NU senior Zach Vernon (2) cuts the corner on London’s Isaiah Jones (20). Vernon combined with Owen Davis for 46 points in the team’s win over the Red Raiders.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Aleksei Pavloff)
NU junior Owen Davis (13) tries to get past London’s double team of Zach Jones (15) and Brady Carter (23). Davis had 23 points in the Wildcats’ win over the Red Raiders.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Aleksei Pavloff)
“[London] is a really athletic team,” said NU Boys Basketball Head Coach Brian Terrell. “It was basically two teams going head-to-head and trading blows.”
That was Terrill’s description of the Wildcats’ 60-43 triumph.
It was a heated fight from the start between the two Central Buckeye Conference opponents.
London’s Isaiah Jones drew first blood as he fired a three-pointer to put the Red Raiders in place early in the first quarter.
North Union didn’t rush away from the challenge and instead embraced the hostile on-field environment for the Red Raiders.
Around the six-minute mark in the first quarter, NU’s Zach Vernon tied the game at 3-3 after earning a three-pointer of his own.
The two teams clashed on the pitch in what turned out to be a physical clash from the start. At the end of the first quarter, the Wildcats narrowly led with the score of 12-10.
If the initial set was hot, the second quarter felt like an oven. London’s Richard Dodson got his first three of the quarter, putting London ahead at 19-16.
North Union’s Mason Bright refuted the opposing senior guard’s score with a three-pointer to force a 19-19 stalemate.
Dodson again saw his number called with around two minutes left in the first half.
He scored his second three-point goal.
However, a one-on-one game from Vernon drew a foul. He tied the game 22-22 with a charity pitch.
With 1:30 to go in the first half, the two CBC opponents were tied at 24-24.
“It didn’t surprise me at all,” Terrell said referring to the competitiveness of the two teams in the first half.
With less than a minute remaining, Londoner Brady Carter put the Red Raiders ahead 27-24 with a three-point shot.
North Union’s Owen Davis drove hard for a layup that cut NU’s deficit to 27-26.
With 29.5 seconds left, London opted for a time out.
Taking the ball in bounds, Vernon ran across the floor, smashing his way through a double team.
The 6-7 senior had his shot blocked, but the Wildcats had another scoring chance after the ball went out of bounds with 1.4 seconds left at the half.
In a moment of pure chaos, Vernon caught the incoming pass and scored a basket on a shot that former NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon would be proud of, giving NU a 28-27 halftime lead.
“It’s relentless,” Terrell said of Vernon’s final second shot. “Children are getting better at making adjustments.”
Looking back, the Cats planned to not have another game decided by a point as they reunited at halftime.
“I just didn’t want it to come down to the last two minutes,” Terrill joked. “We have played five one-point games this year.
“As far as I’m concerned, he has to stay at five.”
Vernon was fouled to start the third quarter.
He dropped a layup on the play and hit the free throw.
As such, NU extended their lead to 31-27.
The Wildcats stayed the course as London struggled to keep pace.
Davis had his best quarter of the night, scoring four field goals and a free throw for nine points in the period.
He followed that up with a six-point performance in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats continued to mount a consistent offensive offense.
In the fourth quarter, Davis was called to drive the ball in with a defender’s back towards him. He opted to bounce it off the back of the opponent and follow up with a basket.
“He’s just a very smart player,” Terrell said. “He just made a smart play.”
The junior and senior combo of Davis and Vernon proved to be a force on the field for the Wildcats as they combined for 46 points.
In junior varsity action, the Wildcats trailed, 63-35, against the London team.
The Wildcats are expected to host Graham on Friday.
Draper 0-0-0, Vernon 9-4-23, Parish 1-0-2, Bright 2-0-6, Davis 11-1-23, T. Krebehenne 0-0-0, A. Krebehenne 3-0 -6, Room 0-0-0, Keever 0-0-0. Three-point goals: Vernon, Bright 2.
Schooley 0-0-0, Smith 1-0-3, Combs 1-0-2, Dodson 2-0-6, Z. Jones 7-0-15, I. Jones 4-0-9, Carter 3-0 -8, Payne 0-0-0, Menke 0-0-0. Three-point goals: Smith, Dodson 2, Z. Jones, I. Jones, Carter 2.