Northwestern Press

Sunday, May 20, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZDeven Bollinger scored 15 points Monday against Notre Dame (Green Pond). PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZDeven Bollinger scored 15 points Monday against Notre Dame (Green Pond).

Boys look to break 3-game losing streak

Friday, January 19, 2018 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Coming into this past weekend, the Northwestern boys basketball team hadn’t dropped back-to-back games this season. But after Monday’s loss to Notre Dame (Green Pond), the Tigers (8-6 overall; 6-5 Colonial League) have lost three straight games and have some tough games down the road.

The three losses have come against Colonial League opponents with a combined league record of 21-12 and an overall mark of 25-18. The one that truly got away was Saturday’s 76-53 loss to Southern Lehigh (5-5, 5-9) when the Tigers simply came out slow against the Spartans.

“We’ve had three tough games here,” said Tigers coach Billy Hallman. “I was happy with our effort [against Notre Dame], but we have to clean some things up, taking care of the basketball, communicating and getting to our spots defensively. But I was still encouraged. The Southern Lehigh game was a complete breakdown and now the guys will get a little bit of a break because we don’t play again until Saturday.”

The Tigers face Lehighton (2-5 Schuylkill, 2-11 overall) Saturday, but the Colonial League schedule then picks up against Bangor (10-0, 12-1), and then the rivalry matchup with Northern Lehigh (5-5, 8-6) next Thursday. Northwestern beat the Bulldogs 57-55 in overtime in the first meeting of the two teams earlier in the season, while the game against Bangor is the first meeting of the two teams this season.

Northwestern lost to Notre Dame 72-61 on Monday, which came on the heels of losses to Moravian Academy and Southern Lehigh and dropped the Tigers to 6-5 in the Colonial League and 8-6 overall this season.

The biggest loss of the three games might have come when big-man Luke Hallman went down with an ankle injury against Southern Lehigh. While coach Hallman is waiting on doctors exams to determine how long he’ll be out, the best guess right now is that Luke Hallman will miss about two weeks. Coach Hallman is hopeful to get him back a little ahead of that schedule for the game against rival Northern Lehigh next Thursday.

The loss of Hallman hurt Northwestern’s rebounding, but it also provided an opportunity for Deven Bollinger to shine in that role. Bollinger picked up much of the responsibility and was a workhorse on the boards . He also finished with 15 points for the Tigers.

“We’ve been challenging him for the last week or so and he stepped up tonight, he grew up tonight,” said Billy Hallman. “He should be our guy. We want him to be our guy. Tonight, he was scoring with the ball, but also rebounding, so moving forward that’s a good sign.”

Northwestern had three players in double-digit scoring, with sophomore Devin Thomas leading all scorers with 18 points. In addition to Thomas and Bollinger, Sam Yadush scored 12 for Northwestern. The Crusaders (9-2, 12-4) also had three players in double-digits, with Jaden Cunningham scoring 17, Filippo Baldo had 15 and Zach DeFoe finished with 12. Junior David Sanders would have likely joined his teammates in scoring double-digits, but he sat out late in the game when he got into foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.

“This was one that we wanted, because we wanted to get back on track,” said Hallman of the loss to Notre Dame. “We have ourselves in a good spot after the first half of the season and we’re trying to get moving here in the second half, but Notre Dame is a good basketball team, so we’ll take some positive out of this and we’ll be alright come Saturday.”