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Vikings gut out win in NE8 finale

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@h-ponline.com

Craig Teagle learned a lot about his team during Northeast 8 Conference play this season.

Entering as the two-time reigning champions, the Viking boys’ basketball team was tested, and toppled, on numerous occasions.

But a hard-fought, albeit ugly, 49-40 win at home over Norwell on Friday gave Huntington North a conference record above .500 and left Teagle satisfied as a whole.

“We ended up 4-3 and probably, with an inexperienced team coming into the season, probably pretty close to where I thought we’d finish,” he said. “I was hoping to maybe get to 5-2. To stay above .500 in the conference I think is good for us with some of these kids coming back next year. But we needed a win. We’d struggled the last two games. We really kind of struggled tonight but was able to find a way to win and some of those were because we got to the free throw line a lot.”

Little was pretty about Friday’s win. The Vikings took 23 free throws, outscoring the Knights by 15 at the line. Norwell shot just 35.6 percent from the field, hit 4-of-19 shots from deep, committed 12 turnovers and was blocked eight times.

But 14 points and seven rebounds, five of those offensive, from Will Geiger and nine points and five rebounds from Brandon Nicholson allowed the visitors to keep it close much of the evening.

“The Geiger kid is such an outstanding player,” Teagle said. “We were fortunate he got into a little bit of foul trouble and was not playing most of the second quarter which helped us. But we didn’t do a very good job on him, keeping him off the boards. He can drive it, he can post up, he can hit the three. He’s just got so much game to him. We were focused on shutting him and (Nicholson) down, but we didn’t do a very good job.”

The Vikings’ lead was in single digits for the near entirety of the night, save for a stretch to start the fourth quarter.

After seeing Norwell close the third with the final five points, Huntington North held the visitors off the scoreboard for the first 4:25 seconds of the final quarter. In the meantime, the Vikings extended the lead to 12.

Tre Reaser got the visitors on the scoreboard in the fourth before free throws from Geiger and a layup from Nicholson pulled Norwell back to within five with 1:23 remaining.

Huntington North, though, finished 11-for-14 from the line in the fourth quarter and iced the game away late, never allowing the Knights to get within one possession.

Mitchell Geller paced the Vikings with 15 points with 10 of those coming in the second half. Hank Pulver chipped in 11 while Sawyer Stoltz had nine points and four blocks on the evening.

The Vikings shot just 43.8 percent from the field and 2-of-11 from beyond the arc as they leaned on free throw shooting to guide them to a win. The Knights committed 22 fouls leading to 23 Viking free throws while Norwell attempted just five free throws.

Huntington North will finish, at worst, in fourth place in the conference with a chance at tying for third should second-place New Haven beat third-place Leo in the Feb. 20 match-up.

After capturing the conference title in each of his first two seasons at the helm, Teagle learned a lot about his team this season.

“I think some of it was we saw physically, we’re awfully weak,” he said. “Even tonight, I don’t know how many times we’d have a ball in our hands and somebody just takes it away from us and that’s just because we’re never very strong. We have to be committed to the weight room and getting stronger, getting tougher. That’s something that we can work on.

“I thought we did not show near as much poise as I thought we would late in the year. I thought sometimes we’d get a little loose with the basketball or kind of get that look in our eyes like we weren’t sure of ourselves. You can’t play that well. And then, obviously something I’ve talked about all year, we just have to be tougher. You have to believe in what you’re doing, believe in your teammates, trust in the system and just be tougher with the basketball.

“Have we improved? I think so. But we’re still not where we need to be.”

While Huntington North didn’t lead through, they grabbed control early in the first quarter and never looked back.

Trailing 6-3 early, a 7-0 run from Geller and Pulver pushed the Vikings ahead 10-6. Huntington North never trailed again on the night and built the lead to its largest of the first half by closing the second period with a 7-0 run to lead 22-14 at the break.

Three points is as close as the Knights would get in the second half, doing so twice in the third quarter. Geiger’s layup with 4:27 left cut the lead to 26-23, but Geller responded with an and-one and Trey Williams a fastbreak layup to restore an eight-point lead.

But baskets from Cole Wilson and Luke Zeddis, the latter a three-pointer, again pulled Norwell back to within a single possession at 31-28 heading into the fourth.

Huntington North moves to 15-5 overall on the year. The Vikings traveled to Fort Wayne Wayne Saturday night, but results were unavailable as of deadline Saturday.

The Vikings will next be in action Friday when they host Plymouth. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.



Norwell 40, Huntington North 49

Norwell' 9' 5' 14' 12' - 40

Huntington North' 10' 12' 9' 18' - 49


Individual stats

Norwell (40)

Will Geiger 5-10 3-3 14; Brandon Nicholson 4-8 1-2 9; Cole Wilson 3-6 0-0 7; Luke Zeddis 2-9 0-0 5; Tre Reaser 2-9 0-0 5; Levi Leidig 0-0 0-0 0; Quinton Purdy 0-1 0-0 0; Conner Torson 0-1 0-0 0; Drew Federspiel 0-1 0-0 0; Totals 16-45 4-5 40.

Huntington North (49)

Mitch Geller 5-7 5-6 15; Hank Pulver 4-4 3-3 11; Sawyer Stoltz 2-8 4-6 9; Zach Daugherty 1-6 5-6 7; Joe Stoffel 1-2 2-2 5; Trey Williams 1-3 0-0 2; Keegan Bartrom 0-2 0-0 0; Totals 14-32 19-23 49.



Team stats

3-point goals - Norwell 4-19 (Geiger 1-2, Zeddis 1-7, Wilson 1-4, Reaser 1-5), Huntington North 2-11 (Stoffel 1-2, Stoltz 1-2). Fouled out - Norwell: Nicholson, Huntington North - None. Rebounds - Norwell 25 (Geiger 7), Huntington North 26 (Geller 7). Assists - Norwell 5 (Geiger 2, Torson 2), Huntington North 8 (Pulver 3). Total Fouls - Norwell 22, Huntington North 10.