MCDERMOTT - His name is Hank - and it may be commonplace over the next two years in the SOC II.
Just a sophomore, Northwest's Hank Leslie is playing more like an upperclassman to open the 2007 season. That trend continued Friday night, as Leslie scored a team-high 21 points and added seven rebounds as the Mohawks won their first game of the year, a 69-59 victory over Portsmouth in its home opener.
Leslie's teammate and fellow sophomore Kreig Crabtree poured in 15 points to help pace Northwest.
“Hank has been giving us good inside play,” said Mohawks coach Rick Scarberry. “He is athletic in there, he can go inside-out, and Kreig has been giving us that outside shooting we have been looking for, along with Stefan Spriggs. I just felt it was a great team effort tonight.”
Spriggs had 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals, and Justin Malone added 11 points and five rebounds as Northwest put four players in double figures. The win spoiled the performance of Portsmouth's Corey Reeves, who scored a game-high 29 points, 13 coming in the first quarter.
“Malone has to expend a lot of energy on the defensive end,” said Scarberry. “On the offensive end, he suffers because of fatigue. He plays the whole game, but tonight, he stepped it up and played like a senior ought to play.”
With Reeves leading the way, the Trojans would jump out to a 21-15 lead after the first quarter. Northwest would come back to take the lead at halftime, and would hold on to the lead for the rest of the game, except for two ties in the third quarter.
“Corey came ready to play tonight,” said Portsmouth coach Josh Shoemaker. “We have got to put together four quarters. Our kids have got to come more focused and work a little harder on the defensive end.”
With a considerable size advantage, the Trojans' duo of Anthony Williams and Nate Cadogan would grab 15 and nine rebounds, respectively. However, the Mohawks' defense would limit them to just 12 total points on the evening.
“We have got to get them the ball more on offense,” said Shoemaker. “It all comes down to the defensive end. If we don't get stops, we are not going to win many ball games.”
Portsmouth (1-1) will look to get back on the winning side when the team plays host to Chesapeake tonight, the team's home opener.
For Scarberry, the key to his team's victory was its shooting from the free throw line. Scarberry said his team was 25 of 29 from the line.
“When you get a 10-point lead, they have to foul and you are making free-throws,” said Scarberry. “That the ball game, because teams can't catch up as long as you are making your shots.”
Ronnie Strickland added six rebounds and two steals, and Chase Hall had three steals of his own. Northwest (1-2) plays host to Notre Dame on Tuesday.
JOSH HICKLE can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 241.
Portsmouth 21 5 11 22 - 59
Northwest 15 13 15 26 - 69
Portsmouth - Reeves 10 8 29, Johnson 4 0 9, Williams 3 2 8, Cadogan 2 0 4, Bendolph 1 1 3, Allison 1 0 2, Link 1 0 2. Totals 22 11 59.
Northwest - Leslie 7 7 21, Crabtree 4 5 15, Spriggs 3 8 14, Malone 3 5 11, Strickland 3 0 6, Hall 1 0 2. Totals 21 25 69.
3-pointers - Portsmouth 2 (Reeves, Johnson), Northwest 2 (Crabtree 2).
Records - Portsmouth 1-1, Northwest 1-2.