Kalamazoo Central finishes fast to remain unbeaten with victory at Portage NorthernBasketball  |
Portage – Kalamazoo Central overcame a slow start and defeated Portage Northern 55-35 in a Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference crossover on Tuesday at Northern.
Central (7-0) is ranked No. 2 in the Super 10 by State Champs. Northern slipped to 4-2.
In its last two games Central had difficulty with Lansing Everett (60-54) and Gary (IN) Bowman Academy (65-58), and for a half it had trouble with a pesky Northern squad.
Northern played tough defense and easily got through the Maroon Giants full-court press. Central was unable to find a rhythm in the first few minutes and were slow to react defensively. The Huskies showed patience offense and solid perimeter shooting enabled them to take an11-7 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Maroon Giants picked up the pace in the second quarter and led 31-24 at halftime.
Adjustments made at the half by Central coach Ramsey Nichols seemed to add life to the Maroon Giants. Central started with a flourish that did not stop until the final buzzer.
Nichols stated that he was “overall pleased with the defense”. He added that his players sometimes became too aggressive and the result was too many fouls being called (Central had just three fouls in the first half, nine in the second).
Nichols said the game was to stop the Huskies’ dribble drives, which they did. Central forced turnovers and blocked shots lead to fast break points and a tempo that the Huskies could not match.
Central increased its lead to 47-32 at the end of the third quarter.
“They wore us down,” Northern coach Jim Horn said. “They are nine, 10 deep, and we play seven guys.
“We need to build consistency and take care of the ball.”
The teams do not play again in the regular season but the possibility is there for them to meet in the districts.
“The key is to control the tempo,” Horn said. “And we just didn’t do it.”
With just over two minutes left in the game, Central’s leading scorer sophomore Isaiah Livers (18 points), took a hard spill after making a block shot and suffered a (left) shoulder injury. Livers came out of the game but the training staff stated he was icing the injury and it did not appear to be serious.