By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Anyone who is a fan of Indiana high school boys basketball and wasn’t in attendance Saturday night at the NorthWood Panther Pit missed a good old fashioned barn burner.
Six-six Concord senior Franko House put the Minutemen on his broad shoulders by scoring 13 of the team’s final 17 points as the Concord clinched an outright NLC championship with its 42-41 overtime win against the hometown NorthWood Panthers.
House netted the game-winner on the third try after twice rebounding his own misses with 1.9 seconds left in the extra session.
“Franko tried to take over the game early on and I think it hurt us,” Concord coach Steve Austin said. “He kept trying and that is the kind of play you want from a senior.”
House had game highs of 24 points and eight rebounds (six offensive).
“It took a long time,” House said about the game-winner. “I just kept jumping until it finally went in.”
It was only fitting that House began and ended the game the same way with a basket following an offensive rebound. He scored the first basket of the contest following a rebound at 7:19 of the first period.
“The difference in the game was House getting offensive rebounds and scoring,” NorthWood coach Aaron Wolfe said. “Rebounding is what won the game for Concord. Our guys battled the whole game. In the end we came up one rebound short. The final play by House was a microcosm of the game.”
The victory gave Concord its first outright NLC title since 2005.
“This was a huge win,” Austin said. “We didn’t want to share the title.”
Ever the teacher there was a lesson Austin wants his players to learn from this one.
“I felt our guys took NorthWood too lightly,” the coach said. “Not to take anything away from NorthWood, but we played about as bad as we can play. It was a night when things were not going our way. It would have been easy for us to pack it in. We fought through that. The guys have to learn we need to play hard all the time. I’m glad we didn’t have to lose a game to learn that lesson.”
The Minutemen did get off to a good start, taking a 6-0 lead by 5:52 of the first period. Six-five sophomore Filip Serwatka drained a 3-pointer at 6:28 and 6-2 junior Adam Glanders swished a free throw at 5:52.
NorthWood regrouped and when 6-5 junior Jonathan Wilkinson connected on a jumper from short range at 1:03 the Panthers had a 10-9 lead at the end of the quarter.
“We came out with a lot of intensity, but we couldn’t keep it going,” House said.
NorthWood went on to lead 22-19 at halftime and 31-25 entering the fourth period.
Six-two junior Tommy Klem’s jumper at 6:32 of the fourth gave the Panthers a 33-27 lead. Baskets by House at 6:00 and 4:36 pulled Concord to within one point (33-32). Six-five junior Will Stueve got the NorthWood lead back to three at 35-32 with a pair of tosses from the free-throw line at 4:01. The teams traded freebies from House and Stueve for a 36-33 Panther lead with 2:55 left to play.
Concord was able to knot the score at 36 when 6-3 senior DuWhan Alford drilled a trey at 1:24. It was his first basket of the game after missing his first five shots.
“DuWhan is a gamer,” Austin said. “He has hit some big shots for us this season and a lot of them have been after he has been struggling. He is a winner and knows what it takes to win.”
Concord had a chance to win it in regulation. NorthWood was setting up a play and 5-8 Concord junior Ramon Johnson stripped the ball with :19 remaining. Austin called time and set up a play but the shot was off the mark sending the game into overtime.
House scored a basket after another offensive rebound to begin the extra session. He also hit two free throws to put the Minutemen up 40-36 with 1:23 to go.
NorthWood got to within two points on a couple of freebies from 5-10 freshman Braxton Linville and took the lead at 41-40 on a ‘3’ by 5-9 junior Tanner Farmwald with :21 remaining only to have House top him.
Serwatka netted eight points and Johnson six for the Minutemen.
Zurcher scored 13 points and Klem 10 for the Panthers.
Both teams are back in action on Thursday with Concord (14-1, 6-0 NLC) hosts Northridge and NorthWood (11-5, 3-3) meeting Elkhart Memorial at North Side Gym in Elkhart.