Tiger boys win league opener

The Northwestern High School boys basketball team opened Heart O' North Conference play at home Tuesday night with a 76-54 victory over the Hayward Hurricanes.

The Northwestern High School boys basketball team opened Heart O' North Conference play at home Tuesday night with a 76-54 victory over the Hayward Hurricanes.

The Tigers are now 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the conference, while the Hurricanes are 1-1 in both overall and conference play.

For the Tigers, who lost by about 30 points at Hayward last year, there was a lot to play for in the game.

"They knew this was a big game," NHS coach Dan Cowley said. "They knew this was one of the teams that we're going to have to beat to win the conference, and you're never sure how they're going to handle a big game."

In this match-up, Cowley felt the team proved it can play in big games, which he thought boded well for the future. Cowley also said the team had a very solid effort all around.


"Just about everybody shot the ball really well and everybody played really well," Cowley said. "It's hard to find fault with anybody that played."

Hayward won the tip-off and got to work right away with a 3-pointer from Jimmy Thompson 24 seconds into the game. The Tigers missed on their first possession, but a Hurricane turnover and subsequent foul returned the ball the to NHS. This time William Koepp came through for the Tigers with a short jumper and made the score 3-2 in favor of Hayward.

The Hurricanes committed another turnover inbounding on their next possession, and NHS took advantage with Koepp fouled going to the hoop. He sunk both free throws to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead, their first of the game.

Hayward went on to reclaim the lead once more in the first quarter before the Tigers took the lead for good. With 3:54 left to play in the first quarter, it was tied at 10 apiece, but then Devin Doskey grabbed a rebound and got the put back to make it 12-10 Tigers. By the end of the quarter, NHS had extended its lead to 19-15.

In the second quarter, the Tigers were again aided by Hurricane turnovers. In fact, Hayward traveled on its first two possessions, setting NHS up with a good opportunity to pull ahead. The Tigers did just that as Saul Falter hit a 3-pointer at the 6:35 mark to make it 22-15.

Deo Tecker added a 3-pointer of his own for NHS just under a minute later, and scoring from Steven Tecker, Kelsey Moreland and Falter pushed the Tigers' lead to 30-20.

The Hurricanes tried to come back, but they continued to be plagued by turnovers in the later half of the second quarter. The Tigers meanwhile, executed their plays well and made crisp passes to open players. Just as the buzzer was about to sound for halftime, Moreland sunk a morale-boosting 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 40-27 lead at halftime.

The third quarter opened with the Hurricanes going on the attack. Hayward drew the foul on its first possession and made the extra free throw to cut the Tigers' lead to 40-30. On the defensive end, Hayward forced a NHS turnover to reclaim the ball, but then the Tigers heated up on offense.


Koepp kicked off a NHS 10-0 run with two 3-pointers, and finished it with an easy inside shot at the 4:53 mark. The Hurricanes' Connor Milward kept Hayward alive, though, scoring twice to move to 50-34 with 4:11 left to play in the third quarter.

Each possession, the Tigers took their time setting up running their offense and waiting for a good shot to develop. It paid off as NHS got some easy looks and took time of the clock. At the end of the third quarter, the Tigers led 57-41.

In the fourth quarter the Hurricanes again came out determined to fight their way back into the game, but the Tigers matched their intensity. On its first possession, Hayward's Thompson drove through the lane and made the shot and the extra point that followed. Steven Tecker answered for the Tigers, cutting inside to get an open shot and making it 59-43. Moreland made a 3-pointer for NHS at the 6:44 mark and then got the steal. Moreland's fast-break layup was no good, but Steven Tecker was following just behind to clean up the play to give NHS a 64-43 lead.

The Hurricanes made a slight comeback with a 9-5 run over the next 2:30, but it wasn't quite enough. NHS went on to win by a final score of 76-54.

Cowley said this was a big win for the Tigers, as Hayward won the conference title last season and was picked as the preseason favorite to win again this year.

"They're young and I think it was good for us to catch them early here," Cowley said of Hayward. "I think the next time we play them some of those younger kids are going to be a little more seasoned, and I'm sure they'll handle some of the things we did to them a little bit better."

Falter led the Tigers in scoring with 22 points. Koepp and Moreland also scored in double figures with 17 and 15 points, respectively. The Tigers had nine 3-pointers on the night and outscored the Hurricanes in every quarter.

The one blemish on the Tigers' impressive game was their poor perimeter defense.


NHS gave up seven 3-pointers on the night, five to Thompson alone, who led the 'Canes with 29 points.

Hayward also got the better of NHS at the free-throw line, where the Hurricanes made 11-of-12 attempts and the Tigers made only 8-of-14.

The Tigers are at Chetek at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

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