OTTERVILLE — The Northwest Mustangs were carving up the second-seeded Green Ridge Tigers’ defense in the first quarter Saturday.
However, the Tigers’ defense got up to speed in the second quarter, and they rolled to a 57-42 win in the opening round of the Otterville Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament.
Northwest (3-7) jumped ahead 10-2 thanks to Cortlen Austin, who scored six of the Mustangs’ first 10 points.
The Mustangs routinely passed inside for easy baskets with Austin and Truman Leicher making layups.
Three-pointers by Axton Harding and Justin McCarthy quickly made Northwest’s lead disappear. McCarthy’s 3 tied the score at 10 with 3:10 to play.
After Austin scored on an inbounds play under the basket, Conner Dillon’s floater in the lane, Austin Story’s putback and McCarthy’s three free throws gave the Tigers a 19-14 lead after one quarter.
“We did a lot better job of pressuring the ball the second quarter on and tried to keep them out of their offense,” Green Ridge coach Jason Ollison said.
Green Ridge outscored the Mustangs 14-5 in the second quarter to go ahead 33-21 at halftime.
“We worked a lot on dealing with their pressure,” Northwest coach Justin Thomas said. “We had trouble once we broke the press and then turning the ball over. ... That’s really what killed us was that second quarter.”
The Tigers continued to build their lead in the third, outscoring Northwest 15-12. Austin and Andrew Underwood, who totaled 12 points, each made 3-pointers to keep the Mustangs in the game.
Austin led Northwest with 15 well-earned points.
“He doesn’t get an open shot hardly. He’s a good player,” Thomas said. “He knows he’s going to have a target on his back. He does a good job of sharing the ball, too.”
Story converted on a pair of post moves and blocked one of his four shots in the third.
“I told coach Bradley, my assistant, the other day, we’re not going to get many shot blockers like Austin in our lifetime, so we better use him this year,” Ollison said. “He gets up so quick and he’s still got a lot to learn about timing and stuff like that, but he’s really improving and maturing a lot.”
Story had three more blocks in the fourth, and the Tigers used a 9-0 run to push their lead to 20 (57-37) with 3:07 left.
The Tigers controlled the paint on offense and defense. They outrebounded Northwest 37-24 overall and 16-5 on offense.
“We’ve been working on extending our zones out. Man-to-man guys just funnel into the middle,” Ollison said of his team’s rebounding edge.
Eight Green Ridge players scored at least two points with Hayden Doane leading them with a game-high 17 points.
Green Ridge (7-3) will face Russellville at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the final round of pool play.
Northwest will take on Russellville in the second round at 2:30 p.m. Monday.