NAPPANEE — NorthWood held the lead for all of 22 seconds, but the Panthers picked the right time — the final 22 seconds of the game — to take the upper hand.
It was a 3-pointer from the top of the key by senior Jonathan Wilkinson that finally allowed the Panthers to prevail in a 56-55 come-from-behind win over the Plymouth Pilgrims in a wild NLC high school boys basketball opener Friday night in the Panther Pit.
“That is a play we have been running since sixth or seventh grade,” Wilkinson said. “I was the first option on the play. (Senior) Will Stueve set a great screen and I hit the shot.
“The NLC is like the SEC in football. You can lose at any point.”
Wilkinson’s shot capped a comeback by the Panthers that saw them rally from a 14-2 deficit at 2:24 of the first period.
“This is what the NLC is all about,” NorthWood coach Aaron Wolfe said. “This is the third year in a row our game with Plymouth has been decided in the final possession. They beat us three years ago and we won last year at Plymouth in overtime. People thought I was sandbagging when I was talking about the NLC, but I expect six more games like this.”
Plymouth coach Ryan Bales said. “We played a tremendous game. We controlled the tempo and did just about everything we wanted to do for most of the game. We executed most of the game the way we wanted to. It just came down to making a couple of defensive stops at the end of the game that we didn’t make. We didn’t make plays at the end when we needed to.”
NorthWood trimmed the deficit to 32-29 at halftime. Plymouth was 10-of-14 shooting in the opening half. NorthWood drilled 8-of-10 shots in the second quarter after making 4-of-12 in the first period.