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Youthful Tigers down Oredockers

MAPLE -- The jitters are gone for the Northwestern Tigers -- an impressive feat for a team starting four sophomores. Northwestern's young players proved their mettle Tuesday as they held off a hard-charging Ashland team in the fourth quarter to w...

Northwestern
Northwestern’s Alex Tecker gets off a shot during the Tigers game with Ashland last season. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

MAPLE - The jitters are gone for the Northwestern Tigers - an impressive feat for a team starting four sophomores.

Northwestern’s young players proved their mettle Tuesday as they held off a hard-charging Ashland team in the fourth quarter to win 50-44.

Sophomores accounted for 37 of the Tigers’ 50 points.

“The first couple games I think they were very nervous,” said Dave Gustafson, Northwestern head coach. “It was their first varsity experience, but each game you can see that they’re calming down, kind of learning what their roles are.

“We expect a lot out of those guys for a few years for sure.”

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Tuesday’s victory puts the Northwestern High School boys basketball team at 4-1 overall, while the Oredockers slip to 1-3.

Riley Stowers, one of Northwestern’s sophomore starters, led all scorers with 16 points. He scored 14 of his points in the second half, including six in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter to secure the win.

“When it gets to crunch time, he has that ability to take over and get to the basket,” Gustafson said. “He has really good control of his body so he’s able to finish a lot of difficult shots.”

Stowers stepped up for Northwestern after Ashland opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to take a 42-41 lead. He put the Tigers back in front with a pull-up jumper at 3:19, and on the defensive end he cut Ashland’s possession short with a steal.

The sophomore then added to Northwestern’s lead when he drew a foul and sank both free throws.

John Sechen cut the lead to one on an inside shot with 49 seconds to play, but the Tigers answered 12 seconds later when Nate Pearson found Alex Tecker open under the basket.

Stowers then gave Northwestern a 49-44 lead with a pair of free throws on a one-and-one bonus, and Steve Kastern added another free throw at the 10-second mark for the final score of 50-44.

“We were just trying to work as a team, do everything we can to get some buckets,” Stowers said.

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The sophomore thinks defense tipped the scales in Northwestern’s favor, especially the team’s perimeter defense in the second half.

The Tigers gave up five 3-pointers to Ashland in the opening 16 minutes, but in the second half they allowed only two, both in the third quarter.

Brendan Carter finished the night with four 3-pointers for the Oredockers. He and Jordan Coffland scored 14 points apiece to lead Ashland.

“That’s the kind of performance that I hold Carter and Coffland to,” said Joe Corbine, Ashland head coach. “They did a fantastic job. A lot of pressure was going on Johnny (Sechen) and those guys were able to respond.”

Zach Whiting also added seven points for Ashland and helped lead the team’s comeback in the fourth quarter.

The senior hit a pair of free throws a minute into the quarter, and freshman Averie Habas cut the Tigers’ lead to 39-36 with a transition layup at 6:42.

Whiting countered two Northwestern free throws with a layup, and Coffland followed with back-to-back baskets to give Ashland a 42-41 lead with 3:55 to play.

“We had a couple freshmen out there who really made the difference coming off that bench,” Corbine said. “They were a group that worked well together, passed the ball and defended quite well.

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“At the end of that little stretch, not only were the Tigers tired, but we were as well. We pretty much worked each other out of gas.”

Ashland trailed by just one point with less than a minute to play, but Northwestern closed out the game with five unanswered points, three coming at the free-throw line.

For the night, the Tigers were 11-of-13 on free throws, while Ashland was 5-of-7.

The Tigers played Washburn Thursday and host Cumberland at 7:15 p.m. today.

TIGER TALES: Coaches Corbine and Gustafson faced each other in high school - Gustafson for the South Shore Cardinals and Corbine for the Ashland Oredockers. “We beat him too -  in the lifetime combined,” Corbine said. “So it’s fun, and it’s always good to see Coach Gustafson.” … Tecker is one of only two starters returning for Northwestern this season. The other is junior Nate Pearson, who played in his first game Tuesday after missing the start of the season due to a football injury. “He has a lot of energy, and having him on the floor makes a big difference,” Gustafson said. “Not just his energy but his leadership, his experience.”

 

Ashland......................... 14    9      9      12    -  44

Northwestern.................. 12    11     16    11    -  50

Ashland - Jordan Coffland 14, Brendan Carter 14, Zach Whiting 7, John Sechen 5, Matt Tarasewicz 2, Averie Habas 2. 3-point goals - Carter 4, Coffland 2, Sechen.

Northwestern - Riley Stowers 16, Alex Tecker 13, Steve Kastern 5, Nate Pearson 5, Mike Lindsay 4, Matt Lindsay 4, David Bethards 3. 3-point goals - Stowers 2, Bethards.

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
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