CLAYTON — Northmont buried four 3-pointers during the first quarter Tuesday night to take a 22-12 lead against Lebanon and went up 27-12 early in the second quarter before the Warriors started to regroup.
Danny Lewis and Miles Johnson both knocked down a pair of treys in the first quarter that saw the Thunderbolts explode out of the gate to take a 16-4 advantage. Zach Huffman, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, kept Lebanon in the game by scoring 10 points in the first quarter and seven in the second.
The Thunderbolts defensive pressure was relentless resulting in a pair of first quarter steals. Lewis, who led Northmont with 27 points, came up with a steal on an inbounds pass underneath the basket for a score to help maintain a nine point lead 33-24. Huffman countered with a basket and a steal that he converted into another basket.
Nick Lang and Nick Pierett each scored five second quarter points and Milo White scored two as the Warriors managed to pull within 38-31 at halftime.
The third quarter saw the Warriors outscore the Thunderbolts 20-13 to tie the game 51-51 entering the fourth quarter. That momentum carried over into the final eight minutes as Lebanon went on to post a 73-65 victory.
Huffman stepped up to score 11 in the fourth quarter to finish the night with a career-high 32 points to lead Lebanon to victory.
“Zach Huffman played a great game scoring over 30 points, the most he has scored this season and maybe the most in his career,” said Lebanon coach Nathan Chivington. “He was a good leader tonight. We also had some guys step up for us. It took us a little bit of time to take care of the pressure Northmont was throwing our way, but we got settled in and started making much better decisions and taking better care of the basketball and I thought our defense locked in much better in the second half. I thought we gave them too many open looks in the first half and Northmont started playing with confidence. When a team is shooting with confidence any team can be dangerous.”
With the game tied entering the fourth quarter the Thunderbolts appeared ready to reestablish control of the game. Lewis came up with a steal and Justin Golson scored and drew a foul from White. He buried the bonus shot for a 54-51 advantage. Lewis came up with another steal underneath the hoop and scored to boost the lead to 56-51. Lewis later drew a foul, sank one of two free throws and scored another bucket to give Northmont a 59-53 lead, but after that the momentum began to change.
A basket by Zach Weber and back-to-back buckets by Huffman tied the game 59-59. After Lebanon got called for traveling Lewis put Northmont up by two but the Warriors went on a 7-0 run to take a 68-61 lead with 1:01 remaining.
With 38 seconds left Patrick Ivory buried a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 69-65, but those were the last points Northmont could muster. Pierett sank a pair of free throws and Huffman scored inside as Lebanon secured the eight point win.
“We made a couple of turnovers late that turned into easy buckets for them,” said Northmont coach Shane Kincer. “We played 28 of 32 minutes extremely hard and those four minutes were crucial. We gave up three offensive rebounds on free throws that turned into six points for them and two turnovers late in the fourth quarter turned into four more points and that is a ten point swing very quickly.”
The rebounds were fairly even with Lebanon snaring 32 to Northmont’s 31. The Bolts had 10 steals to Lebanon’s nine and Northmont committed 11 turnovers compared to 15 by the Warriors, but the pair of turnovers the Thunderbolts committed late in the game proved costly.
Overall Northmont competed well and caught Lebanon flat footed early. Kincer was happy with his team’s aggressiveness and how well they competed.
“I told the kids that I felt we played hard and competed hard, but until we do every detail of the game correctly you are going to end up with the same outcome,” Kincer added. “Our goal was to play 32 minutes at maximum effort and I felt like we played 28 at maximum effort. When you don’t play the full game you are going to end up with a bad result. We started out hot as could be, took a seven point lead at halftime but they chipped away and won the third quarter by seven and won the fourth quarter by eight. We couldn’t get anything to fall late in the game.”
LEB 12 31 51 73 – 73
NMT 22 38 51 65 – 65
Lebanon: Milo White 4-0-8, Sammy Stotts 3-4-12, Nick Lang 2-0-5, Zach Weber 1-0-2, Zach Huffman 14-1-32, Alex Martin 2-0-4, Nick Pierett 2-5-10. Totals: 28-10-73.
Northmont: Miles Johnson 3-0-9, Danny Lewis 11-2-27, Di’talian Rayford 2-2-6, Patrick Ivory 4-2-13, Justin Golson 3-3-9, Jordan Smith 1-0-2. Totals: 24-9-65.
3-point goals: Lebanon 7 (Huffman 3, Stotts 2, Lang, Pierett); Northmont 8 (M. Johnson 3, Lewis 3, Ivory 2).
Records: Lebanon 8-10 (5-4), Northmont 5-12 (1-8).
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind