Northwestern Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Connor Hess dribbles around a Wilson player during last week's loss to the Warriors. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Connor Hess dribbles around a Wilson player during last week's loss to the Warriors.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZNorthwestern’s Ryan McCann tries to get a shot off against Northern Lehigh. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZNorthwestern’s Ryan McCann tries to get a shot off against Northern Lehigh.

Boys seek three more victories

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 by JUSTIN CARLUCCI Special to the Press in Sports

Northwestern was fired up prior to its Colonial League senior night contest with Northern Lehigh on Friday.

The energy during the pregame activities to honor the Tigers’ seven seniors immediately carried over to the hardwood.

Appropriately enough, a pair of seniors were lights-out on their big night in front of family and friends. Brady Mengel and Parker Jones were terrific for the home team, en route to a 61-47 league victory over the Bulldogs.

“We like to run,” said Northwestern head coach Billy Hallman. “Coming into tonight, Northern Lehigh wasn’t really a transition team, so we knew we had to push the pace. We got out to that lead and that was key for us.”

The Tigers immediately ran up and down the court to a 12-2 advantage in the first period and never trailed. Jones sank a pair of three-pointers during the fast first frame. Not only did Jones score a dozen points throughout the contest, the 5-foot-9 senior also corralled 13 rebounds.

“Parker is our best rebounder,” said Hallman. “He’s real athletic and able to attack the rim from the wings. It’s hard to box him out because he’s so fast and he can jump off the floor. We move him all around the floor. When he plays that way and rebounds well, we can get out in transition and get some easy baskets which works well for us.”

Jones didn’t have to put on his usual offensive clinic tonight because Mengel was on fire. The senior got better as the game went on nailed five three-pointers during the win. He tallied a team-high 20 points.

“He’s been working hard,” Hallman said. “He does a lot of stuff for us, but he’s our best defender. He works hard on defense, and then his confidence transitions to offense. Once he sees that first one go in, look out.”

The Tigers led by as much as 21 in the second quarter, but Miller’s squad chipped away to cut the deficit to under a dozen at an instance in the second half.

“We wanted them to score in their set offense, which we thought would at least keep us in the game,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Jeff Miller. “They gave us an opportunity to get back into the game, I thought. A few missed opportunities when we didn’t get a rebound or a loose ball, we cut it to 11 but we just couldn’t take advantage of it.”

After the late Bulldogs’ spurt, the Tigers answered with a 9-0 run to take back complete control of the game.

In the second half, Northwestern senior Connor Hess confidently stepped into and drained his first-career three-point basket.

“He’s been bugging me all year to shoot a three and I keep telling him no,” said Hallman. “Everyone else keeps shooting them, so we went into halftime and drew it up for him. He’s bummed because he took another one, and now he’s not shooting 100 percent for his career.”

Aside of the big Northwestern 12-2 run to kick off the game, the Tigers ripped off another 12-0 run between the first two quarters to help keep momentum on their side.

“It was fun tonight,” said Hallman. “The seniors look forward to tonight. It’s tough that it’s their last game”

The win improved Northwestern to 8-11 overall and 5-9 in Colonial League play. The Tigers need to win their final three games to qualify for the district playoffs. They travel to Pen Argyl Thursday, head to undefeated Salisbury on Monday and finish the regular season at Catasauqua Wednesday, Feb. 3.

“We have three games left,” said Hallman. “We’re not giving up,” said Hallman. “Our goal coming into the year was to get 11 wins and we can still achieve that. We have three days of practice and we can fine-tune some things. We’ll take it one game at a time, we’ll go play Pen Argyl and see what happens.”