Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 9, 2014

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Panthers dispatch Chargers, on to regionals

By GREG KEIM greg.keim@goshennews.com
Goshen News

---- — SYRACUSE — Pail Widner may not have been on the court scoring baskets, but there is no doubt as to the importance his role played in the NorthWood High School boys basketball team winning the Class 3A sectional championship Saturday night at Wawasee.

The school’s veteran trainer got senior player Zach Zurcher sufficiently recovered from a wrist injury sustained last Wednesday night to toss in a game-high 23 points as the Panthers defeated the West Noble Chargers, 75-61, in the finale.

“Zach had a tough week,” NorthWood coach Aaron Wolfe said. “We didn’t know until game time on Friday night if he was going to be able to play and then 24 hours later he has an exceptional game. Paul (Widner) was great in working with him.”

Zurcher made 9-of-17 field goals attempts, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.

“The wrist feels great now,” Zurcher said after the contest. “During the game I had to block out the pain. I’ll have to keep working hard to get ready for next week.”

After NorthWood’s semifinal win on Friday Wolfe listed Zurcher at 50 to 75 percent at the start of the game.

“It’s amazing how well Zach progressed in the last 24 hours,” Widner said. “He played with a lot more confidence tonight.”

Senior Jonathan Wilkinson, who tossed in 21 points, said about Zurcher, “Zach is a fighter.”

It’s the fifth sectional title in NorthWood history. Others were in 1995, 2001, 2007 and 2012.

The victory advances the Panthers (21-2) to the Blackford regional next Saturday at 10 a.m. where they will square with Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (15-8). Dwenger defeated New Haven 50-40 for its sectional title.

“This win is very satisfying since a year ago we lost in the championship game,” Zurcher said. “Coach Wolfe told us that no other senior class at NorthWood has ever won two sectional titles so it’s really great to be the first.”

Wilkinson added, “This title validates everything we have been working for.”

The Panthers led 19-14 after one period and stretched the lead to 38-27 by halftime.

“We came out with a lot of focus,’ Wilkinson said. “We have been relentless all season. We will keep pushing forward. It has gotten us this far so why change now?”

NorthWood senior Will Stueve pounded the ball inside, scoring 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from both the field and the charity stripe.

“NorthWood does a nice job getting the ball inside,” West Noble coach Jim Best said. “When you let Zurcher, Wilkinson and Stueve get within four to five feet of the basket, they are hard to stop.

“We got the ball into spots where we wanted it, but couldn’t get the shots up over NorthWood’s size.”

Stueve said about his performance, “Teams concentrate on Jonathan and Zach and that leaves me 1-on-1 on the inside. Braxton (Linville) does such a great job getting the ball in to me.”

The sophomore point guard dished out nine assists.

The Panthers blocked seven shots in the game, five of them by Stueve.

NorthWood also controlled the boards, leading 31-15 in rebounds. Stueve snared 10 caroms and Zurcher eight.

The Panthers stretched the lead to 50-35 with 1:37 left in the third period only to have West Noble mounted one last charge. Senior Phil Miller drained a pair of 3-pointers before the end of the third to trim the deficit to 50-42. Classmate Drew Schermerhorn added another trey to begin the fourth and suddenly it was a 50-45 NW lead at 7:30 of the final period. NorthWood went on a 5-0 run and the closest the Chargers got the rest of the way was at 60-53 with 1:34 remaining. NorthWood sealed the win by going 8-of-8 on freebies.

“We played with a high amount of energy and with a sense of urgency,” Wolfe said. “One of our strengths all year has been the versatility of the players and the balance we have.”

Four of the five starters scored in double figures. Besides Zurcher, Wilkinson and Stueve; senior Tanner Farmwald chipped in with 11.

West Noble (18-5) also had four players in double figures with Schermerhorn netting 18, junior Waylon Richardson 12, Miller 11 and Moser 10.

“The kids played their hearts out and it’s going to be tough being in the locker room without the seniors,” Best said. “I can’t say enough about what they have meant to the program.”

NorthWood 75, West Noble 61

WEST NOBLE — Brandon Evans 2-7 0-0 6, Drew Schermerhorn 5-17 5-6 18, Brandon Moser 3-6 2-2 10, Phil Miller 3-5 2-2 11, Waylon Richardson 5-7 1-1 12, Kyler Warble 0-2 3-4 2, Landon Stover 0-0 0-0 0, Grant Moser 0-0 0-0 0, Carl Hartwell 0-0 0-0 0, Larry Nicholson 0-0 0-0 0, Drew Wiley 0-0 1-2 1. Team: 18-44 14-17 61

NORTHWOOD — Braxton Linville 0-3 2-2 2, Zach Zurcher 9-17 3-3 23, Tanner Farmwald 4-5 2-2 11, Jonathan Wilkinson 8-14 4-4 21, Will Stueve 6-10 6-10 18, Kyle McCoy 0-0 0-0 0, Dakyrion Fox 0-0 0-0 0, Cameron Simpson 0-0 0-0 0, Vincent Miranda 0-0 0-0 0, Chad Sellers 0-0 0-0 0, Travis Bear 0-0 0-0 0, Trey Bilinski 0-0 0-0 0. Team: 27-49 17-21 75

West Noble 14 13 15 19 — 61

NorthWood 19 19 12 25 — 75

3-point goals: West Noble 11-21 (Miller 3-4, Schermerhorn 3-6, bMoser 2-3, Evans 2-6, Richardson 1-1, Warble 0-1). NorthWood 4-9 (Zurcher 2-3, Farmwald 1-2, Wilkinson 1-2, Linville 0-2).

Fouls: West Noble 15, NorthWood 14.

Rebounds: West Noble 15 (bMoser 6). NorthWood 41 (Stueve 10, Zurcher 8, Linville 4, Wilkinson 4).

Assists: West Noble 8 (Evans 2, Schermerhorn 2, Warble 2). NorthWood 18 (Linville 9, Wilkinson 4).

Steals: West Noble 5 (Evans 3, Schermerhorn 2). NorthWood 8 (Linville 3, Wilkinson 2, Zurcher 2).

Turnovers: West Noble 9, NorthWood 9.

Officials: Trent Fine, Brett Ratcliffe, Mike DeBoy.