NAPPANEE – The chase for a boys basketball championship in the Northern Lakes Conference was a wide open affair prior to a full slate of key league games Friday night.
That pursuit is even more up for grabs now thanks to a huge league road win by Northridge.
The Raiders outlasted NorthWood for a 58-55 victory in triple overtime in an NLC marathon contest Friday night in the Panther Pit.
The win by Northridge, which had lost its last three games to the Panthers, puts them at 2-1 in NLC action. The Raiders are tied in second place with NorthWood and Warsaw. Wawasee and Plymouth are each 1-2 with Goshen at 0-3.
Elkhart Memorial leads the league standings at 3-0 after a 44-28 win at Wawasee Friday night. Warsaw topped Goshen 53-35 and Plymouth defeated Concord 49-44 in other NLC games Friday night.
The Raiders used a huge advantage from the free throw line to turn back the Panthers. Northridge hit 21-27 from the line, while the hosts were just 4-14 from the stripe.The Raiders hit 3-4 from the line in the final overtime period and the Panthers were just 2-8 from the line in the final extra session.
NorthWood, which saw its five-game winning streak snapped, led 14-13 after the opening period and 25-24 at halftime. The Raiders led 38-36 after the third quarter and the game was tied at 45-45 at the end of regulation. The game was tied 49-49 after the first overtime and 53-53 after the second extra session.
The biggest lead of the contest, which featured 13 ties and 15 lead changes, was just six points at 14-8 by the Panthers in the first quarter.
Jackson Erekson led the way for Northridge, which was coming off a 55-49 loss to East Noble Tuesday night. Erekson scored 17 points and was 8-8 from the free throw line.
Caleb Lung had a big night to pace the Panthers, who fall to 8-3 overall. Lung poured in a game-high 24 points on 12-14 shooting from the field. He also had six rebounds.
Nick Bean scored seven points and Brad Delio had six for the Panthers. Kaden Gongwer and DeAndre Smart each added five points for NorthWood. Smart led NorthWood with 15 rebounds.
The game also saw Caleb Glick return to action for the Panthers. The senior had missed the previous four games after suffering a knee injury versus Jimtown back on Dec.12. Glick scored six points for the Panthers.
Alex Stouffer had nine points including a rebound basket that put his tea ahead for good at 55-53,, and Nick Yoder and Connor Utley each added seven for the Raiders, who improve to 5-5 overall.
Northridge shot 16-40 overall from the field, including 5-15 from distance.
NorthWood, which beat the Raiders 74-51 last season, went 24-55 overall from the field and was 3-13 from 3-point range.
The Raiders have NLC wins over Goshen and NorthWood and a loss to Warsaw. The Panthers have defeated Plymouth and Wawasee in league play.
NorthWood won the junior varsity game 45-27. Trent Edwards had 12 points and Ben Vincent eight to lead the winners.
Northridge hosts Penn Tuesday night. NorthWood returns to action at Goshen in NLC play next Friday night.