The Northfield boys basketball team was coming off a tough loss to Columbia City and were hosting #20 Bluffton in a 2A battle Saturday night. Coach Moe Smedley knew the Tigers had a slue of six footers that were hard to defend and the Norse would have to be ready for the pressure.
In a game that had 29 ties or lead changes, it came down to some last second heroics by a couple Norse players to lift the Norse to a 48-47 upset win over the Tigers.
It took nearly three and half minutes for either team to score as both defenses were applying heavy pressure at the top of the key. Bluffton broke the ice with 4:42 remaining to take a 2-0 lead. Adam Roser would get the first Norse bucket to tie the score and two Ryan Keaffaber free throws gave the Norse the lead. With Tanner Wilcox out with a back injury, sophomore Carter Frieden would get the start and came up big early. Frieden would hit the next two Northfield buckets, one a three pointer to give Northfield a 9-4 lead. Bluffton would answer with a three, before a Keaffaber bucket and the Norse led 11-9 after one.
The tempo would pick up in the second quarter, which is not what coach Smedley wanted, but senior leaders Collin Dawes and Ryan Keaffaber would keep the Norse hanging with the Tigers. The quarter would have seven lead changes and five ties before the dust settled. Dawes would catch fire after a slow start to score 10 points in the quarter, while Keaffaber chipped in 6 and the Norse trailed 29-27 at the half.
Coming out of haftime the Norse wanted to get the tempo of the game back to their liking and went to a four corner offense, working the ball outside with the guards until a backdoor or drive presented its self. Ryan Keaffaber would score the first bucket of the quarter to tie the score at 29. Bluffton answered and that answer was answered by Dawes. The Tigers would take a 32-31 lead and for the next three minutes no points were scored. Collin Dawes traded buckets with the Tigers to make it 34-33 Bluffton when Adam Roser would drain a three that was followed by a bucket from Keaffaber and quickly the Norse led 38-34. Bluffton would hit a three with .35 remaining to make it 38-37 which would be the score after three quarters.
After the first three quarters the fourth would not disappoint. Bluffton hit a free throw to tie the score and then a bucket to take a 40-38 lead. Ryan Keaffaber would answer the call with an old fashion three point play to give Northfield the lead back at 41-40. In the see saw battle, Bluffton would hit again to go up 42-41. Collin Dawes would then find the bucket for the seventh time and was followed by free throws from Carter Frieden and Adam Roser to give the Norse a 45-42 lead with 2:37 to play. The Tigers were not going away and scored with 1:10 left to make it 45-44. Bluffton would increase the defensive pressure to force a Northfield turnover and with 15.0 nailed a three pointer to go up 47-45. Not wanting to call a time out to let Bluffton set up a defense, the Norse raced down the floor, hitting Collin Dawes with a pass on the left baseline just inside the three point line. Dawes calmly looked down, stepped behind the line and drained a three with 3.4 seconds remaining to give Northfield a 48-47 lead. Bluffton called time out to set up a full court play, that was ruined when Ryan Keaffaber stepped in to steal the inbounds pass and the Norse survived 48-47.
Collin Dawes led the Norse with 19 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals. Ryan Keaffaber added 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assist, 2 steals. Carter Frieden had 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals. Adam Roser had 6 points, 1 rebound, 3 assist, 1 steal. Tanner Wilcox had 2 rebounds. Marcus Kroh had 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block.
Coach Moe Smedley ” Defense in the second half was the differnce, plus we adjusted to their jump defense. It was a total team effort. I am very proud of Carter Frieden.”
The junior varsity beat Bluffton 25-17.
Nick Ridenour and Hunter Louden led with 6 points each. Jarred Short and Heath Miller added 4 points each, Austin Burns 3 and Noah Shear 2.