Connor Terrill of North Union leaps for a jump shot from the top of the key during the first quarter of a Central Buckeye Conference contest against Graham on Friday. Terrill tallied 13 points in the 80-60 win to help North Union remain unbeaten. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
North Union’s boys basketball team used a relentless full press defense, a deep bench and aggressive offense to keep the Falcons of Graham grounded during a Central Buckeye Conference contest on Friday.
The 80-60 win put NU at 10-0 on the season.
The Wildcats came off the opening tip with one simple goal, which was to have fun.
“The kids love the way we are playing, the style,” said coach Brian Terrill.
“We have the depth to do it. It is just fun for everybody.
That style of play was aggressive on both sides of ball
The Cats founds themselves trailing early, thanks to a few unanswered buckets by the Falcons.
Terrill said his team was ready to pounce.
The Wildcats struck early with their full court defense that erased a 5-0 deficit with a pair of steals from Harley Day that turned into points.
The Wildcats kept the pressure high on the inbounds pass, leading to a few more steals.
NU went on an 8-0 run to take an 8-5 lead.
The Falcons had answers to NU’s fast-paced offense with some solid three-point shooting.
Graham hit three-for-four from beyond the arc to keep the game tigh.
NU took a 14-13 edge after the first quarter.
Terrill said his Wildcats have been expanding their press and leaning on a deep bench to keep fresh legs on the court.
“We are running three different presses and the odds to be able to be deep enough to match us and being able to run against three different presses, that is what we are banking on,” he said.
The depth was also felt in the first quarter as Terrill ran nine different players on the floor to help mix up his team’s makeup.
“I felt like early on some of our guys needed earlier breaks than others, so I tapped into the bench a little earlier than usual,” he said. “Once they goy their wind, things got back to normal. I thought we did a pretty good job.”
The second quarter saw more of the same from NU’s defense.
The defensive takeaways led to points.
Preston Crabtree scored nine of his team-leading 19 points and Gavin Webb came in to provide support with a three from the corner.
That enabled NU to go up 36-32 at the turn.
Terrill said his team has just been playing without overthinking the game.
“Everybody is just playing hard and fast,” he said. “For whatever reason, they are not thinking about things, they are just playing and having fun.”
The fast tempo continued into the third quarter.
The Cats shifted away from the press to try and slow down Graham’s three-point goals.
The effort didn’t pay off , however, as Graham nailed four treys in the quarter.
The Wildcats called on bench player Owen Davis in the third set. He picked up six of his 14 points in the quarter to help keep North Union climbing up the scoreboard. Connor Terrill also added six points to help NU take a 56-46 lead heading into the final stanza.
Terrill said his entire bench is full of weapons.
“Everybody who comes off the bench is a threat,” he said. “We don’t have guys coming of the bench who are one-hit wonders.
“We’ve got guys who score the ball,” said the coach. “We have three-point shooters and some of them are drivers.”
The final eight minutes saw the Cats revert back to the press.
That allowed them to widen the gap down the stretch.
Terrill said his Cats have a big challenge ahead of them in their next contest.
“We are probably playing the best team we have faced on Tuesday and it is away,” he said. “So we are going to need the best game we have had all year to keep it perfect.”
The Wildcats will travel to London to face off against the Red Raiders in CBC crossover action.
Crabtree 7-4-19, Davis 5-3-14, Day 6-1-13, Terrill 5-1-13, Vernon 4-3-11, A. Krebehenne 2-0-5, Webb 1-0-3, Feasel 1-0-2. Totals 31-12-80.
Three-point goals: Terrill 2, Crabtree 1, Davis 1, A. Krebehenne 1, Webb 1
Blankenship 6-2-18, Prince 3-1-10, Goddard 3-0-9, Black 4-0-8, Maurice 4-0-8, Vanscoy 2-1-5, Hannahs 1-0-2. Totals 23-4-60.
Three-point goals: Blankenship 4, Prince 3, Goddard 3.
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