CLAYTON — After a disastrous first quarter when Northmont found itself trailing visiting Trotwood-Madison 17-0 the Thunderbolts regrouped and slowly clawed their way back into the game.
Northmont cut the Rams lead to one point by the end of the third quarter but couldn’t catch the break it needed as Trotwood-Madison escaped with a hard-fought 76-73 victory.
The Thunderbolts dug themselves a huge hole early by not following the game plan. After a timeout with 3:55 left in the first quarter Jabari Perkins scored Northmont’s first points of the evening.
“That first three minutes we kind of dug ourselves a hole,” said Northmont Coach Collin Abels. “I called a timeout and I said, ‘Guys… we haven’t done what the game plan told us to do. Do what the game plan tells you to do and let’s see what happens.’ From that point forward we outscored them by 14 points.”
The game plan called for the Bolts to keep the ball in the middle of the floor offensively to try to prevent the Rams’ traps and to create good passing angles and not settle for jump shots and attack the hoop to see if Northmont could get Trotwood into foul trouble. Eventually Northmont managed to foul out the Rams’ two best players, Myles Belyeu (game-high 30 points) and Amari Davis (16 points).
“Defensively I told the guys that every time they take a jump shot that is a win for us, because they are a team that lives in the paint and they eat in the paint,” Abels said. “The only thing that I am disappointed in tonight is the final score. I wanted so bad for them to win. I thought they played hard enough to win. They showed a tremendous amount of courage in the way they came out and battled. You never want to lose, but when you have kids that fight like that and compete and play like that you can’t be entirely disappointed. I thought we grew as a basketball team tonight.”
Trailing 24-11 at the end of the first quarter Northmont got baskets by freshman Prophet Johnson, Jabari Perkins and Donavin Wallace. Cameron Rucker buried a 3-pointer and had five second quarter points and center Ryan Foy got seven points inside as the Thunderbolts cut Trotwood’s lead to 40-34 at the half.
Trailing by one entering the final period Northmont kept the heat on and trailed by two to four points but managed to close the gap to a single point three different times. With 2:02 remaining Myles Belyeu fouled out to send Jamaal Linson to the line. Linson sank both free throws to make it a 65-64 ballgame. After a pair of Trotwood free throws Ryan Foy scored inside to make it 67-66. Foy fouled out on the next play and Amari Davis sank one of two free throws to give the Rams a 68-66 lead.
Northmont committed a critical turnover on its next possession and Hezikiah Shaw scored an uncontested layup to put the Rams up by four. In the final 45 seconds Northmont went 5-7 at the foul line while Trotwood went 6-6 to seal the victory.
T-M 24 40 56 76 – 76
NMT 11 34 55 73 – 73
Trotwood: Amari Davis 4-8-16, Sammy Anderson 2-1-6, Myles Belyeu 9-12-30, Hezikiah Shaw 2-1-5, Keontae Huguely 0-2-2, Carl Blanton 1-2-4, Justin Stephens 4-5-13. Totals: 22-31-76.
Northmont: Dawson Walker 1-0-2, Jabari Perkins 7-1-16, Donavin Wallace 3-2-8, Cameron Rucker 3-2-9, Jamaal Linson 2-12-16, Kameron Mathis 1-0-2, Ryan Foy 4-3-11, Danny Lewis 0-7-7, Prophet Johnson 1-0-2. Totals: 22-27-73.
3-point goals: Trotwood 1 (Anderson); Northmont 2 (Perkins, Rucker).
Records: Trotwood 10-3, Northmont 4-8.
JV Score: In overtime Trotwood 62 Northmont 55.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@AimMediaMidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind