Feasting off of their relentless full-court zone press, the greedy Northmont Thunderbolts (5-0, 2-0) sent visiting Vandalia-Butler (1-6, 0-2) home without their dessert on Friday night, 95-53.
Contributor Alex Sator has more.
CLAYTON – Feasting off of their relentless full-court zone press, the greedy Northmont Thunderbolts (5-0, 2-0) sent visiting Vandalia-Butler (1-6, 0-2) home without their dessert on Friday night, 95-53.
The T-bolts had six players score in double figures and this early season GWOC-Central munchout was over long before the fat lady even showed up at the fieldhouse.
The Aviators made just 39.6 percent of their shots from the field.
“We got off to a really good start 21-7,” longtime Northmont head coach Jim Brown said after the game. “We wanted to play an up-tempo game so we came out and put pressure on them right away. Butler in the past has been a really patient team and we wanted to make them play a quicker game. We were able to do that. In fact, we were able to get them playing a lot quicker than I thought they would. They started putting up quick shots and turning the ball over. Then we were up 31-11 before the half and they made a little run on us to cut it to around ten points.
“I’ve been substituting a lot because we have a lot of depth,” Brown continued. “So, we go perhaps four minutes and rotate in new, fresh players. It was during one of those times that they made a run on us. After that we just exploded on them to take a 21-point lead at the half. Then we came out and scored the first ten points of the second half and it was pretty much over.”
The T-bolts were huge last year, and for a high school team they’re still tall. They start a 6-foot-8 center, Andrew Parrish, and a couple of 6-foot-4 kids in Davin Lewis and Jerontae Hunter. They still have some size but this year Northmont features more athleticism and they’ve been playing ten players.
Parrish – a first team all-GWOC and first team all-district player – is a big time athlete. He signed a letter of intent in the early signing period to play Division I ball with Akron, but he is just one part of the big picture at Northmont.
“I’ve always been the type of coach that tells his team that if you get in the top seven or eight players you are going to play,” Brown laughed. “If you have a back up point guard, a back up wing and a backup pivot you are fortunate, particularly in high school. Another thing is this year’s kids are versatile. They can play a lot of positions. That gives us a lot of flexibility as to what we want to do and how we want to do it.”
Historically, Brown has been a big believer in zone defense. This season brings a new twist to the crowd pleasing T-Bolt secret recipe.
“When we play zone this year I want us to pressure the ball. Tonight we started in full court man-to-man and switched to a full court zone. We played, maybe six defenses in total tonight, and you have to be a smart team to be able to do that.
“This is the first time in the eleven years we’ve been at Northmont that we’ve had the type of team that is tailored to the way that we like to coach. In college you can recruit players to match your system. In high school you have to play with what you have got. This year we have nine seniors on the team. If we are going to do it, we are going to do it now.”
Northmont has the luxury of having two accomplished point guards at their disposal.
“At point we split time between two players, sophomore Steve Newell and senior John Nussman,” Brown continued. “The most impressive thing about these guys is that through the first four games they had 23 assists and two turnovers.”
The other night against Springfield South’s notorious press they had one turnover for the whole game.
C.J. Barnett has been impressive, too. He is a big time football prospect (defensive back) and a 4.0 student. He has played extremely well in the last three games and had 16 points tonight. But it is on defense where he really makes things happen. In every measurable respect he has played very well.
But if it weren’t Barnett, it’d be someone else. That is how life is treating Jim Brown these days.
“It seems like it is a different guy coming through for us every night. The other night we had five players in double figures. Tonight we had six players in double figures, and three of them didn’t start the ball game. This year we are going to try to wear people down, and be consistent in the way that we play. ”
While the T-bolts bring everything but the kitchen sink on defense, they try to keep it simple when they have the ball.
“We are going to try to get the ball inside to Andrew or Davin, depending on the type of defense that is being played. Tonight we were playing against a zone and we got up 13-5 but three of our baskets were outside shots. I called timeout to get a message to my team. We were settling for three point shots without even looking to get the ball inside. I wasn’t happy about that.
“We want to exploit our advantage inside. That’s what we try to do.”
Nick Gillum led the head coach Steve Pelfrey’s Aviators in scoring with 14. A.J. Pacher joined him in double figures with 12. Derek Mutlu (6), C.J. Flinn (6), and Matt Birdsall (5) rounded out the scoring.
Barnett scored 16 (7 rebounds) for the winning T-bolts. Hunter (11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), Brandon Petty (10 points, 5 assists), Nate Ogletree (10), Logan Palsgrove (10) and Brian Tolle (11) also scored in double figures.
Parrish (four points, 5 rebounds) and Lewis (6 points, 5 rebounds) also made significant contributions to the winning cause.