When Norwalk’s Kyler Lacy converted a three-point play to start the third quarter of Saturday’s non-league game vs. 1-win Port Clinton, it put the Truckers up 36-16.
That part was expected.
But at that point, the SBC’s leading scorer, Brandon Haraway, had not scored in the game. On this night, it wasn’t necessary in Norwalk’s 67-46 win over the Redskins.
The Truckers improved to 14-2 and have won 12 straight games ahead of a brutal stretch in the schedule.
There was also no need to worry about Haraway. The NCAA Division II Ashland University recruit scored 17 points in an 8:36 stretch of the third and fourth quarters before sitting the final 6:11 of the game. He added seven assists, three rebounds and three steals.
“If you have 10 eyes locked in on Brandon, teams can shut him down,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said. “And by shut down, I’m talking 10 or 12 points … But Garrett Chapin’s shot is looking better, and I thought Garrett Obringer was our best player tonight.
“Austin (Brown) and Ryan (Sowders) were also very good,” Gray added. “He shot the ball well and is playing with confidence right now. But it’s a positive that we can play at this level without Brandon scoring. But then in about seven minutes he had 17 points, and that was with a missed layup and free throw.”
It took about half of the opening quarter to get going, but the Truckers were never threatened.
Sowders scored all seven of his points consecutively in a 1:11 stretch in the first quarter that put Norwalk up 10-2. Will Gehlhausen connected on a 3-pointer with 24.9 seconds left in the quarter to keep the advantage at eight points (13-5).
Obringer scored the first five points of the second quarter in the first 37 seconds that put the Truckers ahead 18-5. Chapin then made a basket and two free throws around an Obringer putback that gave Norwalk a commanding 24-7 lead with 5:19 left in the half.
Leading 30-16, Obringer then scored twice in the final 39 seconds of the half, including another score down low with just 2.3 seconds left to put the Truckers ahead 33-16 at the break.
“I was very happy with our kids,” Gray said. “This is the type of game where you can lose your focus a little bit. I thought our concentration was good, and for the most part we played really, really well.”
After Lacy’s three-point play began the second half, Haraway put together an 8-0 scoring run in a 2:01 stretch to extend the lead to 44-16. The lead peaked at 46-18 just 33 seconds later on Brown’s lone basket of the game.
Obringer finished with 13 points (5-of-6 shooting), seven rebounds and three steals, while Chapin added 10 points and seven rebounds. Also for Norwalk, Gehlhausen had eight points and four rebounds, while Lacy contributed five points and six rebounds.
Up next for Norwalk is a double non-league weekend with unique circumstances. The Truckers visit Lexington (12-3) on Friday and head to Northwestern (13-4) on Saturday.
The Minutemen won the district a year ago and reached the state semifinals, and are led by Mr. Football winner and Ohio State recruit Cade Stover.
Meanwhile, Norwalk is part of a loaded cluster at the top of the district and is tied with Vermilion (15-2) for the least losses. Lexington, Clear Fork (15-3) and Mansfield Senior (12-3) are right behind.
The district tournament voting and draw will be finalized on Sunday — after the two big road games.
“This is a big one for us,” Gray said. “We’re going to give a good effort Friday, and whatever happens will happen. But very pleased with the kids tonight. We’ll take Monday off and get ready for two very big games next week.”
In the junior varsity game on Saturday, Norwalk picked up a 49-33 win to improve to 10-6. Jad Oglesby had 12 points and four rebounds, while Kyler Kromer added 11 points and five assists. Drew Shope had 10 points, five steals and four rebounds, and Andrew Mozina had eight points and four rebounds.
PORT CLINTON (1-15)
Dylan Simpson 2-2—6; Max Brenner 2-2—6; Cooper Stine 3-0—8; Sammy Diaz 3-0—9; Lucas Kyle 3-0—6; Gavin Preston 1-0—3; Connor Gillum 2-0—4; Elliot Auxter 1-1—4. TOTALS 17-5—46.
Brandon Haraway 7-2—17; Garrett Obringer 5-2—13; Garrett Chapin 3-3—10; Austin Brown 1-0—2; Kyler Lacy 2-1—5; Ryan Sowders 3-0—7; Will Gehlhausen 3-0—8; Ian Minor 1-1—3; Andrew Mozina 1-0—2. TOTALS 26-9—67.
P. Clinton 5 11 13 17 — 46
Norwalk 13 20 22 12 — 67
3-point FGs: (PC) Diaz 3, Stine 2, Preston, Auxter
JV: Norwalk, 49-33