MIDDLEBURY – You can usually expect a tightly contested, down-to-the-wire basketball game when Westview and Northridge get together.
Last year’s contest in Emma went to triple overtime before Westview emerged victorious, 81-73.
This season’s edition of a Michiana regional rivalry was no exception, as Northridge held on down the stretch for a 53-50 win in the nonconference win.
Northridge coach Ronnie Thomas was pleased to see his team hold on down the stretch – and go to 2-0.
But the Raiders have some things to work on defensively, Thomas said.
“The other night (against Elkhart Central), we couldn’t stop penetration,” Thomas said. “Tonight, we had trouble inside.”
Thomas was primarily referring to Westview forward Chandler Aspy, who had 25 points.
Thomas was more pleased with the Raiders’ defensive efforts on Westview guard Jordyn Bontrager - which were led by Payton Carson and Pete Smith. The pair helped limit the usually prolific Bontrager to 11 points.
Northridge put an early stamp on this one. Leading 7-5 early in the opening stanza, the Raiders pushed out to a 16-9 lead before Westview closed the quarter on a quick 5-1 burst to trail just 17-14 at the first stop.
Westview opened the second quarter with a 6-3 surge to tie the contest at 20, but the Raiders weathered that Warrior push and responded with a 10-3 run over the remainder of the period to take a 30-23 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
The Raiders were able to hold serve with the Warriors in the third and led 42-34 with eight pivotal minutes to play.
Would the Warriors have a last run in them?
Yes, they would.
Northridge pushed out to a 12-point lead – its biggest of the night - at 52-40 with about three minutes remaining in regulation.
But Westview ripped off six straight points to halve the Raider lead to 52-46 with 1:30 left and force a Northridge timeout.
The run continued with a Bontrager drive to the rack, foul and the and-one to pull the Warriors to within a bucket at 52-50 with 36 ticks remaining.
The Raiders missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and the Warriors had a chance to tie. But Bontrager’s shot in the lane was off the mark, and Northridge’s Nate Ritchie got the rebound and was promptly fouled. Ritchie converted just one of his charity tosses, and trailing 53-50, the Warriors had a chance at a game-tying 3-pointer. But Westview could not get a good look at the shot, and the Raiders got the rebound.
Westview coach Rob Yoder said his team is battling injuries but had no excuses for the loss.
“We’ve healing, but we have to improve, and we will improve,” Yoder said.
Ritchie had 21 points to lead the Raiders. Sam Ahonen had 13.
Ritchie said he’s having to adjust to increased attention from opposing defenses this season. It’s a work in progress, the Northridge senior standout said.
“The main thing is that I have to remember I have guys around me who can help,” Ritchie said. “We’ve got shooters, and I don’t have to do it all myself inside.”
Earlier, Northridge was a 44-36 winner in the J.V. contest. Eric Burgess led the J.V. Raiders with 16 points. Dylan Sandy added 13.
Lucas Yoder led Westview’s jayvees with 11 points. Tim Miller and Kade Miller had seven apiece.
The Raiders travel to South Bend Riley on Friday night. Westview hosts Churubusco, also Friday night.
Follow Goshen News sports editor David Vantress on Twitter at dvantress_tgn.