CHILLICOTHE — When Elijah McCloskey is held to just three points in a ballgame, usually, that spells out trouble for Huntington.
In fact, if you would’ve told Northwest that McCloskey was going to be held under 10 points in Tuesday’s non-league battle, the Mohawks would’ve jumped for joy.
Unfortunately for the Mohawks, however, McCloskey’s teammates Seth Beeler and Nate Snyder were present to pick up his slack, scoring a combined 45 points. That duo’s production was ultimately the source of Northwest’s doom in a 55-40 loss on the road.
“It was good to see,” Huntington coach Eric Snyder said. “We’ve been trying to get other guys to step up. The way things happened, we had to have different guys do that tonight. Seth had a great game, he took charge, and Nate had a nice night, too. Those guys lived in the paint a lot during the second half. It was good to have them step up and get settled back in.”
While Beeler and Snyder took advantage of their scoring opportunities at will, they received them thanks to the relentless defense of Northwest’s Brayden Campbell.
Campbell, a freshman, was relentless in his hounding of McCloskey. The Mohawks, playing a box-and-one, denied Huntington’s star guard at all costs and used Campbell to do so.
Last week, Campbell held Wheelersburg’s Tanner Holden to seven points. After McCloskey scored 44 points in a game last weekend, Campbell didn’t allow him to hit a single field goal.
“He is an outstanding kid, just his attitude and his work ethic,” Northwest coach Jason Smith said of Campbell. “No matter what I tell him, he says, ‘Yessir, whatever you need coach.’ He started out playing freshman ball, moved up to JV and now he’s starting varsity. He just kept working so hard and improving. He guards our opponents’ best player every night and I think he loves that challenge. Such a great leader and a great kid.”
The Mohawks (1-14) will enjoy having Campbell around for the next three years. They won’t, however, have senior Chase McClay joining him. McClay led the team with 14 points and had what Smith calls one of his “best games this season.”
“We hate to lose him after this season,” Smith said. “He had one of his best games this season. He’s a great kid as well. He does whatever you ask of him.”
Tale of the tape
Beeler hit the game’s first field goal, a 3, to give Huntington an early 6-2 lead. Northwest’s Braden Borens answered with a 3 of his own, cutting the lead to 6-5. The Huntsmen then went on a 6-0 run, led by Snyder, before taking a 12-7 advantage into the second quarter.
Throughout the rest of the first half, both teams struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket.
Snyder hit another 3 with 2:33 left, making it 19-9, before his Huntsmen took a 21-11 edge into the break after winning the second quarter by a 9-4 margin.
In the third, Huntington built a 28-13 lead before heading into the final eight minutes up 31-18. The Mohawks then ripped off an 8-1 run, cutting the lead to 32-26, but mental mistakes down the stretch allowed Huntington to answer with a 7-0 run, ultimately pulling away for good.
“We have a hard time scoring for two or three minute periods sometimes,” Smith said. “We haven’t put together 32 good minutes yet this season. But our kids never quit. Our effort is there. Tonight we had our opportunities. But we can’t be ice cold forever. Our shots are eventually going to fall.”
McClay led Northwest with 14 points and eight rebounds while Crabtree added 10 points, four boards and three assists. Borens finished with seven points while Timmy Emmons grabbed seven rebounds.
Beeler paced the Huntsmen (5-12) with 26 points while Snyder followed with 19 of his own. DJ Kinzer ended the evening with seven rebounds and a team-high two assists.
What’s on tap
Things don’t get any easier for Northwest as they prepare for a trip to South Webster Friday.
“[South Webster] came into our place earlier in the year and gave us the hammer,” Smith said. “They’re a great team. Up and down the floor, extremely well coached, a great program … we’ve got our hands full. We’ve got to try to slow them down and value the basketball.”
Northwest: 7-4-7-22 — 40
Huntington: 12-9-10-24 — 55
Northwest: 14-48 FG, 9-13 FT, 3-15 3pt. (McClay 2), 29 rebounds (McClay 8), 16 turnovers, 3 assists (Crabtree 3). Scoring: McClay 14, Crabtree 10, Borens 7, Campbell 5, Emmons 2, Hall 2.
Huntington: 16-42 FG, 20-26 FT, 3-19 3pt. (Snyder 2), 25 rebounds (Kinzer 7), 9 turnovers, 4 assists (Kinzer 2, Fisher 2). Scoring: Beeler 26, Snyder 19, Haubeil 5, McCloskey 3, Kinzer 2.