McDERMOTT — Who doesn’t love free basketball?
Thirty-two minutes wasn’t enough time to figure out a winner in Northwest’s home opener versus Eastern in Southern Ohio Conference Division II play — and neither was 36.
In fact, the Mohawks and Eagles needed two defense-filled overtime periods to settle their score.
Northwest eventually won 50-47 in double overtime, improving its record to 2-0 (1-0 SOC I) — despite restarting its regular practice just Friday (Dec. 4) after a two-week COVID-19 halt.
The Mohawks edged the Eagles without freshman guard Connor Lintz for the final 5:15 of the game after Lintz picked up his fifth foul in the first overtime period — earning coach Rick Scarberry’s first win on the Mohawks’ home court since his first Northwest stint concluded after the 2014-15 season.
Lintz is averaging 18.5 points per game through his first two career games — and much of the Northwest offense is predicated on his presence.
But rather than panic given the situation, the Mohawks rose to the occasion and finished off the game with their defense.
“We went two straight weeks, 14 days with no practice. Practice Friday, play a pretty good Huntington Ross team and defensively did well, defensively played well again tonight,” Scarberry said, after the win. “Fouled a little bit much, but we’ve not had time to practice or prepare for some of the situations we ran into tonight. I thought our kids stepped up and took care of business when we needed it. Connor’s (Lintz) a big part of our offense, so when he went out I thought, ‘Where are we gonna go?’. We were pleased with how they responded and pleased to get the win.”
Arguably the biggest shot of the game came with 2:21 left in the second overtime — when Mohawks senior and all-Ohio cross country runner Landen Smith nailed a three-point attempt.
Smith’s make was his third field goal, but was also the first deep-ball Northwest connected on over the course of the contest.
Better late than never, Smith’s three gave the Mohawks a 49-44 lead — one in which they wouldn’t look back from.
Senior big man Brycen Carver had a team-high 20 for Northwest on nine made field goals — and grabbed double-digits in boards as part of Northwest’s 28-19 rebounding advantage.
Twelve of Carver’s 20 points came in the second half or overtime — as he and Lintz were a big part of Northwest’s best run of the game, outscoring Eastern 12-4 in the third period and holding the Eagles scoreless for the first six minutes of the second half.
“We did a good job of being out on shooters,” Scarberry said. “We lost (Neil) Leist a little bit, but he’s a good player and I had a couple of freshmen guarding him. That was huge, our defense was really good during that stretch.”
Eastern sophomore Neil Leist scored 23 of his team’s 47, including 16 in the fourth quarter and subsequent overtimes.
While the majority of Eastern’s points from the field came from behind the arc, Northwest’s was quite the opposite, which worked significantly in its favor.
The Mohawks connected on 22 field goals for the game — 21 of which were of the two-point variety.
“We knew Leist had the potential to do what he did, hit some tough shots. Our gameplan was to come out and play good, solid basketball,” Scarberry said. “Our strength is in the post sometimes, moving the basketball and taking what the defense gives to us.”
Although the long layoff from games and quick restart to its regular routine hampered the start of the season, Northwest is back and playing — and has yet another SOC II game to prepare for in hopes of keeping up the unbeaten start.
The Mohawks will travel to Lucasville on Friday (Dec. 11) for their league road opener against Valley and head coach Norm Persin — a good measuring stick to see where the Mohawks might stand among the top teams in the SOC II.
The Indians nearly knocked off two-time defending league champ Wheelersburg on its home court on Tuesday, falling by a five-point (65-60) margin.
Persin and Scarberry have quite a coaching history, more diverse than some.
The two area coaching legends faced off for several years as coaches of Chesapeake and Rock Hill respectively, and for nine of Scarberry’s 11 years during his first tenure when Persin was the coach at Oak Hill.
Both are back and will square off on Friday night — seeking to gain a leg up on this year’s SOC II race.
“I about blacked out a couple times, I got a little dizzy and the superintendent had to tell me to settle down,” Scarberry joked about his return. “But I get into it, I love it and I’m passionate about it. The kids are going to play like I coach, it’s how I played in college and how I coach. But it feels good to be back.”
Eastern 7 14 4 17 2 3 — 47
Northwest 8 12 12 10 2 6 — 50
EASTERN 47 (0-3)
Chase Carter 1 2-4 4, Abe McBee 0 1-4 1, Dillion Mattox 5 2-4 12, Trenten Brown 0 0-0 0, Isaac Richardson 0 0-0 0, Neil Leist 5 8-12 23, Brennen Slusher 2 0-0 5, Jake Tribby 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 14 13-24 47; Three-point field goals: 6 (Neil Leist 5, Brennen Slusher 1)
NORTHWEST 50 (2-0)
Connor Lintz 8 1-2 17, Kyle Butler 0 1-4 1, Landen Smith 3 0-0 7, Jay Jenkins 0 0-0 0, Brayden Campbell 2 1-2 5, Tanner Bolin 0 0-0 0, Brycen Carver 9 2-2 20, Austin Newman 0 0-0 0, Caleb Scoggins 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 22 5-10 50; Three-point field goals: 1 (Landen Smith 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved