The top-ranked Heights boys basketball team knows about the bull’s-eye on its back. Northwest focused on it Friday night.
Northwest led 13-10 after the first quarter, but Heights adjusted to the flow of the game and dominated the next two quarters in a 76-53 victory at Northwest.
Heights, which outscored Northwest 43-23 in the middle periods, clinched a share of the City League title and can repeat as outright champ with a win against Bishop Carroll on Tuesday.
“They (Heights) did a great job of figuring a game out,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “We were very uncomfortable in the first quarter. You prefer they come out playing great, but good teams figure it out and once they figure it out, they are tough to deal with.”
Sophomore all-stater Perry Ellis (19 points) didn’t score his first basket until 1½ minutes into the second quarter, but it started a 10-4 run that built a lead for good.
Heights (16-2, 13-1 CL) led 29-19 at half.
Northwest withstood one Heights push to start the third quarter, but couldn’t stop the second.
Northwest trailed 36-32 with three minutes to play in the third, but Heights went on a 17-4 run to close the third quarter. Evan Wessel, who scored a game-high 21 points for Heights, made two threes. Dreamius Smith scored five points during the run.
The Falcons had figured it out.
“It was big to get out front at the end of the third quarter,” Wessel said. “They sat back in a zone and we just tried to open it up a little bit.”
Northwest, led by Craig Nicholson’s 15 points and Dave Carson’s 13 points, couldn’t answer.
“That was essentially the game,” Northwest coach Chris Collins said. “With a team like that, you have to play almost flawless basketball. Your mistakes can’t be at crucial moments. We spent so much energy in the first quarter getting the lead, it was just a lot of mental errors.”
Heights has Carroll and South remaining.
“When you are the defending champions, you are going to get everyone’s best shot, especially in our league,” Auer said. “To get that and to respond the way we have, I’m really pleased. There’s a lot of things we can get better at, but our team play, our sharing of the basketball, our ability to make adjustmentsæ.æ.æ. couldn’t ask for much more right now.”
Heights (16-2, 13-1) 10 19 24 23 — 76
Northwest (10-9, 9-6) 13 6 17 17 — 53
HEIGHTS: Wessel 9 0-0 21, Ellis 7 5-6 19, Smith 7 0-1 15, Moore 4 2-4 10, Washington 1 0-0 2, Powell 0 1-2 1, Dobbins 4 0-0 8. Totals 32 (4) 8-13 76.NORTHWEST: Nicholson 5 4-6 15, Carson 5 0-0 13, Landenberger 5 0-0 10, Gales 4 0-0 8, Johnson 3 0-0 6, White 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 (4) 5-8 53.