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Winning battle of unbeatens just adds to Rhodes’ celebration

Penn holds off Northridge 68-65, moves to 7-0. St. Joe cruises past Goshen.
Posted on Dec. 29, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 29, 2013 at 12:20 a.m.

MISHAWAKA — The date has long been for Al Rhodes an annual cause for a three-pronged celebration, so a hard-fought three-point boys basketball victory in a showdown of unbeatens fit right in for the Penn coach.

His Class 4A No. 6-rated Kingsmen held off Northridge 68-65 in NIC/NLC Shootout play Saturday, Dec. 28, at the Penn Palace.

“It’s a great day,” Rhodes said, alluding not just to the win, but also to the fact that he was celebrating wife Kathy’s birthday, the day the couple met and their 38th wedding anniversary. “It’s always a big day for us.”

Penn improved to 7-0 and moved to within two wins of matching the best start in school history.

The Raiders dropped to 7-1 on a night they were trying to match the second-best start in school history, but not until junior Pete Smith’s solid-look 3-pointer from the left wing bounced off the iron as time expired.

While Kingsmen junior Jordan Geist helped keep the game’s suspense going by missing four of nine free throws in the final 1:08, it was also Geist who made just enough to force Northridge to close with that trey try, and who kept battling through his struggles.

“He rebounded one of his misses (and turned that into an ensuing 2-of-2 trip to the line) and when he missed a first, he still would make a second, so he was competing,” Rhodes said. “He’s actually been an 80 percent free throw shooter, so we don’t mind putting him there.”

Competing was an operative word for the Penn coach.

“I thought both teams competed very hard, and I think Northridge’s team has come a long way in a year,” Rhodes said of the Raiders, who were 10-12 last winter. “It’s basically the same (personnel) we played last year (and beat 61-43 and 66-47).”

The clubs will meet at least twice again this season, the rematch scheduled for Jan. 21 at Northridge, and with both teams being in Class 4A, a third meeting could happen in the Michigan City Regional.

“If we’re playing a third time, that means we did something right,” Raider coach Ronnie Thomas said.

Northridge did plenty right Saturday as well, but not quite enough.

“Penn’s physicality bothered us a lot,” Thomas said. “We have kids beating themselves up in the locker room about the last play or two, but it wasn’t the last play. It was the physicality and the loose balls that we didn’t get our hands on. So we just have to show attention to those details and have a mentality where we don’t let them bump us off our catches and our cuts. We have to be sure and confident with the ball and have two hands on it. It’s crucial in games like this, but we will get better at that. I’m not worried about it.”

The Kingsmen piled up 11 steals, including four each by juniors Billy Doslak and Nate Miller, and Northridge finished with 16 turnovers to Penn’s 10.

Nevertheless, the contest was close much of the way.

The Raiders owned their largest lead at 21-12 late in the first quarter, but the Kingsmen answered with a 13-0 run for a 25-21 advantage just before the midway mark of the second period.

Penn took its largest lead at 56-43 on Ryan Lutz’s 3-pointer about 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, but Northridge chipped away, getting as close as 63-61 with 54 seconds remaining and 67-65 with 12 seconds left.

Each time, Geist answered with at least one made free throw, his last coming at 5.9 seconds for the final count.

The point guard finished with 13 points and a game-high five assists.

Lutz, a junior, led the winners’ balanced attack with 14 points, going 5-of-6 from the field with two 3-pointers, while Doslak scored 11 points, and Miller and Christian Wittendorf nine points apiece.

Raider senior Nate Ritchie, coming off a career-high 40 points a night earlier, netted a game-high 24.

Junior Tom Morrison and sophomore Kurtis Hochstetler contributed 13 each, while Smith netted 11.

Earlier, South Bend St. Joseph rolled to a 77-53 win over Goshen to improve to 3-2.

“I’m disappointed,” said Redskin coach Brian Bechtel, whose club also fell 64-34 to Penn the previous night.

“They had great moves around the basket and drove it hard,” Bechtel said of the Indians, “but we took zero charges, we didn’t shut down straight driving lines. I thought we played with a lack of desire on the defensive end. Desire should never be difficult. Defensive desire is a must, whether you’re supposed to win or not supposed to win, whether you’re up five, down five, up 20, down 20. There’s no excuse not to have that, and against a team that is as offensively as potent as they are, you at least have to have that. We weren’t willing to do little things on the defensive end and our communication’s been terrible for two games now.”

Junior Austin Woolett led Goshen (4-5) with 15 points and nine rebounds.

St. Joe junior Greenan Sullivan went 7-of-7 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and 5-of-5 at the line on his way to a game-high 23 points.

NIC/NLC Shootout

(At Penn)

SB ST. JOSEPH 77, GOSHEN 53

Goshen — Austin Woolett 7-12 1-2 15, Deric Haynes 2-8 1-3 5, DJ Ambrose 0-1 0-0 0, Jack Gingerich 1-5 0-1 2, Isaac Huerta 3-5 1-2 8, Alex Hartsough 1-2 0-0 2, Alex Haney 3-8 2-3 8, Cam Kline 1-2 1-1 3, Colton Potter 1-2 2-2 4, Trevor Weldy 3-3 0-0 6, Oliver Nafziger 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-49 (.449) 8-14 (.571) 53.

St. Joseph — Matt Monserez 5-7 2-2 13, Keaton Wieschhaus 1-4 1-2 3, Ryan Wobbe 5-9 0-2 10, Matt Gergly 1-1 0-0 3, Greenan Sullivan 7-7 5-5 23, Anthony Smiley 3-7 2-2 8, Keaton Oates 0-3 0-0 0, Mark Madden 2-2 1-2 5, West Short 0-0 0-0 0, Dom Ferro 1-3 0-0 3, Tevin Arnold 0-1 0-0 0, Haki Woods 1-1 0-0 2, Brendan Connelly 1-2 1-1 3, Ben Clark 0-1 4-4 4, Conner Futa 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 27-48 (.563) 16-22 (.727) 77.

Scoring By Quarters

Goshen 10 16 9 18 — 53

St. Joseph 15 24 22 16 — 77

3-point goals: Goshen (1-4) — Huerta 1-1; St. Joseph (7-14) — Sullivan 4-4, Gergly 1-1, Monserez 1-2, Ferro 1-2.

Rebounds: Goshen (25) — Woolett 9, Haney 5; St. Joseph (27) — Monserez 9, Smiley 4.

Assists: Goshen (10) — Gingerich 2, Huerta 2, Haney 2; St. Joseph (16) — Monserez 4, Short 3.

Steals: Goshen (1) — Potter; St. Joseph (7) — Smiley 4.

Turnovers: Goshen 15, St. Joseph 9.

Fouls: Goshen 16, St. Joseph 15. Fouled out — none.

Officials: Beau Dunfee, Tim Milles, David Wolford.

Records: St. Joseph 3-2, Goshen 4-5.

Next: MC Marquette at SB St. Joseph Friday, Jan. 3; Goshen at Concord Friday, Jan. 10.

penn 68, NORTHRIDGE 65

Northridge — Nate Ritchie 6-11 11-13 24, Tom Morrison 3-6 5-6 13, Christian Bach 0-1 0-0 0, Pete Smith 5-12 0-0 11, Sam Ahonen 2-4 0-0 4, Kurtis Hochstetler 2-5 7-7 13, Colin Utley 0-4 0-0 0, Payton Carson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-43 (.419) 23-36 (.885) 65.

Penn — Christian Wittendorf 2-9 5-5 9, Billy Doslak 4-12 2-2 11, Andrew Kimm 3-3 2-2 8, Ryan Lutz 5-6 2-2 14, Jordan Geist 3-9 6-11 13, Nate Miller 2-4 4-5 9, Taylor Brooks 2-3 0-0 4, Isaiah Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Chaffee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-47 (.447) 21-27 (.778) 68.

Scoring By Quarters

Northridge 21 8 12 24 — 65

Penn 16 16 19 17 — 68

3-point goals: Northridge (6-15) — Hochstetler 2-2, Morrison 2-4, Ritchie 1-3, Smith 1-4; Penn (5-12) — Lutz 2-3, Geist 1-2, Miller 1-3, Doslak 1-4.

Rebounds: Northridge (27) — Bach 5, Smith 5, Hochstetler 5, Ritchie 4; Penn (26) — Wittendorf 5, Kimm 5, Lutz 4, Geist 4.

Assists: Northridge (10) — Smith 4; Penn (14) — Geist 5, Doslak 3.

Steals: Northridge (7) — Ritchie 2, Smith 2; Penn (11) — Doslak 4, Miller 4.

Turnovers: Northridge 16, Penn 10.

Fouls: Northridge 22, Penn 20. Fouled out — Ahonen (5:09, 4th quarter), Hochstetler (0:45, 4th), Doslak (0:34, 4th).

Officials: John Goss, Larry Samano, Mike Waisnora.

Records: Northridge 7-1, Penn 7-0.

Next: Plymouth at Penn Thursday, Jan. 2; FW South at Northridge Saturday, Jan. 4 (girl/boy varsity DH, beginning with 5 p.m. girls game).


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