Things looking up after NHS lossSPOONER — No team likes to see its season come to an end, but at times, a loss can be more inspiring than a win
By: Emily Kram, The Daily Telegram
SPOONER — No team likes to see its season come to an end, but at times, a loss can be more inspiring than a win.
The Northwestern High School boys basketball team is hoping that will be the case for it after a 68-46 loss to the Spooner Rails in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinals Thursday night at Spooner.
“Sometimes realizing how far you have to go can be motivation,” NHS coach Dan Cowley said. “At the end of the game in the locker room, I said we had a very good season and I’m real proud of what we accomplished, but looking to next year, if we want to have a great season we all have to work at getting better.”
“I think we’ll have a great year next year,” said Donnie Hissa, a sophomore for NHS. “Almost everybody’s returning and we’re going to work this summer. Everybody’s going to work harder and we’re going to have some good players coming up from JV.”
The Tigers showed their potential in the first half. After watching Spooner jump out to a 4-0 lead, junior Aaron Corry started the comeback for NHS by draining a 3-pointer. Hissa then came up with a steal and made both free throws after being fouled to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
Spooner went on a run and led by six with about four minutes left to play, but the Tigers remained focused. Corry and sophomore Steve Tecker combined to make up the deficit and the game was tied at 15 with 1:55 left in the first quarter. Hissa added a putback in the closing seconds to put NHS on top.
NHS took control in the second quarter and built a four-point lead with about five and a half minutes left. The Tigers’ maintained the lead and the momentum until Spooner’s Curtis Richardson tossed up a shot about five feet from the half-court line to beat the buzzer and put the Rails ahead 26-25.
“I think there was a stretch there in the late part of that second quarter where if we had played the way we did earlier, we could probably have gone into halftime with an eight- or 10-point lead,” Cowley said. “But we made some mistakes when we had the opportunities and they capitalized on our mistakes.”
The game remained even in the first three minutes of the third quarter, but Spooner then went on a 6-0 run that put the Rails in front for good.
“It was a very athletic game,” Spooner coach Chris Anderson said. “The first half it was just back and forth, but I think the shape we’re in and the style of ball we play really helped us take over that third quarter.”
An increase in defensive pressure also aided the Rails. Anderson said he asked his players to get more intense after halftime. He felt the team had showed intensity in the first half, but not at the level of which they were capable.
“Hitting some shots didn’t hurt either,” Anderson added. “Jake Olson hit some shots and Max Anderson started it off, and that really got us going.”
Cowley said after watching Spooner play for years, he knows the team plays off of emotions and can be very dangerous when allowed to gain momentum.
“I think that momentum shifted a little bit right before the quarter,” Cowley said. “Certainly the third quarter we came out and they were hitting shots and we weren’t. Before long you’re seven down and you’re 10 down; it just started getting away from us.
“I will say this, the way they shot there for a stretch in that third quarter, they probably would have put a run on anybody.”
Hissa was also stunned by Spooner’s impressive third-quarter offense.
“They just shot the ball really well and couldn’t miss a shot,” Hissa said. “We were getting good looks and couldn’t knock them down.
“We gave it everything we had. We didn’t lose because of lack of effort. Some nights it just doesn’t go your way.”
Spooner’s Richardson led all scorers with 22 points, and Olson made three of his team’s six 3-point shots in the game. For NHS, Tecker led with 15 points, followed by Corry with 12 and Hissa with eight.
“We ran into a really veteran group,” Cowley said. “They’re all seniors, all of their main players played in the sectional finals last year, they’ve been through the wars and tonight that was the difference.”
As for the Tigers, Cowley said next year, he’s sure the players will be looking to end their season on a different note.