Young boys team finishes 12-11
There are bound to be some very bright days ahead for a young Northwestern Tigers basketball team that found their way to a 12-11 season. While the Tigers might have hoped for a little more success in the Colonial League where they finished 9-9, overall, the season exceeded some expectations for such a young team.
The team put out a good effort right from opening night through the rest of the season. The season opened with the Wilson Tip-Off Tournament where Northwestern beat the hosting Warriors 67-55 and then lost in the championship game to Pleasant Valley on a last-second three-pointer to fall 67-64. Even on that play, the Tigers defense kept the Panthers from executing what they wanted to do and it took some improvising and athleticism to come up with the win.
Those games served as a springboard for the team that rattled off three straight wins and found themselves with an increased sense of confidence and battling on the court in every game. There’s no denying that the team took a hit when Luke Hallman went down with an ACL injury against Southern Lehigh that cost him almost the last month of the regular season. Hallman’s injury came in the middle of a tough stretch of games and the Tigers lost three straight to Colonial League foes.
Junior guard Brandon Mengel filled in well for Hallman and gained some important experience that will serve him and the team well next season.
Their nine league wins weren’t enough to qualify for the Colonial League playoffs, but their overall record did get them into districts. That was the good news. The bad news was that their first district playoff game was against a state powerhouse Lower Moreland team that came into districts ranked fifth in the state. Plus, the game was on Lower Moreland’s home court and the result was a 60-43 loss for the Tigers and an early exit from the postseason. Surprisingly, Lower Moreland (17-8) lost in the first round of the PIAA Tournament, falling to Overbook 76-51.
While they were young, the Tigers were able to have four players finish the season averaging double-digits in scoring. Junior Sam Yadush averaged 15.1 points per game to lead the team, while classmate Devin Thomas was fourth with 10.9 points per game. Sophomores Deven Bollinger (12 ppg) and Luke Hallman (11 ppg) finished second and third in scoring, respectively.
“It’s a young group of guys,” said Northwestern head coach Billy Hallman late in the season. “I think they’ve learned a lot about playing with each other and what it takes to win in this league over the course of the schedule. I’m excited to see what they can do when they have even more time to develop and grow together and come into next season.”