BOURBON – NorthWood makes its home at The Pit. For the past four visits, The Trench has felt like home for the Panthers.
NorthWood continued to play well at Triton, winning Friday night 65-47 in its fourth straight blowout in Bourbon. The Panthers have won the past four meetings by an average of 20 points, and save for a lively Triton fourth quarter, Friday’s matchup was largely all Panthers.
Eerily similar to how the Panthers knocked out Lakeland in its season opener, a grindy first quarter quickly morphed into a hot-shooting NorthWood run in the second. The Panthers exposed Triton’s lack of size inside to attack the basket early, Trent Edwards driving to the rack at will. An Edwards runner sent NorthWood to an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Cooper Wiens caught fire in the second quarter, hitting a three in transition to get NorthWood going. Wiens found himself open again in the corner for another three, then hit a trey on NorthWood’s next possession to run the visitor’s lead to 33-18. Edwards then scored the final five points of the half as the Panthers headed to the lockerroom up 20.
Edwards finished his night 10-15 from the floor for 25 points and helped his fantasy owners with five rebounds, seven assists, three steals, a block and no turnovers in nearly 28 minutes of plus effort.
Wiens had 13 points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks.
“I like the experience from our guys and the unity they showed in our first true road game,” said NorthWood head coach Aaron Wolfe. “I thought our guys came out with great energy and executed very well both offensively and defensively early on.”
Jamarr Jackson had four offensive and eight total rebounds and Jason Borkholder had just three rebounds, but his post work on Tyler Heckaman went beyond the scoresheet. Heckaman would finish with 16 points and six rebounds, but much of that output came in the second half with NorthWood up over 20 points and Borkholder out of the game.
“What was key was that it wasn’t really about stopping Tyler, but Triton has some great outside shooters,” Wolfe said. “They like to work the ball inside to Tyler, and if he doesn’t have a shot, they fire it back out and look for the three. Jason did a great job not letting Tyler get a lot of easy looks, and we were able to close out on their shooters and keep them from getting wide open shot attempts.”
Added Triton head coach Jason Groves of Heckaman, “We knew he was capable. He needed this breakout game and hopefully tonight will be the case where he gains that confidence and trusts himself and our teammates trust him.”
Triton, which has lost the last eight matchups in the series, did show signs of life in the second half. The play of Heckaman when he was allowed to catch and face the basket showed promise, and Quentin Amsden made several strong drives and finishes at the cup to finish with 10 points.
Ashton Oviedo hit a pair of threes and finished with nine points for the Trojans.
NorthWood went 9-19 from three-point range and shot 54 percent from the floor for the night while Triton shot just 36 percent for the night.
“Quentin Amdsen, coming off the injury, he’s starting to get back into the swing of things,” Groves said. “He adds another dimension to our team that we haven’t had. He is quick to get to the basket and penetrate and suck in some players and maybe get those other guys some shots.
“This is the type of team that we want to be like. We want to be like NorthWood. Give coach Wolfe and their kids credit, they are a good basketball team.”
A strong second quarter and an even better fourth propelled NorthWood to a 46-21 JV win. NorthWood’s 15-5 run in the second quarter afforded a 13-point halftime lead, but the Panthers ended the game on a 17-3 run. Caden Graham led NorthWood with 14 points and Neez Smith added 10 points and four rebounds. Connor Large led the Trojans with eight points.
NorthWood (3-1) will gear up for a big test Thursday at Westview while Triton (1-2) will come back to the Trench Tuesday to host Lakeland Christian.