NEW PARIS – The National Trail Blazers hosted the Three Rivers Conference Northridge Polar Bears this past Saturday night. The Blazers were able to hang with the Polar Bears and made a good second half run but fell short down the stretch. They finally fell 53-40 after trying to foul in the last few minutes in a bid to try and catch up.
Early on the Blazers were anything but on fire. They were down 0-7 midway through the first quarter. It was Michael Leal who scored first for the Blazers. He drained a 3-pointer to put the Blazers on the scoreboard and then was fouled on a shot from the floor to score all 6 of Trails first quarter points. Leal would go on to lead the Blazers in scoring with 18 points on the night.
Northridge pressed most of the game and would play man-to-man in the half court for the first three quarters. Northridge rebounded well at first, but after Lane Koehl began to assert himself, the Blazers kept up in the rebounding department. Still the Blazers just kept pace with the Polar Bears in the firstt half going to the locker room down 24-16.
Coach Lockhart, “We have to value the ball offensively. We have to keep our turnovers in check. Sometimes we would rush in 1 on 2 or 3 instead of running our offense. We have to beat people because we are better basketball players and as a better team. We are not going to beat people one-on-one.”
The Blazers had a hard time slowing down Antoine Jacobs. He would lead all scoring with 25-points – 18 of those after halftime. The Blazers did different matchups on him, but they could not keep him away from the basket. Still they made a good run at the end of the third quarter thanks in part to a couple of treys by Wyatt House. With 2-minutes left in this quarter it was a 2-point game, 30-28.
But that was the high water mark for the Blazers. Both teams made adjustments in the last quarter. The Blazers tried to focus on their inside game by feeding the post. Northridge changed their defense to a 2-3 zone and stifled this move. When the Blazers tried to make them pay by feeding the perimeter, Northridge closed out well. This meant the Blazers weren’t getting good looks and when they shot, they were missing the mark.
The Blazers fouled late, but Northridge shot well from the free throw line and extended their lead to get the wide margin of victory. The Blazers had played hard and showed flashes of the team that they could be this season.
“We are trying to teach our kids about competing every night and to play hard. We are not the most athletic bunch and so we focus on fundamentals – how to better basketball players. Northridge was more athletic and their coach did a fine job – yet we had a chance to win the ball game.”
“We only had two kids come back who played varsity ball and so we worked hard this summer. It is little things right now that are shooting us in the foot – turnovers, not taking care of the ball, not boxing out. I told the kids tonight to go home and get a good rest because I could not ask for more defensive effort from our team. Tonight our effort was there and now we have to execute.”
National Trail – House 11, Leal 18, Murphy 4, Koehl 4, Carrell 2, Alexander 1.
Northridge – Adreyan 9, Sirrell 10, Tarus 2, Antoine 25, Jaronte 2, Marcus 2, Jermy 2.