By Taylor Eldridge
You’ll be able to read my story in tomorrow’s paper, but this game had the feel of a City League basketball game. The pace of the game felt like in the City. The flow didn’t feel like a City League vs. Ark Valley matchup, and that’s a credit to Maize. The Eagles can run and so can the Grizzlies, which made for a very exciting basketball game.
Click the jump for some more analysis.
The first quarter both of these teams came out blazing. They combined to shoot 18 for 32, but also 14 turnovers. To say the least, it was a crazy opening to the game. The teams traded the lead eight times in the quarter alone.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Maize’s Josh Davis got things going early, his drives were hard to stop for the Northwest D. He had 13 of his 15 points in the first half and set the tone for the Eagles early. Craig Nicholson was the equivalent of that for the Grizzlies, knocking down three three-pointers and scoring 14 points in the first half.
Things continued to go back-and-forth in the second quarter with Maize actually taking the lead 43-41 with under 30 seconds left. But Anthony Collins drove and found Spenser Gales to tie the game up with nine seconds left and a steal and a quick pass forward gave June Johnson a chance to knock down a leaner right before the buzzer for a 45-43 halftime lead. I thought this game might get into the 100’s.
Northwest started to impose its will in the third quarter and it could have put the game away. But the Grizzlies are young. With youth and inexperience, comes immaturity. Right after Northwest had built its biggest lead of the game, 61-52 with 36 seconds left in the third quarter, came the biggest letdown.
After a missed shot by Maize, the rebound was – let’s just say – “hotly contested” by Maize’s Alex Hammack and Northwest’s Spenser Gales. Both came down with the ball, both didn’t let go. Gales was very evident in his frustration and he got T’ed up, as well as an intentional foul called on him. That’s four free throws to Maize and the ball. Now the Eagles only came away with two points from the whole affair, but the momentum was swung nevertheless.
Maize tied the score at 68 with 4:01 left and the lead was traded back-and-forth, but it seemed like Northwest was still in control. But when Nicholson fouled out with four minutes left, that was a huge blow. Playing without its point guard, Northwest still weathered the storm with Dave Carson’s stroke (20 points with four 3’s).
Northwest still seemed in control of the game, but Maize tied it up at 79-all on a Blake Sturgeon jumper. And when Northwest turned the ball over with under a minute remaining, Maize – surprisingly – was the team with the opportunity to win the game in regulation.
Maize whittled down the clock and Sturgeon drove using a pick, but his shot was too hard and Northwest rebounded and outletted it very quickly to Grant Landenberger, who touch-passed it ahead to June Johnson with under five seconds left. Johnson had a fastbreak lay-up ahead with only Maize’s Ryan McCarthy stopping him. And stop him he did, as McCarthy undercut Johnson and stripped the ball as he was going up. Huge play that saved the game for Maize.
Anthony Collins’ off-balanced three-pointer missed and the game went to overtime. Maize quickly took control in overtime, taking a 84-81 lead with under a minute left. Instead of try to get as many possessions as possible, Northwest took its time and tried to find a good look from three-point range. I wouldn’t call it a great look, but Carson pulled up from the top of the key and fired a contested three-pointer that missed with under 15 seconds left. Maize rebounded and was fouled and made a free throw to secure the win.
Now my take on both of these teams. Maize is a team that I like a lot, especially in the Ark Valley. I think they should take care of Div. I pretty easily. Blake Sturgeon and Luke Langley are two solid floor leaders, Josh Davis and Alex Hammack are good slashers, Ryan McCarthy is a spark off the bench and the inside game of Derek Lee, Ryan Schultz and Tyler Hosman are solid. They can run and gun and they can work it in the half-court too. They will be very strong contenders to qualify for state this season.
Northwest, as I’m sure you are aware of, is a very young team. A team that won two games last season. It’s not hard to see they are vastly improved from last season, but they still don’t have much experience. They are going to win some games against some good teams, but they are going to lose some winnable games – like the one tonight – too. I like the talent on this team though. Craig Nicholson is a good scoring point guard and I was impressed by Dave Carson, June Johnson and Chris Fox. The Grizzlies will need some inside production from Spenser Gales and Anthony Collins though, if they want to be successful.
(10) Blake Sturgeon*1-50-00-02022351
(13) Luke Langley*3-90-11-37022616
(25) Josh Davis*6-100-03-1015112323
(44) Derek Lee*3-71-26-1213527001
(32) Ryan Schultz*8-152-34-82251217222
(21) Ryan McCarthy7-111-31-216235032
(22) Alex Hammack1-41-32-45123131
(42) Tyler Hosman2-60-11-25459002
(51) Steven Wolgamott0-00-00-00011000
(13) Craig Nicholson6-93-33-418011033
(25) Dave Carson7-204-102-220246123
(12) Chris Fox2-80-26-710145103
(10) Anthony Collins2-110-24-78257306
(33) Spenser Gales1-50-00-02325121
(14) Grant Landenberger1-40-00-02033411
(35) June Johnson6-102-22-216213115
(11) Brian Beiker0-10-10-00011000
(34) Jared White1-30-00-02123000
(22) Kendrick Miller1-30-01-23314100