Saucon Valley too much for Tigers in second half
After a three-day stint in West Virginia for a team camp that saw Northwestern compete in six games, the Tigers returned home and resumed play on the local summer hoops scene this week.
It looked as if they rode that momentum from the weekend, at least early on in Tuesday night's contest.
Behind the hot shooting of guard Brady Mengel, who scored seven of the first 12 Northwestern points, the Tigers jumped out to an early 18-8 lead before Saucon Valley responded to take a two-point lead into halftime. And once the second half got underway, the Panthers separated themselves and held on for a 53-41 victory at Parkland High School as Tuesday's Stellar Summer League games moved inside to avoid threatening weather.
Despite the loss, Tuesday's opening 20 minutes was arguably the best half of basketball head coach Billy Hallman has seen from his unit in the summer.
"I thought we did well and we competed," Hallman said. "We started well. Their one kid made a couple of three-pointers for them, but still we were OK. We didn't have to change anything or do anything crazy. But then in the second half, our defense wasn't nearly as sound as it was in the first half."
During that stretch to start the game, everything that Hallman had been asking of his players came to fruition. It all seemed to click at the exact same time.
Guard Parker Jones set up a number of teammates for open buckets, while also hitting an early clutch three-pointer. Mengel was hitting his open jumpers, from three-point territory and inside the arch. And Dustin Snyder was getting out in transition for numerous layups.
"He [Snyder] had a great weekend," Hallman said. "He was very aggressive, he went to the basket, and I saw it tonight. I think his legs got a little tired in the second half. I also think the same thing happened with Parker; I think he got tired.
"I knew we were going to struggle with that tonight after the weekend. The first 10 minutes we moved the ball, [and] we got up the floor, which is what we have to do."
After Jones set up Connor Hess for two of his eight points, the Panthers rallied by going on a 9-0 spurt to make it an 18-17 Northwestern lead. Saucon Valley took the lead moments later and led by as many as four points in the first half when it was 31-27.
The Panthers opened the second half on a 9-2 run to lead 40-31. Northwestern got to within double figures on one occasion from that point on when it was 48-39 late in the game.
Mengel led the way with 10 points, but Hess and Robbie Seyfried also provided a nice compliment in the frontcourt to go along with the Tigers' guard rotation. The two combined for 16 points.
"He [Hess] has been working hard all offseason," Hallman said. "He went to open gym, and he had a good weekend. His attitude has completely changed in the last month, which is huge for him.
"He [Seyfriend] is going to be huge for us. He's one of the other guys, him and Dustin, especially if they get up and down the floor. Robbie can run and he can rebound."
Northwestern faces Faith Christian on Thursday at Cedar Beach's Court 4 at 7 p.m.