But in what’s become a season-long theme, the Norwalk boys basketball team played another defensive gem. This time, the Truckers put the clamps down on host Northwestern, 55-50, in Saturday’s non-league win over the Wayne County Athletic League champions.
Norwalk improved to 16-2 overall with the win, and will take a 14-game winning streak into Tuesday’s stern home test from Division III power Oregon Cardinal Stritch (15-3).
The Huskies play a quick tempo offense that is heavy on 3-point shooting. They’ve had multiple games with double-digit makes from beyond the arc. But on Saturday, Norwalk contested nearly every Northwestern attempt, as the Huskies were just 5-of-24 (20 percent) from the three-point line.
Two of those 3-pointers came in the opening 25 seconds and in the closing 20 seconds. By reaching 50 points with 18.9 seconds left, Northwestern (15-5) is just the fifth team in 18 games to reach the half-century mark against the Truckers, who allow 47.7 points per game overall.
“We didn’t play well in the first half — but they had 23 points and were up five points,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said of his team’s 28-23 lead at the break. “Tonight, a lot of things effected us. Friday (46-45 win at Lexington) was a really big win and I think we were still celebrating a little bit. But the bottom line is we won. Tonight it was ugly, but again, we found a way to win.”
Norwalk seized control in the third quarter, as Brandon Haraway scored 28 seconds in, then found Garrett Obringer wide open for another basket and a 32-23 lead just 1:09 into the second half.
The Huskies pulled within 38-34 and 44-40 in the quarter, but Norwalk immediately had an answer both times. Garrett Chapin scored on back-to-back short jumpers to thwart the first Husky run, then Ryan Sowders made a 3-pointer less than 20 seconds after Northwestern had to keep the Truckers up 47-40.
Leading 49-40 entering the final eight minutes, Obringer split a pair of free throws and Chapin scored again to put the Truckers up 52-40 with 6:52 left.
“For whatever reason we weren’t very organized offensively at any point,” Gray said. “But in the third quarter, we got Chapin to the high post and he knocked down a couple jumpers. After we had our meeting at halftime, I told the kids to take a deep breath. We relaxed and played the way we were capable.”
Haraway scored with 2:31 left to put Norwalk up 54-44, but like the night before at Lexington, the final two minutes weren’t without drama.
Norwalk committed 21 turnovers in the game, including late when the Huskies scored six straight points and had the ball down 54-50. Northwestern missed its next shot attempt, then fouled Chapin, who split a pair for the final margin.
“They threw in a couple late shots, but in the fourth quarter, it felt like the game was never in doubt,” Gray said. “It’s our organization and how we react to pressure. When there is pressure on us, we have to go back to what we do.
“We didn’t get to our correct spots, and that was a big problem,” he added. “Organization was our biggest problem tonight. I thought we fought through a lot of different things, so I was very pleased to get the win.”
Haraway had another solid effort with 19 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Obringer added 13 points and seven rebounds, with Chapin contributing nine points and seven rebounds.
As for Tuesday’s game with the potent Cardinals, Gray said the pressure is off. Stritch averages 68.8 points per game, and have a pair of 1,000-point scorers in Jordan Burton and Joey Holifield, the latter who has six Div. I scholarship offers.
“They are something else. If people in Huron County want to see two pretty good teams go at it, come out and watch this one,” Gray said. “They have two Division I college recruits, one offered by many of the MAC schools.
“For the past two or three weeks, we’ve had something to play for,” he added. “But Tuesday — we’re going to play hard, but it’s for fun. It’s to see where we are in the SBC or in the district, but just in general.”
Norwalk’s junior varsity team improved to 11-7 on Saturday with a 45-35 win. Daniel Traczek led the JV Truckers with 13 points, while Jad Oglesby added six points, four rebounds and three assists. Kyler Kromer and Justin Sommers each added six points.
Brandon Haraway 7-4—19; Garrett Chapin 3-3—9; Garrett Obringer 6-1—13; Kyler Lacy 1-0—2; Ryan Sowders 2-0—5; Will Gehlhausen 2-0—5; Ian Minor 1-0—2. TOTALS 22-8—55.
Max Carlson 1-2—4; Cal Rhamy 1-1—3; Trevor Ferriman 3-2—9; Will Schaad 2-3—9; JJ Cline 2-1—5; Kaden Mellott 8-2—20. TOTALS 15-11—50.
Norwalk 13 15 21 6 — 55
Northwestern 14 9 17 10 — 50
3-point FGs: (N) Haraway, Sowders, Gehlhausen; (NW) Mellott 2, Schaad 2, Ferriman
JV: Norwalk, 45-35