NAPPANEE — Vinny Miranda owned Thursday night's boys high school basketball game to about the same degree he owns a practice chart posted in the NorthWood locker room.
The Panther senior guard struck for a career-high 38 points as Class 3A top-ranked NorthWood took a 60-57 thriller over young-but-game Westview at The Pit.
Miranda did it all — even when he didn't mean to — faciliating the final suspense by missing his final free throw with 15 seconds left, after having gone 12-of-12 at the line, to fittingly make this contest come down to one possession.
Warrior sophomore Cody Collyer missed the ensuing 3-point try to tie, though, and the Panthers' Trey Bilinski hauled in the final rebound shortly ahead of the final horn.
"I'll definitely hear from my (older) brothers about that," Miranda said with a smile of his miss. "That's their big thing, the free throws. I mean, they'll give me the 'good game, but, you know, you could've made that free throw.'"
As if Miranda didn't glisten without it. His 38 points came on 12-of-22 from the field with a pair of triples to go with that 12-of-13 at the line. He continually riddled the Westview defense with an assortment of jab-step moves and catch-and-release shots.
NorthWood improved to 2-0 while sending the 2A No. 10 Warriors — who started four sophomores and a freshman — to their first loss at 3-1.
"Vincent was special tonight," Panther coach Aaron Wolfe said. "He shot the ball well, had a difficult assignment on defense (Elijah Hales), expended a lot of energy rebounding (grabbing six) and led our basketball team. I also thought our team did a good job of understanding that he was in a zone. They were looking for him consistently, and he carried us at times."
"Miranda was awesome," Westview coach Rob Yoder concurred. "He went crazy."
It's a crazy that doesn't just begin when game night arrives, rather a crazy born of a star who doesn't mind practice.
NorthWood charts in detail and posts on a board how its players perform in workouts, and in every one of the four weeks leading into this one, Miranda has been named the Panthers' Practice Player of the Week.
"I've never been one who can just come out and play well," Miranda explained. "I gotta put the time in. Dating back to freshman year, my shot wasn't all there, so I had to work on that a lot, and even today, if I don't work on it consistently every day, it might not be there the next day."
It was enough there Thursday that Miranda was able to help rescue NorthWood from a quick 7-0 hole.
That start belied how tight the game would become. The Panthers caught up by early in the second quarter at 14-14. There would be six more ties and seven lead changes.
"We beat a difficult team to play against," Wolfe said.
"Our kids played hard, made a lot of plays," Yoder said, "but I thought we missed some opportunities to execute down the stretch — wrapping up rebounds, a couple turnovers, missed free throws — just things that when we're a little more toughened, we might get over the hump against a really good team like NorthWood."
Hales, one of the several Warrior sophomores, scored 21 points and dealt a game-high six assists. Collyer added 13 points and seven rebounds, while freshman Charlie Yoder had eight of his nine points in the closing quarter to go with four assists.
Junior Brad Delio followed Miranda for the Panthers with eight points, while senior Luke Zurcher grabbed a game-high eight boards.
NorthWood, which won for the 29th time in its last 30 home games dating to late in the 2013-14 season, committed just four turnovers to Westview's eight, and hit 14-of-17 free throws to the visitors' 9-of-16.
"You could tell last year they were going to become a very, very good basketball team, and they have," Wolfe said of the Warriors. "They're going to be a team that's fun to watch for about 21 out of 22 games the next few years."
NORTHWOOD 60, WESTVIEW 57
Westview: Cody Collyer 6-10 0-0 13, Josh Hostetler 2-2 2-2 6, Nic Rensberger 4-6 0-1 8, Charlie Yoder 3-12 3-7 9, Elijah Hales 7-11 4-6 21, Nolin Sharick 0-1 0-0 0, Lucas Yoder 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 22-45 (.489) 9-16 (.563) 57.
NorthWood: Trey Bilinski 2-7 1-2 5, Caleb Lung 1-3 0-0 2, Caleb Glick 1-2 0-0 2, Luke Zurcher 2-7 1-2 5, Vinny Miranda 12-22 12-13 38, Brad Delio 3-5 0-0 8, DeAndre Smart 0-0-0 0. Totals: 21-46 (.457) 14-17 (.824) 60.
Scoring By Quarters
3-point goals: Westview (4-11) - Hales 3-4, Collyer 1-2; NorthWood (4-13) - Delio 2-3, Miranda 2-9.
Rebounds: Westview (26) - Collyer 7, Rensberger 5, Hales 5; NorthWood (25) - Zucher 8, Miranda 6.
Assists: Westview (15) - Hales 6, C. Yoder 4; NorthWood (9) - Bilinski 3, Lung 3.
Steals: Westview (1) - C. Yoder; NorthWood (4) - Lung, Glick, Miranda, Delio.
Turnovers: Westview 8; NorthWood 4.
Fouls: Westview 16; NorthWood 14. Fouled out - none.
Records: Westview 3-1, NorthWood 2-0.
Next: Central Noble at Westview, NorthWood at Fairfield, both Saturday.
JV score: NorthWood 57, Westview 23. Top scorers: NorthWood - Jason Borkholder 13, Luke Holland 9; Westview - Dennis Wingard 13. JV records: NorthWood 2-0, Westview 3-1.