And while things were a bit up and down from there, on this night, a fast start proved to be the difference for the Norwalk boys basketball team.
A couple of days removed from losing a 55-48 lead in the final 1:05 of a 57-55 loss at Shelby on Tuesday, the Truckers opened Friday’s SBC Lake Division opener against Perkins by scoring the game’s first 11 points in a 5:02 span.
The Pirates could only cut the deficit to five points the rest of the way, as Norwalk played ahead from start to finish in the 52-35 win to improve to 2-1 overall (1-0 Lake).
“These kids are trying to do what we want them to do,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said. “We have a lot of returning lettermen, but we have a player like Will (Gehlhausen) who is playing point for the first time — and it changes everything.
“When we get some people going, it’s going to bring a spark to our team,” he added. “But it was nice to see us come out and establish ourselves right away.”
Garrett Obringer connected on a right corner 3-pointer, and Garrett Chapin scored a little more than a minute later to put the Truckers up by two possessions for good less than two minutes into the game. When Ryan Sowders and Andrew Mozina dropped in back-to-back 3-pointers, Norwalk was off and rolling to an 11-0 lead with points from four different players at the 2:58 mark of the opening quarter.
The Pirates (1-3, 1-1) cut the deficit to 13-5 after one quarter, and got the final five points of the first half on a 3 by Dyson Leffler and a driving basket from Zach Voight just before the halftime buzzer.
That brought Perkins to within 21-16, and it was again a five-point deficit (24-19) with 6:44 left in the third after Chapin and Voight traded 3-pointers.
But from there, Norwalk took control. Obringer scored inside, then Chapin added a pair of free throws. After a Voight basket, Gehlhausen hit his only basket for three points, and Chapin added another free throw to put the Truckers up 32-21 with 2:24 left in the third.
The Pirates trailed 40-32 after Sam Siegel scored with 6:24 left, but Norwalk closed the game out on a 12-3 scoring run to win comfortably.
“We’re missing a little bit of cohesion offensively,” Gray said of his team, which shot 18-of-36 from the floor and 11-of-15 at the foul line. “We’re still a work of progress and it’s only been three games. For the last three years, it’s been all quick hitters offensively.
“Now, we’re trying to get more people involved and get more touches, and it’s going to take time,” he added. “But we have the ability to be a very good offensive team — and we will be before this season over.”
Chapin finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting to pace the Truckers. He’s had two double-doubles and is two rebounds shy of three double-doubles to begin the season.
Mozina added nine points and three steals, while Obringer also had nine points.
“Mozina had a great game,” Gray said. “He played tonight like he did in the summer. I think up until tonight he had been a little hesitant, but he has a great work ethic and was just really good for us tonight — and we needed him to be.
“Ryan was good again on defense, and Chapin played a very strong second half,” he added. “Obringer had a little bit of foul trouble but was still solid. But I love this team … I think it’s going to be fun to watch them grow.”
In the junior varsity game, the Truckers got a thrilling 40-38 win when Ashton Coe hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer with his team down 38-37. Caleb Sommers had 13 points, four rebounds and four assists for the JV Truckers (2-1), while Drew Shope added a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Norwalk will play its third game this week when it hosts Keystone tonight in a non-league matchup.
PERKINS (1-3, 1-1)
Sam Siegel 5-5—16; Zach Voight 4-0—9; Sam Oddo 1-0—2; Drake Venerucci 1-0—3; Dyson Leffler 1-0—3; Ryan Butler 1-0—2. TOTALS 13-5—35.
NORWALK (2-1, 1-0)
Garrett Chapin 7-5—20; Andrew Mozina 3-2—9; Will Gehlhausen 1-0—3; Garrett Obringer 3-2—-9; Ryan Sowders 2-0—5; Demarjae Williams 1-0—2; Kyler Lacy 1-0—2; Jad Oglesby 0-2—2. TOTALS 18-11—52.
Perkins 5 11 12 7 — 35
Norwalk 13 8 15 16 — 52
3-point FGs: (P) Siegel, Voight, Venerucci, Leffler; (N) Chapin, Obringer, Gehlhausen, Sowders, Mozina.
JV: Norwalk, 40-38.