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Clutch Wilkinson jumper keys NorthWood comeback

Wilkinson hits Panther game-winner
Ken Fox
Posted on Dec. 20, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

NAPPANEE — It’s a play Jonathan Wilkinson has run since middle school, but there was never as much on the line as there was on Friday, Dec. 20.

With his NorthWood team trailing by two, Wilkinson used a pick from classmate Will Stueve to get open and then drained a 3-point shot with 22 seconds left to give the Panthers their first lead of the night against Northern Lakes Conference rival Plymouth.

NorthWood then survived a 28-foot jumper by Plymouth freshman Nick Felke at the buzzer and beat the Pilgrims 56-55 in a great high school basketball game.

“I knew I was the first option on the play, but I felt confident because I knew the play so well,” Wilkinson said. “Will set a great pick for me and I was able to step-up and hit it.’’

Wilkinson’s shot put the finishing touches on a NorthWood comeback that seemed highly improbable in the first quarter as Plymouth ran its offense to perfection and grabbed an early 14-2 lead over the unbeaten Panthers.

But the key to the game may have been in the second quarter, when NorthWood coach Aaron Wolfe kept his starters in the game against a young Plymouth bench and saw his team cut the lead to just three by halftime.

“I’m very proud of the way our kids competed and really fought back after a rough start,’’ Wolfe said. “A big part of that was our experience, as most of these kids have been in this position before and they could draw on some successes we’ve had to not panic and just play.”

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