By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Coming off a big win in the NLC on Friday night, first-year Northridge High School boys basketball coach Ronnie Thomas wanted another victory out of his Raiders Saturday night in a non-conference game at Fairfield.
The young coach got what he wanted as Northridge held off a late rally by the host Falcons for a 56-47 victory.
Northridge recorded a 51-49 overtime win against Plymouth on Friday.
“We knew this would be a close game. Fairfield has improved every time we have seen them play,” Thomas said. “Fairfield is a big, athletic team so we expected this to be a physical game.”
The Falcons after trailing 29-17 at halftime closed the gap to one point (46-45 with 2:42 remaining) on a basket by 6-2 sophomore Joe Line.
“Northridge made some plays down the stretch,” Fairfield coach Troy Beachy said. “We just dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half. Our effort was much better in the second half. What the kids need to understand is we need to play like that the whole game. Due to the way we played in the first half we were never able to get over the hump in the second.”
Following a free throw by 6-7 junior Nate Ritchie the Raiders got a huge basket from 6-0 junior Sam Ahonen after an offensive rebound with 1:52 left to play.
“Sam played a great game,” Thomas said.
Ahonen finished the game with eight points and four rebounds.
“Northridge got an extra rebound and scored on the putback,” Beachy said. “That was huge.”
The rebound basket by Ahonen gave the Raiders a 49-45 lead at 1:52 of the fourth quarter. Fairfield got to within two points on a pair of tosses from the free-throw line by 6-2 senior Garrett Scott. Ahonen then swished two freebies at :44 and Ritchie closed the game out with the final five points,
One of the differences in the game was at the charity stripe. The Raiders got to the line 22 times and made 18 (81.8 percent) while Fairfield went to the stripe nine times and made eight (88.9).
The Falcons got back into the game in part by using a 2-3 zone.
“A zone defense tends to slow you down,” Thomas said.
The back line of Fairfield zone consisted of 6-2 senior Garrett Scott, 6-5 senior Brad Lantz and 6-3 senior Alex Miller.
“We put our three seniors in looking for leadership and they led us back into the game,” Beachy said. “Late in the game Ritchie found some ways of attacking the zone and getting to the foul line. He is a nice player.”
“Miller is a tough player for us to stop. We don’t have anyone with his girth,” Thomas said.
Ritchie tossed in a game-high 22 points. He was 12-of-14 from the free-throw line. Ritchie also grabbed seven rebounds as the Raiders outrebounded the Falcons 23-17.
“Ritchie is turning into more of a solid player,” Thomas said. “He is seeing things on the floor better and his rebounding has improved over the last few games. He is more under control and tonight he made big plays when we needed them.”
Taking better care of the ball in the second half was another reason the Falcons got back into the contest. Fairfield finished with 16 turnovers, but 11 of them were in the opening half.
“We were making better choices, better passes and were more aware of situations on the floor,” Beachy said. “We need to step up and hit a few more shots and also play more physical.”
Scott scored 15 points and Line 10 to pace the Falcons. Both of them were key to the fourth-period comeback as Scott netted nine of his points in the final period and Line tossed in six of his.
“They did a better job of attacking the basket in the second half,” Beachy said.
Northridge 56, Fairfield 47
NORTHRIDGE —Nate Ritchie 5-13 12-14 22, Joey Ganyard 5-10 0-0 11, Sam Ahonen 1-2 6-8 8, Austin Moniot 2-4 0-0 5, Pete Smith 2-5 0-0 5, Tom Morrison 1-2 0-0 3, Arick Doberenz 1-1 0-0 2, Christian Bach 0-0 0-0 0, Shannon Baker 0-0 0-0 0. Team: 17-37 18-22 56
FAIRFIELD — Garrett Scott 6-9 3-3 15, Joe Line 5-10 0-0 10, Josh Stephens 3-4 0-0 9, John Stack 2-3 0-0 6, Alex Miller 1-1 3-4 5, Marcus Rodes 0-6 2-2 2, Brad Lantz 0-0 0-0 0, Nate Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Mitch DeWitt 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas Martin 0-0 0-0 0. Team: 17-39 8-9 47
Northridge 22 7 8 19 — 56
Fairfield 12 5 14 16 — 47
3-point goals: Northridge 4-11 (Ganyard 1-1, Moniot 1-2, Morrison 1-2, Smith 1-4, Ritchie 0-2). Fairfield 5-14 (Stephens 3-4, Stack 2-3, Miller 0-1, Line 0-2). Rodes 0-4
Fouls: Northridge 9, Fairfield 16. Technical: Northridge (score book error).
Rebounds: Northridge 23 (Ritchie 7, Ahonen 4, Moniot 4). Fairfield 17 (Lantz 3, Rodes 3).
Assists: Northridge 9 (Ganyard 4, Ahonen 2, Moniot 2). Fairfield 6 (Rodes 4).
Steals: Northridge 7 (Ganyard 4, Moniot 2). Fairfield 5 (DeWitt 2).
Turnovers: Northridge 16, Fairfield 16.
Officials: Mark McCammon, Bruce Klonowski and Karl Abraham.
Records (next games): Northridge (7-9) at Wawasee next Saturday. Fairfield (8-10) hosts Fremont Thursday, Feb. 7.
JV score: Northridge won 44-33. (Northridge: Kurtis Hochstetler 13, Payton Carson 8, Colin Utley 6, Derek Woolsey 6. Fairfield: Josh Stephens 11, Kegan Showalter 7, Brock Geoglein 5, Clay Bontrager 4).