BASKETBALL: Tigers win third straight

DOLA — As the basketball season enters the home stretch, Waynesfield-Goshen seems to be hitting its stride by garnering its third straight win after downing non-league opponent Hardin Northern, 64-46, Saturday night.

With the win, the Tigers improve to 5-8 on the season and keeps the Polar Bears winless on the year at 0-14.

Tiger head coach Ryan Taylor said the win is a big confidence booster for his squad who had struggled through an 8-game losing streak before stringing together this trio of wins.

“We’ve got three in a row on the W side so it gives us a boost in confidence and it helps out in practice and it helps morale so we got a big week coming up with our conference and things like so getting prepared.”

While the Tigers are in the midst of a modest win streak, Hardin Northern finds itself in a year of inexperience, inconsistency and zero wins. Varsity coach Jeff Hunt said the heart and effort are still there on a team that is looking for its first victory.

“They keep battling and that is all I can ask them to do,” Hunt said. “We got a couple of seniors and a bunch of kids who haven’t played any varsity basketball so we are still struggling with that.” 

Hunt, who’s team was coming off a game where they scored just 22 points, added that the team has made progress in some areas but he knows this process is going to take times.

Evidence of that progress was evident in the game. Despite the 18-point loss, Hardin Northern played like a team determined to get its first win. The Tigers, who appeared to heading for an easy blow-out early leading as much as 13 early in the second period saw that lead dwindle to as little as six in the third period before putting it away in the final stanza.

By controlling the boards throughout the game, especially on the offensive end, allowed the Tigers to inconsistent outside shooting in the first two periods, converting just 3-of-13 from the 3-point behind-the-arc. 

But those three treys, one by Jacob Frank and two from Dylan Litter, were complimented by the interior play of Lee Turner and Jake Risner who combined for 11 points to help the Tigers build a 22-9 lead at the 5:30 mark of the second period.

Despite enduring a long, winless season, credit Hardin Northern for mounting a comeback by outscoring the Tigers 15-8 for the remainder of the half. Hardin Northern’s Jacob Gossard spearheaded the offensive outburts with eight points including two clutch 3-pointers.

But in the opening three minutes of the second quarter, the Tigers curbed the Polar Bear’s momentum by going on a modest 7-2 and open a 37-2  lead at the 5:40 mark.

Hardin Northern’s last shot at denting the Tigers lead came with just under four minutes to play. After cutting the lead to nine, 41-32, and scoring the last three points, the Polar Bears owned control of the ball and eyeing the possibility of one last major run.

However, the Polar Bears were whistled for a charging call and a Tiger trey from Frank jumped the lead back to 12, which easily could have been reduced to seven or possibly six, and Hardin Northern never cut the lead to under double-digits the remainder of the game.

Taylor said a defensive adjustment also helped in stemming Hardin Northern’s offensive streak in the second half.

“That kind of threw a wrench into some of their rhythm and I think that helped us out and got our guys playing a little harder again and got some focus back for us and that helped us in the third and the guys finished it out.”

For the game, the Tigers outrebounded Hardin Northern 30-19. Frank, who had 15 points, also grabbed nine rebounds and teammate Turner, who had 12 points, snared eight caroms. Risner and Little both added 11, respectively.

“It is something we have been trying to stress,” said Taylor about his team’s rebounding this season. “That is one of the main things you can do to win so if you get rebounds and offensive rebounds you give yourself a second chance to shoot and that is something we are trying to get better at.”

Little chipped in 11 for the Tigers to round out a well-balanced scoring attack.

Gossard led the Polar Bear scoring parade with 14 points and teammate Poling collected 11 points.