LEBANON — Their slogan is, “Fear the Spear” but the Lebanon Warriors should have feared the Spears, as in Arius Spears. The Northmont senior buried a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and a second trey at the five minute mark to help the Thunderbolts open a 14 point lead.
Asked when Spears became a three-point threat, Northmont Coach Collin Abels pointed out that Spears worked hard during the off-season to improve his game.
“He has worked pretty hard on that in the off-season,” Abels said. “I just kind of talked about that after the game. Basketball, like any sport, one night you can look like a million dollars and the next night you just don’t have that flow and that rhythm. He also played a great game defensively. In game one I know he wasn’t too happy with his offensive rhythm, but tonight her hit two huge threes in the second half and it allowed us to create some separation and that’s what seniors do. They continually trust themselves and believe in what they do. As a coach, you hope your seniors make the plays.”
Spears scored eight fourth quarter points to finish with 15 and Vinson Walker scored 18 while Rodney Richardson had 11 to power the Thunderbolts to a 71-50 victory Friday at Lebanon. With the win Northmont improves to 2-0 and 1-0 in National West division play while Lebanon falls to 1-1 and 0-1 in division play.
Northmont got off to a slow start, looking tentative on offense in the first half, trailing by as many as eight points before going on an 8-0 run to close the first quarter to make it 12-12. Walker scored six points in the second quarter, Maurice Beavers had four including a trey and Spears had four as Northmont struggled to keep pace with a confident Lebanon team that clung to a 28-27 lead at the half.
DaLonte Capers scored back-to-back baskets to open the third quarter and Walker scored inside to give the Thunderbolts a 33-30 lead, and from that point on Northmont gradually began to pull away.
“In the first half Walker was struggling to get his feet underneath of him, but in the second half he made it his playground for a while,” Abels noted. “Any time you can play through the post like that it just opens up so many other things.”
Leading 47-42 after three quarters of play, Spears’ eight fourth quarter points combined with six by Rodney Richardson and six by Jabari Perkins enabled the Thunderbolts to put the game away to post a 21 point victory. Northmont’s quickness took over in the final period. Perkins came up with two steals for baskets, one that led to a basket by Richardson and another in the Lebanon backcourt that he immediately scored on to give the Thunderbolts a 67-46 lead with 1:40 remaining.
“We talked about our quickness at halftime,” Abels added. “With our depth and the way that we play, you hope that the wear down factor happens, and I think tonight it did. We were able to wear them down and create a lead to separate ourselves from them a little bit, and once we did we just kind of fed off that emotion. It was nice to see because Lebanon gave us a strong test. They have a nice ball club and they’ve got gutty players and it was good to see our guys rise to the challenge and put them away in the second half.”
Senior Parker Smith led Lebanon with 21 points and junior point guard Drew Sekerak had 11, but was limited to only one point in the fourth quarter.
Northmont will be put to another test Tuesday when the Thunderbolts travel to Springboro to face the 3-0 Panthers.
NMT 12 27 47 71 – 71
LEB 12 28 42 50 – 50
Northmont: Anthony Dorsey 2, Jabari Perkins 9, Rodney Richardson 11, Christian Wilson 4, Maurice Beavers 8, Vinson Walker 18, Arius Spears 15, DaLonte Capers 4. Totals: 31-5-71.
Lebanon: Dakota Allen 9, Sammy Stotts 2, Drew Sekerak 11, Zach Huffman 2, Sam Abbott 3, Parker Smith 21, Bo Wilson 2. Totals: 21-6-50.
3-point baskets: Northmont 4 (Spears 2, Perkins, Beavers); Lebanon 2 (Allen, Abbott).
Records: Northmont 2-0 (1-0), Lebanon 1-1 (0-1).
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind