Standout Norwalk guard Brandon Haraway took the opening tip, and with no hesitation, sprinted to the basket for a layup in under five seconds.
Just 45 seconds later, Garrett Obringer attacked the basket and converted a three-point play, catching Sandusky flat-footed.
On this night, it was all Norwalk — and it came from more than Haraway, though the NCAA Division II Ashland recruit also dominated.
The Truckers raced out to a 9-0 lead, and never let up in Saturday’s big 74-55 win over the Blue Streaks in an SBC Lake Division matchup at Norwalk High School.
The win created a three-way tie atop the standings between Norwalk (7-2, 3-1), Sandusky (4-4, 3-1) and Clyde (5-4, 3-1). The Truckers lost at Clyde by a point, and the Blue Streaks beat the Fliers by a point.
But Saturday’s game was over from the start.
“We’re hungry. We feel like we’re doubted a little bit, and we just want to prove ourselves and everyone that we can compete with anyone,” Haraway said.
Norwalk eventually pushed its lead out to 12 by the end of the first quarter, as a huge corner 3-pointer by Will Gehlhausen with 2.1 seconds left made it a 19-7 advantage.
For the duration of the game, Sandusky never got closer than 10 points, which came at 32-22 with 1:04 left in the first half.
Haraway finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists. The aggressive senior guard was 18-of-21 at the free-throw line.
But where the game was won also came down to the supporting casts. Sandusky’s three leading scorers — Tahj Staveskie (15), Dylon Jones (25) and Jayden Greene (4) — combined for 44 of the team’s 55 points.
Haraway got solid help in the form of 15 points and five rebounds from Garrett Chapin, nine points and 13 rebounds from Obringer, and nine points from Austin Brown.
When Sandusky pulled within 12 to begin the third quarter, it was Brown who converted consecutive three-point plays to push the lead back up to a comfortable 42-24 with 6:43 left in the third. The senior also made a 3-pointer in the first half that started an 8-0 scoring run.
“It’s always awesome to score like that,” Brown said. “Especially when you know Brandon is going to score. I want to help him do his best. That’s what I try and do.
“I get down and do the things that others maybe don’t like to do, play defense, and then on offense, try and let things come to me,” he added. “Then I can score when I have the opportunity.”
Sandusky got as close as 14 (62-46) with 3:57 left in the game, and Haraway had just picked up his fourth foul shortly before that. However, the senior shut the door with six consecutive free throws while the Blue Streaks struggled to score, and it was back up to a 19-point game (72-53) into the final minute.
“And that’s what we were concerned with once we got ahead,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said. “When we saw Sandusky against Vermilion (67-55 loss on Dec. 28), they had two or three possessions in the fourth quarter to get within seven and get their crowd into it.
“Fortunately for us, they never got in that position,” he added. “I just thought defensively we were pretty good. Their big three scored 44 points, but I thought we were real solid on everyone else.”
Gray talked about the contributions Norwalk got from Brown, Obringer and Chapin.
“I thought Austin defensively was unbelievable for us,” he said. “He competes, plays hard, and did everything he was supposed to. Obringer is really growing up. For 160 pounds, he’s been big for us inside on the boards and his ability to convert for us.
“And It was at this time last year when Garrett Chapin started really taking off,” Gray added. “And people forget, including myself sometimes, he is just a sophomore. But he played like a man inside.”
Saturday’s win was the fifth straight for the Truckers, who will close the first half of league play this Friday at home vs. Bellevue (4-6, 1-3).
The win also snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Blue Streaks, something that wasn’t lost on the Norwalk players or coaches.
“It’s a real confidence booster, but it also shows the improvement we’ve made from the start of the season to now,” Brown said. “I think tonight is indicative of the kind of team we can be.”
Added Haraway, “We believed we could do it, but now we really know. We just have to build off of it. We know what we’re good at by now, so we have to continue to work on all of our weaknesses.”
In the junior varsity game, Norwalk fell by a 51-45 score. Justin Sommers had 13 points and five rebounds, while both Kyler Kromer and Daniel Traczek each had eight points. Jad Oglesby added eight rebounds.
SANDUSKY (4-4, 3-1)
Jayden Greene 1-2—4; Tahj Staveskie 4-7—15; Dylon Jones 9-4—25; London Havens 2-1—5; Noah Caston 1-0—2; Trent Scott 1-0—2; Ra’Landes Johnson 1-0—2. TOTALS 19-14—55.
NORWALK (7-2, 3-1)
Brandon Haraway 5-18—28; Garrett Chapin 7-0—15; Garrett Obringer 3-3—9; Austin Brown 3-2—9; Ryan Sowders 1-0—2; Ian Minor 2-0—4; Will Gehlhausen 1-3—6; Kyler Lacy 0-1—1. TOTALS 22-27—74.
Sandusky 7 15 19 14 — 55
Norwalk 19 17 20 18 — 74
3-point FGs: (S) Jones 3; (N) Chapin, Brown, Gehlhausen
JV: Sandusky, 51-45