A change in defense away from the 2-3 zone paid off for Northwest, causing 13 turnovers in the first half alone as the Mustangs beat Otterville in the third-place game of the Otterville Tournament on Saturday.
“The 1-3-1 (zone) kept us moving the entire game,” said Northwest’s Truman Leicher.
Of the Mustangs’ 59 points in the game, 20 came off turnovers as Northwest worked to turn up the tempo.
“We’ve got some lengthy guys on our team so we’re just trying to get our hands in the passing lanes,” said Northwest coach Justin Wiskur. “We worked tirelessly on going transition, transition, transition. That’s the only way right now we can get everybody not named Cortlen (Austin) involved in the offense. When we do that, I think we’re a pretty decent team.”
The Mustangs were able to get players other than Austin involved. Leicher scored 17 points, including a seven-point second quarter and eight in the fourth. Chandler Crosswhite added nine points, including back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter. Eight different players scored for Northwest in the game.
Austin did score 10 points in the game, but did most of his damage in other ways, picking up five steals, dishing out assists, grabbing rebounds and standing in to take a charge.
“He’s bought into the defensive aspect of it,” Wiskur said. “The whole team has really. He knows that defense starts our transition. We have to play solid defense to start our transition game and if we don’t do that, it’s going to be a half-court game, which is not our strength. He’s a general on the floor. He’s like a second coach out there. He runs things and tells guys where they need to be and you couldn’t ask for a better guy to coach.”
Otterville struggled on offense even when they were able to set up in the halfcourt. The Eagles shot 6 of 23 from the field in the first half and 5 of 34 in the second half, at one point in the third and fourth quarters missing 13 shots in a row.
“They outplayed us,” said Otterville coach Steve Lasman. “They outrebounded us, outshot us. They deserved to win.”
After Northwest scored the first four points of the game, Otterville scored the next three with a Justin Halgren turn-around jumper and a Garret Lynn free throw, but Northwest pulled away after that. A Ryan Rafferty steal led to a layup by Austin. Moments later an Austin steal led to a layup by Crosswhite. Garren Powell then made it 13-7 with a 3-pointer.
After a Halgren jumper to open the second quarter, Northwest scored the next 12 points. Turnovers led to back-to-back layups from Leicher and Austin’s third steal of the quarter led to a Leicher layup and 3-point play.
“We’ve got two freshmen starting at guard, so we’re going to make turnovers,” Lasman said. “They’ll learn and they’ll play better.”
Otterville scored the first basket of the third quarter, a Franklin Oswald jumper, but Northwest answered with a 9-2 run.
A 3-pointer from Matthew Locke and a Leicher layup made it 44-22 Northwest after three quarters.
Oswald led Otterville with 11. Lynn scored 10.
Otterville will host Jamestown on Tuesday.
Northwest will visit Smithton on Tuesday.