MICHIGANTOWN — Northwestern’s boys basketball team had the upper hand on Clinton Central in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game. The Bulldogs found some consistency to keep pace in the second quarter, but the Tigers persevered to a 59-42 victory.
The Tigers (8-3) jumped to a large lead early, scoring 14 in the game’s first four minutes. The opening quarter closed with the Tigers leading 21-4, with Tayson Parker collecting 13 points.
The Bulldogs (0-9) found more open looks in the second quarter and showed they wouldn’t go down quietly as they hit three 3-pointers and another two baskets near the rim.
“In the first quarter, I thought our ball movement was really good,” said Northwestern coach Jim Gish. “We were operating well against the zone [and] had the ball going in the places we wanted it to go with the right guys touching it in the right spots.”
For the final three quarters, Northwestern’s offensive play was missing the strong and rapid ball movement it had possessed in the first quarter.
“We kind of resorted back to our old ways a little bit,” said Gish. “We were letting the ball stick a little too much [and] we didn’t have the ball movement side to side. We didn’t squeeze the defense in any. It was able to expand the whole time.”
Parker scored a game-high 25 points, Eli Edwards scored 17 and Nathan Bennett had 13. Parker had 10 rebounds and Edwards had eight.
On defense, the Tigers allowed the Bulldogs’ shooters open looks from behind the arc as they hit six 3-point shots over the second and third quarters. Clinton Central’s Ross Cripe owned four of the makes.
“He’s a really good shooter,” said Gish. “With his height, he gets the shot off really quickly.”
Cripe attempted most of his 3-point baskets from well behind the arc, and the Northwestern bench yelled on several occasions, “Shooter, Shooter.” He led Clinton Central with 19 points.
“We missed a couple assignments and he took advantage. That’s something where we need to go back to the film room and fix that,” Gish said.
Despite missing some assignments, Gish felt that the Tigers did a “fairly decent job” of applying ball pressure and making the Bulldogs work off the dribble.
Looking forward, Gish said the first thing up is the Hoosier Conference East Division, and two must-win games, away at Tipton and home against Lewis Cass in the next two weeks after the Tigers’ loss to Hamilton Heights on Friday.
“[Tipton] is an excellent ball club,” said Gish. “They are a really nice team, and they are going to play fast. Then we come back with Cass. … Those are must-wins if we are to have any shot at our division.”
He followed up by saying that the competition of Tipton and Cass will continue prepping them as the season progresses to sectional time.