Monday night’s non-conference boys basketball clash between Northeast and North Cedar did not begin as well the Rebels hoped it would.
“The start was pretty terrible actually,” Northeast coach Travis Eversmeyer said. “I think at the start of the game, we were like, ‘Wow, they’re really big.’ We were so shellshocked. Then when we realized we could play with them, we were fine the rest of the night.”
North Cedar, ranked eighth in Class 2A, scored 14 of the first 16 points and held the Rebels without a field goal for the first five minutes.
Northeast (10-3) got no closer than five points in North Cedar’s 59-46 win.
North Cedar (10-2) made four layups while it built its early cushion, and the Rebels turned the ball over on four of its first six possessions.
But the Rebels didn’t let the game become a blowout. After falling behind 19-4, they closed the quarter on a 4-0 run. Bo Lingle knocked down a jumper and Ben Hildebrandt got a steal and a fastbreak layin to close the margin to 11 at the end of the quarter.
Northeast picked up its defensive intensity in the second half, forcing the Knights to commit 10 turnovers after forcing three in the first half.
“I think it was just a mentally grinding game,” Eversmeyer said. “Eventually they kind of broke down. A lot of it was probably them getting tired and our physicalness and getting after them. We told the kids at halftime, ‘We’ve got to be tougher and we’ve got to be the bully.’ I thought we did that in the second half.”
North Cedar made only two field goals in the second half, a 3-pointer by Kyle Jackson 1:53 into the third quarter and a 3-pointer by Seth Bendixen with 4:48 to play in the game.
But the Knights shot 24-of-33 from the free-throw line after intermission.
Standout senior Jordan Hay led the parade to the line shooting 18 second-half foul shots, making 14 of them. He scored a game-high 26 points, 16 from the line.
“It was a rough game, definitely,” Eversmeyer said. “That was kind of our gameplan to not let him do whatever he wants. We were going to rough him up a little and see how he handled it. He knocked down his free throws.”
Mitchell Haferbier, Northeast’s standout senior, picked up his offense in the second half. After scoring six points in the first half, he scored 17 in the second half, 11 in the third quarter.
“We kind of isolated him,” Eversmeyer said. “I thought the guards pushed the ball finally and ran a little bit more in the second half. It looked like North Cedar got a little tired and we got some easy runouts to get him going. Then we ran our isolation play for him to face up from the elbow and attack that way. He’s really good at that.”
Bendixen’s fourth quarter 3-pointer put North Cedar ahead 51-40, but the Rebels had one charge left. Haferbier and Ben Lingle each made layups off assists from Hildebrandt after he came up with a steal and Haferbier made two of four free throws during a 6-0 Northeast run. The Rebels trailed 51-46 with 3:10 to play.
I was proud to be down only five points with the start that we had and to have a chance to really cut it down with three minutes left,” Eversmeyer said.
But Northeast did not score again. The Knights slowed the tempo and shot 8-of-10 from the free-throw line over the final two minutes.
After North Cedar’s 19-4 lead, the Rebels outscored the Knights 42-40.
NORTH CEDAR 59, NORTHEAST 46
NORTH CEDAR (10-2) — Josh Sander 1 0-0 2, Marshall Shedeck 2 0-0 4, Josh Kintzel 2 3-5 8, Jacob Hay 0 2-2 2, Kyle Jackson 1 0-0 3, Jordan Hay 5 16-22 26, Seth Bendixen 3 3-6 12, Jayden Johnson 0 2-4 2, Greg Sloan 0 0-0 0, Fabio Zehnder 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 26-39 59.
NORTHEAST (10-3) — Ben Hildebrandt 1 1-2 3, Bo Lingle 1 3-4 5, Mitchell Haferbier 7 8-12 23, Matt Lorenzen 0 0-0 0, Ben Lingle 3 1-2 7, Matt Cain 0 0-0 0, Mitchell Schumacher 0 0-0 0, Kaylon Trenkamp 0 0-0 0, DJ Fulton 2 4-4 8, Tait Wilson 0 0-0 0, Austin Shoemaker 0 0-0 0, Shawn Banowetz 0 0-0 0, Matthew Hoffman 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 17-24 46.
North Cedar 19 10 14 16 — 59
Northeast 8 12 15 11 — 46
3-point goals — North Cedar 5 (Bendixen 3, Kintzel, Jackson); Northeast 1 (Haferbier). Total fouls — North Cedar 18; Northeast 29. Fouled out — Cain, Be. Lingle.