By MARK SALUKE Kokomo Tribune
---- — An 0-3 start to the season seems to be slowly fading into the review mirror for Northwestern’s boys basketball team.
The Tigers closed out 2013 with a 65-39 Mid-Indiana Conference blowout over visiting Maconaquah on Friday night, moving to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in loop play heading into the holiday break.
“I’m just really proud of the kids and the way they came out and produced,” Northwestern coach Jim Gish said. “We were just locked in, and the guys really channeled themselves. The boys were as focused as I’ve seen a lot of kids in a lot of years.”
Gish got a solid, focused effort from every player who hit the floor as it was the bench that boosted the Tigers in a big way.
With 2:00 to play in the first quarter, Northwestern leading scorer Graham Ortmann, who entered Friday averaging 20.8 points per game, went to the bench with his third foul. On the following play, Kyle Dinn gave the Braves their biggest lead of the night at 9-3. The Tigers’ bench then took over the scoreboard, stringing together a 7-0 run to close out the first quarter with a 10-9 edge and accounting for a 14-2 run overall that left Mac (2-2, 0-1) staring at a 17-11 deficit with 6:28 to go in the half.
“It was unbelievable,” Gish said. “From a coach’s perspective, I’d say it’s about as ideal as you get, where you go grab a kid and they produce.”
Robert Olsen started the reserves’ scoring spree with a bucket, Logan Macaluso followed with a hoop, and Tyler Hudson closed out the first frame with a free throw and a basket to put Northwestern up by a point.
Olsen added another freebie while Riley Hudson netted six points at the start of the second quarter to give Northwestern all the momentum it needed. Logan Galbraith, who paced the Tigers with 12 points, scored four straight to push the lead to double digits, 26-15 midway through the quarter and overall, the Tigers outscored the Braves 26-12 in the period to go up 36-21 at the half.
“It’s one thing to get two or three kids really channeled in to what you want to do, but it’s different to have every guy channeled in on what you want to do,” Gish said. “It was amazing to me that we had 12 of the 13 guys who played score.”
Northwestern got 25 points from its bench.
“You’ve got to hand it to coach Gish, Northwestern came out and did an outstanding job of pushing us around. We just didn’t push back,” Braves coach Andy Steele said. “I thought we played a good third quarter. At one point, we cut it to eight but it’s like I told the guys, then one thing goes wrong and we hang our heads and they pull away again. We can’t have that mindset and expect to win games.”
Trailing 39-23 less than a minute into the second half, Mac strung together an 8-0 run to make it a 39-31 game with 4:55 showing. Adam Harts had a pair of scores sandwiched around a Dinn basket and Nick Love swished a pair of freebies to account for the run, but Northwestern then put together a 14-0 spurt to close the third quarter and open the fourth.
Ortmann scored five straight points, nailing a trey and adding a pair of free throws, to close out the run and put the Tigers up by 22, 53-31, with 6:55 showing on the game clock. Northwestern led by 20-plus points the rest of the way.
Blaine Brutus scored nine points for the Tigers. Keagan Downey scored eight, while Ortmann and Riley Hudson finished with seven apiece. Dinn led the way for Mac with ten points.