Statistically North Marion’s overtime game Saturday was the team’s longest of the season. According to coach Chris Freeman, it was one of the shortest— at least in terms of effort.
“I told the boys I thought you played four minutes of basketball, the last four minutes of the fourth period,” he said.
The result? A 59-56 overtime loss to Petersburg.
“Simply we’ve got to put four periods together,” Freeman said. “There needs to be more energy and more of a sense of urgency. When they start bringing the effort for 32 minutes we'll see the wins come back. Until then, we're going to be a roller coaster. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down.”
The Huskies (3-4) opened the game at the peak of the coaster by outscoring the Vikings 14-9. But over the next two quarters, they watched the Petersburg take over their home court as they opened up a 13-point lead.
Freeman went to a trap defense in the fourth, which created numerous turnovers and points in transition. With a new-found sense of urgency, the Huskies outscored the Vikings 20-7 in the final period.
The lopsided fourth quarter came primarily from a furious late rally— the four minutes which Freeman alluded to. Matt Martin capped the run by sinking a deep 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.
“I heard coach say we need a three,” said Martin, who finished with nine points. “I just let it go and watched it go in."
But the improved defensive effort, the late rally and the clutch last-second shot were all for naught. The Vikings outscored North Marion 10-7 in the overtime period to take the victory.
After winning its first three games of the season, the Huskies have now lost four straight to drop a game below .500.
“I hope losing isn't getting to be a habit right now,” said senior Chase Banker, who led all scorers with 18 points.
He was one of three Huskies in double figures. Cody Opron put up 15 points and 12 rebounds for yet another double-double, and Cole Richards scored 12 points.
But North Marion is taking little consolation in individual achievements right now.
The main problem, Freeman said, is the Huskies are getting outplayed for large stretches. Saturday it was the middle two quarters. In the three games prior to Saturday, it was the beginning when they fell behind 21-6, 23-10 and 23-6.
“You’re not going to win too many basketball games like that,” Freeman said. “With five seniors they’re not supposed to come out and give that type of effort and be down. I don’t care who we’re playing and where we’re playing; that’s just not acceptable.”
The Huskies will look to get back on track later this week against Big 10 foes Preston and Bridgeport.
“It’s been a rough end of December,” Freeman said. “Hopefully we can come back and get things rolling as we get through the rest of this month.”
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.