By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Just in case it needed one, a pair of long-time Concord Minutemen put an exclamation point on a victory Thursday that wrapped up an undefeated NLC season and gave head coach Steve Austin the 400th win of his career.
Senior teammates DuWhan Alford and Franko House hooked on a slam dunk play with :55 left to play that capped off a 71-55 high school boys basketball win.
Alford lofted a lob pass for House who was streaking to the basket. House caught the pass and slammed the ball home much to the delight of the rambunctious Concord student section that unveiled a white sheet with 400th win painted on it and a green one with Congratulations Coach Austin on it.
“We have such great fans here. I had to sit down after those went up because I started to get tears in my eyes,” Austin said.
The victory came against one of his former players — Ronnie Thomas — who helped the coach notch a number of those wins when they were together at Northridge.
“I told Ronnie it doesn’t get any better than this,” he said. “This is my life.
“I’ve surrounded myself with good people over the years and 400 wins would not have happened without each one of them.”
Thomas said, “Concord is just too big and physical.”
Alford and House have been teammates for many years.
“We went to different grade schools, but we started playing on AAU teams back in fifth grade,” Alford said. “In junior high, we began playing football together.”
About the play.
“I knew when Franko passed me the ball he wanted it back,” Alford said.
House added, “I knew the way DuWhan slowed down the ball was coming back to me.”
The Minutemen finished the NLC season with a 7-0 mark, the fourth team in the last five seasons to accomplish the feat. Others were Northridge in 2008-09, Warsaw in 2009-10 and Elkhart Memorial last season.
“This was a weird year in the NLC,” Austin said. “To win the conference by three games is something.”
“We wanted to win this game to show how dominant we were in the NLC,” Alford said.
“It was great we could do that and get coach his 400th win. He is a great coach and I’m so proud of being here to do this for him.”
Austin considers the NLC crown to be the third championship his team has won this season.
“We set the season up like that with a number of goals,” the coach said. “When we won in the shootout down at Wapahani that was one. And the second was winning both games in the NIC-NLC shootout.”
Alford had on of his better games of the season with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“Coach has been telling me to be more attacking,” Alford said. “He thinks I’ve been holding back.”
All of this came one day after Alford signed a national letter of intent to play football at Eastern Michigan University.
Concord got off to good starts in both the first and third periods.
Concord jumped out to an 8-0 lead by 6:01 of the first before leading 16-14 entering the second. The Minutemen went on a 17-3 run in the third, taking a 54-32 lead with 3:32 left in the quarter.
“The third quarter was the story of the game,” Thomas said. “We played with our hearts in it the whole game except for a stretch in the third when our heads were not in it.”
The Minutemen went on to outscore the Raiders 21-5 in the third.
Sophomore Filip Serwatka tossed in 22 points to lead the Minutemen. House and junior Adam Glanders both finished with 13.
“I thought (senior) Joey Ganyard did a heck of a job on House,” Thomas said.
“Serwatka hurt us by crashing the boards and we let Glanders get to the rim too much.”
House also had three assists in the contest.
“This is an unselfish club,” House said. “We have a number of guys that can pass the ball.”
Concord 71, Northridge 55
NORTHRIDGE — Sam Ahonen 3-3 1-2 7, Joey Ganyard 1-5 2-2 4, Austin Moniot 2-10 3-4 9, Nate Ritchie 10-14 7-7 27, Pete Smith 3-9 0-0 8, Shannon Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Arick Doberenz 0-2 0-0 0, Tom Morrison 0-0 0-0 0. Team: 19-43 13-15 55
CONCORD— DuWhan Alford 5-9 2-2 13, Adam Glanders 5-7 2-3 13, Franko House 6-11 0-2 13, Ramon Johnson 0-0 3-5 3, Filip Serwatka 9-13 3-4 22, Jacob Kronk 1-2 0-0 2, Dakota Simon 1-1 0-0 2, Dylan Wynne 1-2 0-0 3. Team: 28-45 10-16 71
Northridge 14 15 5 21 — 55
Concord 16 21 21 13 — 71
3-point goals: Northridge 4-13 (Smith 2-6, Moniot 2-6, Ritchie 0-1). Concord 5-10 (Glanders 1-1, House 1-2, Serwatka 1-2, Wynne 1-2, Alford 1-3).
Fouls (fouled out): Northridge 14, Concord 15 (House).
Rebounds: Northridge 13 (Ritchie 4, Moniot 2, Smith 2). Concord 29 (House 7, Alford 6, Glanders 6, Serwatka 5).
Assists: Northridge 5 (Ahonen 3). Concord 12 (Alford 3, House 3).
Steals: Northridge 5 (Ahonen 2). Concord 7 (Glanders 4, Alford 3). Officials: Zach Sliwa, Sean Treece and Tim Mills. Records (next games): Concord (15-1, 7-0 NLC) hosts South Bend Riley Tuesday. Northridge (7-10, 3-4 NLC) at West Noble Saturday,
JV score: Concord won 33-28 (Concord: Danny McMahon 11, Trevor Wilmore 9, Korey Phillips 6, Brett Austin 4. Northridge: Brock Downey 14, Christian Bach 4, Payton Carson 4).