OAK HILL — Connor Lintz got the pre-Christmas party started on Tuesday night, then fellow juniors Jay Jenkins and Tanner Bolin —and even freshman Logan Wolfenbarker —took over the sleigh reigns from there.
Yes, for the young yet talented Northwest Mohawks, if they want to stake some claim to the coveted Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball championship, then they needed Tuesday’s tilt at Oak Hill to go their way —and did it ever.
The Mohawks marked the second consecutive SOC II team to hold the Oaks to under 40 points, as Northwest trailed for a mere 10 first-quarter seconds —and ballooned its advantage to as large as 25 midway through the fourth quarter, all encompassing for a 62-39 runaway win inside Oak Hill’s “Nuthouse”.
That’s right, it was Northwest all the time Tuesday night —trailing only 2-0 and tied only once at 7-7.
The Mohawks were behind for only 10 tics in the lidlifting minute, as that 7-7 tie stood for only 37 seconds.
They bookended cantos by Lintz meshing 5-of-8 free throws, sandwiched around two freebies apiece by Jenkins in the third and Wolfenbarker in the fourth.
Northwest netted seven three-point goals in between —two by Jenkins, two by Bolin, two by Caleb Lewis in each of the middle two stanzas, and finally one by Wolfenbarker, followed by his deuce that turned the Mohawks’ lead to 20 (53-33).
With four minutes and 48 seconds remaining, the Mohawks made it a 60-35 lead for their largest.
Northwest head coach Rick Scarberry said it was an overall complete performance from his Mohawks, which are finally getting over a flu bug to begin the year —along with some of those nagging injuries incurred during fall sports seasons.
“I thought our defensive intensity was excellent, and kids were on the floor and running the floor. Getting out to that first-quarter lead was big. We want to transition every chance we get to get some easy points if we can get them,” said Scarberry. “We let them back in it in the second quarter, but we jumped back up 12 or 13 or 14 there in the third, so here we were again. We’ve played hard and had leads on teams all year, but then we let them back in. This time, we reacted well and got some buckets and got them in a little bit of foul trouble. I thought our intensity throughout the whole game was daggone good.”
It had to be, though.
Simply put, aside from undefeated Minford (6-0, 5-0 SOC II) maintaining a game-and-a-half lead over Wheelersburg (5-1, 3-1 SOC II) for the SOC II’s top spot, there is a logjam of two-loss and three-loss league teams —of which both Northwest and Oak Hill are part of.
The win raised the Mohawks’ record to 5-2 and 3-2, as they took a half-game lead over 2-2 Valley and 2-2 Eastern for third —thanks to Eastern upstaging within the past four days both Wheelersburg (62-59) and Valley (96-92 in double overtime) at home.
For Oak Hill, it fell to 2-4 and 1-3 —as the Oaks, South Webster and West all have three league defeats.
Last Friday night, it was West which zoned the Oaks out to 37 points —as the Senators shot the ball well, as did Northwest on Tuesday.
The six-foot two-inch Lintz, as part of a team-high 21 points, poured in 15 in the opening quarter —including not one, not two, but count ‘em three three-point plays.
He ended up with eight field goals, and had a chance at another old-fashioned three-point play in the fourth.
Combine Lintz’s three three-point plays, and the Mohawks’ seven trifectas, that’s 10 trips down the floor in which Northwest amounted 30 markers.
But Lintz was, and is, the catalyst for the Mohawks.
“I thought Connor (Lintz) had another gear to him,” said Scarberry, simply.
Oak Hill head coach Heath McKinniss concurred.
“Lintz just does a good job of doing what he does,” he said. “He is really athletic, finds way to score and is physical when he plays. He just did what he does, and he did it very well. And we didn’t do very much to be able to stop him. They were a whole lot tougher than we were. Then we got off to another rough start, we didn’t get some shots that we wanted and missed some free throws early on. It’s really hard when you have to dig yourself out of holes.”
The Oaks actually, behind senior Kade Kinzel’s 16 first-half points which included his two three-pointers, mounted a second-quarter comeback bid —slicing the deficit from as large as 25-11 with 10 unanswered.
Northwest held a 29-22 halftime lead, but then doubled up the Oaks 33-17 for the second 16 minutes —including a critical 19-8 edge in the third.
Treys by Lewis, Jenkins and Bolin —and deuces by Jenkins, Bolin, Wolfenbarker and Lintz — stretched the Northwest lead to as much as 19 points (47-28), with nine minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the game.
Jenkins’ two tosses on an Oak Hill technical foul officially made it 47-28, and the Oaks got no closer than 48-33.
Jenkins and Wolfenbarker both followed Lintz, landing 14 and 13 points respectively on five field goals apiece.
“We’ve been after Jay (Jenkins) to shoot more, and Tanner (Bolin) has been shooting well. Jay, Tanner and Caleb Lewis all made two threes tonight,” said Scarberry. “We got killed with the flu right before the season started, but I think we’re finally getting healthy to where we can play more of a complete game. We score 62, that’s a lot for us. We’ve been holding teams to the high 30s or low 40s, so that’s not bad on the road.”
Kinzel, on seven total baskets and 6-of-8 foul shots, was the only Oak to score more than six —as he canned a game-high 22.
But the Mohawks —by committee —made successful their road show on Tuesday night, and remain right in the thick of the league championship chase.
“I was pretty pleased with our overall performance. I told the guys that three losses might win this thing or tie it. We want to stay within the top four teams, and have maybe a choice as to who wins this,” said Scarberry. “It may not be us, but maybe we can dictate who is going to.”
* * *
Northwest 20 9 19 14 —62
Oak Hill 11 11 8 9—39
NORTHWEST 62 (5-2, 3-2 SOC II)
Connor Lintz 8 5-8 21, Logan Shepherd 0 0-0 0, Caleb Lewis 2 0-0 6, Zane Fry 0 0-0 0, Jay Jenkins 5 2-3 14, Tanner Bolin 3 0-0 8, Kory Butler 0 0-0 0, Logan Wolfenbarker 5 2-2 13, Alex Baer 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 23 9-13 62; Three-point field goals: 7 (Caleb Lewis, Jay Jenkins and Tanner Bolin 2 apiece, Logan Wolfenbarker 1)
OAK HILL 39 (2-4, 1-3 SOC II)
Garrett McKinniss 0 0-0 0, Andy Meldick 0 0-0 0, A.J. Harrison 2 0-2 5, Kade Kinzel 7 6-8 22, Mason Davis 0 0-0 0, Aidan Hall 1 0-3 2, Gavin Howell 1 0-0 2, Joseph Anteby 0 0-0 0, Rylan Sams 0 2-4 2, Evan Fisher 3 0-0 6; TOTALS 14 8-17 39; Three-point field goals: 3 (Kade Kinzel 2, A.J. Harrison 1)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved