McDERMOTT — If playing your best basketball come tournament time is a goal, the Northwest Mohawks have seemingly achieved it.
Yes, it’s one result.
But in Friday night’s 68-33 win over visiting South Webster, the Mohawks looked — and felt — like a team ready for the postseason.
Their 68 points scored are indeed a season-high, occurring in their last game of the regular season and subsequent Southern Ohio Conference Division II slate.
In fact, their 43 points scored in the second half is more than they’ve scored in some games during the regular season.
Northwest coach Rick Scarberry said his team’s ability to hit outside shots in Friday’s win was a big cause for its offensive explosion in the 35-point victory.
“Our defense has been great all year. Since (Jay) Jenkins came into the starting lineup, he’s been able to defend some of the better scorers in the league pretty well — he’ll hound you,” Scarberry said. “Defense has been good all year, our problem has been we can’t score. Missed some in there tonight, but we hit outside shots tonight. That opened up the penetration and some inside stuff in the second half.”
Said explosion was spearheaded by freshman Tanner Bolin, who recently made the move up into the Mohawks’ starting lineup.
As one of three Northwest freshmen in their starting rotation, Bolin made the most of Friday’s opportunity — pitching in a career-high 20 points on seven made field goals (four threes) and a pair of free throws.
Bolin, Connor Lintz and Jay Jenkins — that trio of youngsters — combined for 41 of Northwest’s 68 on the offensive end, but it was Bolin’s night that helped guide them there.
“He’s played some varsity on and off all year, played some JV out of necessity, where we’ve had kids hurt or away,” Scarberry said, of Bolin. “He took full advantage tonight and played his butt off. Rebounded the ball, handled the ball, and made some shots.”
Senior big man Brycen Carver pitched in 14 points on seven made field goals — after missing the first meeting between the Jeeps and Mohawks at South Webster back on Jan. 2.
Northwest fell to SW 54-47 in that meeting, as Scarberry said he felt as if Carver’s presence was a determining factor this time around.
“During that two-game stretch, Carver didn’t get to play because he wasn’t feeling well. We thought with him back inside, we should have a chance to win the ball game,” Scarberry said. “Fortunately, he played well and other kids really stepped up. All the kids that played stepped up tonight.”
Unofficially, Northwest outrebounded SW 31-15 — and also forced 15 Jeep turnovers while committing just seven itself.
South Webster was led in scoring by Cam Carpenter’s 10 points, including two of the Jeeps’ four made threes.
The No. 8-seed Jeeps are set to host No. 9-seed Notre Dame on Saturday, Feb. 27 (7 p.m.) in a Division IV sectional final.
SW won the two’s first meeting — a 53-42 win over the Titans on Nov. 28 in Portsmouth in both teams’ season opener.
Northwest, the No. 18-seed, will travel to No. 15-seed Zane Trace on Monday (Feb. 22) night in a Division III sectional semifinal — the winner set to face Wheelersburg, which earned a first-round bye.
A win would give the Mohawks’ boys program their first postseason win since a 67-57 win over Paint Valley in a Division III sectional semifinal on Feb. 20, 2012.
You couldn’t ask for a better time to be playing your best basketball, and a road postseason win on Monday night might just justify that hypothesis.
“Right now is when you want to be playing like this. Playing strong, playing hard — go to Zane Trace on Monday and do battle up there,” Scarberry said. “We’re just going to play good solid man-to-man. They’ve got two bigger kids with some size inside. We’ll just run the floor, play solid D and take what they give us.”
South Webster 11 4 5 13 — 33
Northwest 12 13 20 23 — 68
SOUTH WEBSTER 33 (8-12, 5-11 SOC II)
Connor Bender 1 3-4 6, Trae Zimmerman 1 2-2 4, Brock Campbell 0 0-0 0, Jaren Lower 0 0-0 0, Cam Carpenter 3 2-3 10, Brady Blizzard 4 0-0 9, Myles Beasley 0 0-0 0, Zander Rawlins 0 0-0 0, Will Collins 2 0-0 4, Lane Bond 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 11 7-9 33; Three-point field goals: 4 (Cam Carpenter 2, Connor Bender and Brady Blizzard 1 apiece)
NORTHWEST 68 (7-13, 5-11 SOC II)
Connor Lintz 5 2-2 12, Kyle Butler 0 0-0 0, Landen Smith 0 0-0 0, Jay Jenkins 3 2-2 9, Brayden Campbell 1 2-4 4, Tanner Bolin 7 2-2 20, Brycen Carver 7 0-2 14, Austin Newman 2 1-2 5, Evan Amburgey 0 0-0 0, Caleb Scoggins 2 0-0 4; TOTALS 27 9-14 68; Three-point field goals: 5 (Tanner Bolin 4, Jay Jenkins 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