Heights boys basketball has a long tradition of emphasizing team. That emphasis continues this season – unselfish play allowed three players to score in double figures in a 71-51 win over Northwest on Tuesday night as Heights improved to 4-0.
Heights boys basketball coach Joe Auer set up a team lock-in during the preseason, to help build team chemistry. The lock-in included activities such as listening to Heights alumni speak about basketball and life, along with games to help connect a group that had lost the core group of last season’s Class 5A tournament team.
“We have a way of doing things and one of the things we believe in is you win together,” Auer said. “Everything we do is connected. It’s a team game. Everything we do is about the group. They do a lot of team things. None of our kids care who scores the ball. They just want to win. Four games in, I couldn’t be happier with that. This group has a chance, if they will play together, to have a very special season.”
Northwest fed off three early three-pointers by Jalen Smith to stay within striking distance.
Never miss a local story.
The Grizzlies struggled from the field in the second, scoring only six points. Heights was able to feed off 11 first half turnovers by Northwest, going into the locker room with a comfortable 22-point lead.
“Early in the game, Jalen is our leader and we feed off of him all the time,” Northwest coach Bryan Chadwick said. “What we have to do is make sure we do is that we keep playing with Jalen. Tonight we kind of let it go … you have to help him out and go rebound it. If we rebounded, it would have been a little better game for us.”
The Falcons forced a total of 15 Northwest turnovers, with Deante Edwards leading the defensive charge with four steals while adding 13 points and eight rebounds.
“We’re pretty committed to our zone package,” Auer said. “We didn’t really have to make any adjustments tonight. I thought the kids were very locked in and they guarded their neighborhood, the saying we have in our matchup. Guard the neighborhood and trust your neighbors. That’s the key for us defensively. You trust your teammates doing their job and they do that. They did a great job.”
The Falcons’ ball movement allowed them to find wide open three-pointers, connecting on nine of them. Izaiah Hale led that charge with five three-pointers and 18 points, while Devin Davis added 16 points and dished out six assists.
Heights’ senior point guard Curtis Profit helped create the open looks, co-leading with Davis with six assists. Auer said that Heights’ seniors only care about winning and have “high-level goals” contributing to their leadership.
“Coach (Auer) is always talking about how the four seniors this year are really running the team” Davis said. “We always have to be leaders in the classroom, at practice and in the game.”
Heights: Hale 18, Davis 16, Edwards 13, Dempsey 8, Okon 6, Profit 2, Kiguru 2, Kirkendoll 2, Pillich 2, Bobbit 2
Northwest: Smith 28, Dixon 11, Hall 3, Trotter 3, Cupps 2, Phillips 2, Duncan 2,