders also scored inside for a 30-24 lead.
“I think one of the key points of the game was when Obringer just went after an offensive rebound and scored,” Gray said. “His offensive rebounding down the stretch was really important.”
Norwalk extended its lead to 36-29 on a Brandon Haraway running layup at the 4:31 mark of the third. But the Rangers (2-4) closed the quarter on a 10-5 scoring run on a sequence that should have been momentum for the Truckers.
Haraway put down a slam dunk with 1:44 left in the third that gave Norwalk a 41-34 lead. However, he was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim — though a North Ridgeville player had closed underneath him.
The Rangers’ Jeremy Sanchez sank both free throws, and when they got possession again, scored on a 3-pointer by Jason Vrba. The five-point swing made it a 41-39 game entering the final eight minutes.
It was still a 43-41 game inside of seven minutes left when the Truckers finally got some separation for good.
Garett Chapin scored on back-to-back possessions — then Austin Brown was fouled with 5:28 and made both free throws for a 49-41 lead. After a Ridgeville miss, Kyler Lacy was fouled inside and also made both free throws to cap an 8-0 run and put Norwalk up 51-41.
The Rangers’ then got a split at the line, but Lacy scored inside for a three-point play with 4:26 left to put the Truckers up 53-42. But Norwalk wasn’t done, as Obringer and Sowders put the cap on the win with back-to-back scores inside to extend the lead to 57-42 with 2:45 left.
Sowders had a big game off the bench. The junior finished with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and added eight rebounds and four assists.
“He was outstanding tonight,” Gray said of Sowders. “I think with our team, what the kids have to eventually understand … when I sub it’s not because the kids are doing something wrong.
“It’s that I think we have eight kids who all deserve to play,” he added. “If they are all going to play hard, they are all going to get minutes — and I think that makes us a better team.”
Haraway led Norwalk with 21 points and added six rebounds. Obringer had eight points and six rebounds, while Chapin added eight points, three rebounds and three assists.
Norwalk has won five of its first seven games, and has both a road win and loss by a single point. The Truckers are now a month out from the end of the football season, and host unbeaten South Central (7-1) next Saturday.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Gray said. “We’re still figuring each other out and what combinations work best together — but we’re eventually going to get there.
“Once we do, I think we’ll be a really good team,” he added. “Right now, we’re OK. And that’s just because that’s how good I think we can eventually be. We have a lot of work before then.”
In the junior varsity game, Norwalk fell to 3-4 with a 40-39 loss in overtime. Brandon Ehrenberg had 10 points and Justin Sommers scored nine.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (2-4)
Cole Payne 2-0—4; Desean Fitzpatrick 0-3—3; Jeremy Sanchez 4-5—13; Jason Vrba 2-1—7; Tyler Cadle 1-0—3; Zach Perkins 8-0—16; Noah Bayer 1-1—3; Mikey Richmond 0-1—1. TOTALS 18-11—50.
Brandon Haraway 8-4—21; Kyler Lacy 2-2—6; Garrett Chapin 4-0—8; Garrett Obringer 4-0—8; Austin Brown 0-4—4; Will Gehlhausen 0-2—2; Ryan Sowders 4-1—10; Ian Minor 1-0—2. TOTALS 24-10—61.
N. Ridgeville 9 15 15 11 — 50
Norwalk 15 11 15 20 — 61
3-point FGs: (NR) Vrba 2, Candle; (N) Haraway, Sowders
JV: North Ridgeville, 40-39, OT