Heights’ boys basketball team prefers to play zone defense. But in Tuesday’s 49-45 win over Northwest, the Flacons learned they can rely on man-to-man, too .
Heights started Tuesday’s game against Northwest in a zone, and held the Grizzlies to single-digit scoring in each of the first three quarters. But Northwest pressured Heights to move to man defense while cutting a 10-point lead to two.
“We mostly practice the zone,” Heights’ Chris Reed. “Coach gets on us every day about the zone and rotating, but we don’t practice man as much. We stay in the zone process, so when we get to man we’re a little off, but then we get it together.”
Northwest took a three-point lead a minute into the game with Kaleb Cobb’s free throws. But the Grizzlies didn’t score again until two minutes remained in the first quarter. The second quarter followed the same trend, and Heights took a 21-13 lead by halftime.
“For the most part we were in control defensively all night. We had a very fantastic effort defensively,” Heights coach Joe Auer said.
Northwest gained a little momentum in the third quarter, cutting Heights’ lead to 10 points, then three-pointers from Aaron Nicholson and Brett Johnston gave the Grizzlies the offensive push they needed.
The fourth quarter opened with a three-pointer from Reed that Northwest’s Eric Lolar answered immediately. Northwest forced two turnovers leading to a layup by Johnston and two more three-pointers from Lolar to cut Heights’ lead to two with 4:05 remaining.
“We figured out we could attack the zone and then when (Heights) went to man, that’s not something that we’re not uncomfortable with, we expect it a lot,” Northwest coach Chris Collins said.
Northwest kept Heights within six points until Nicholson made a three-pointer with 51 seconds remaining, pulling Northwest within 45-42 deficit. Heights continued to get to the free-throw line, although only making two of its next six free throws allowed Northwest to stay within four points with 16 seconds remaining.
“(Northwest) got hot, first of all, they made four threes in the fourth, we didn’t do a good job of covering,” Auer said. “They got very hot in the fourth and took advantage of some mistakes we made.”
Johnston sunk two free throws for Northwest, cutting Heights’ lead to two with 15 seconds remaining, but Heights’ Jordan Wilbeck sealed the win with a layup and one second to play.
“We dug ourselves too much of a hole and when you play a team like this, outstanding basketball team, outstanding program, it’s tough to dig yourself a hole like we did and fight all the way back,” Collins said. “I felt really good about our chances down the stretch. I felt if we could get one more possession then we could have had the game.”
Northwest: Nicholson 2 0-0 6, Williams 0 1-2 1, Cobb 0 3-3 3, Carr 2 0-3 4, Johnston 4 5-6 14, Lolar 4 2-2 13, Carson 1 0-0 2, Darr 1 0-0 2, Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 14(6) 11-16 45.
Heights: Hervey 2 2-4 7, Reed 6 2-2 16, Bell 5 2-5 12, Wilbeck 3 3-8 9, C. Ellis 1 1-3 3, B. Ellis 0 0-0 0, Arnold 1 0-0 2, Moreland 0 0-0 0, Lowe 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 0-0 0. Totals 18(3) 10-22 49.