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Northwestern Faces Smithville

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mark Alberts Jr.

Northwestern won the Wayne County Athletic League title last season and they are off to a 1-0 start heading into a league game at home Friday night against Smithville.

They beat Chippewa (73-55) last week in their league opener. That is their only win so far, but coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they have played a very tough schedule and have been competitive. “We won our first league and it also happened to be at home and that is nice. We lost three other close games to good non-league teams. One team is undefeated in Woodridge and Clear Fork is 3-1 and Triway is 2-1. When you are tied with a minute to go or less in two of those you have a chance to win. It was nice to get off to that good start against Chippewa in the league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “With Smithville coming in it is definitely going to be a challenge. They are picked to be one of the front runners in the league with Rittman. We definitely have a challenge in front of us on Friday night.”

Smithville (1-2,0-1) lost last week to Waynedale (60-49) in their league opener. Alberts says they have two really outstanding players. “They have two really good players and they probably do 70 percent of their scoring. Jacob Reed is a 6’4” returning post-forward. He likes to shoot the three, posts up a little bit, jumps well. He was first team all league last year. They have a point guard named Trevor Pertee, a solid point guard and he averaged 15 last year. Jacob Reed was picked as the number one player in the Daily Record area. Our guys are definitely excited to play against him,” he said.

Alberts says their plan Friday night is two limit the impact of Reed and Pertee without letting the other Smithies go crazy on them. “We have to make sure we control those two guys. You always go into it wanting to control good players, but they do so much scoring we want to make it tough on them. Waynedale beat them last week and held them to 49 points and they had half of those if not more. So, we want to control them, but not let the other guys have big games. If they do that then you are in trouble. Offensively we are not sure what they are going to do. They beat Orrville playing a certain way and I am kind of anxious to see how they play us,” said Alberts.

Published 12/15/17

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Northwestern Ready to Move Forward

Northwestern is really just a whisker away from being 2-0, but the Huskies are instead 0-2 and looking for their first win in their Wayne County Athletic League opener against Chippewa on Friday night.

After leading after the first quarter in their opener against Wooster Triway they lost to the Titians (56-49) on the road.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says it was a game they had a good chance to win. “Against Triway we are up 20-11 after the first quarter and we have 10 fouls on us in the first quarter and they precede to call seven more on us in the second and I have four starters setting on the bench, two of them with three and two of them with two and another guy with two that had to play. That was not how we wanted to start and we got outscored in that second quarter 19-3,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Now, to start the day my 6’5” 250 pound sophomore center, who was going to be our sixth man got suspended from school and missed that game and proceeded to miss the Clear Fork game. That was another bit of adversity our kids had to adjust to. I was really proud how we fought back and tied it at 49 with a 1:40 to go and give one of their boys credit, he buried a big three and then we missed a couple of threes and turned it over and fouled with like 10 seconds left.”

It was really a pretty similar game in a (68-64) loss to Clear Fork on Saturday night. Alberts says they were right there in the end. “The same thing happened against Clear Fork. We played really well in the first, third and fourth quarter and didn’t play well in the second quarter. We ended up being down eight at halftime after being outscored by nine in the second. We fought back and fought back and tied the game at 64. There was a phantom call with 14 seconds left and Clear Fork is a nice free throw shooting team and they made two free throws and we turned it over. We were inches away from being 2-0 and we end up being 0-2. So, our boys learned a lot and they did some good things. Friday night it a big night for us to kind of get off on the right foot in the league,” said Alberts.

The Northwestern coach says they have this is going to be an important week of practice for the Huskies. “I saw Chippewa, who played Tusky Central Catholic on Tuesday and Chippewa ended up winning 48-36 and they played hard. You set there and watch what they do and think now we are ready and we actually saw the team and go out and be prepared for what they do. I think it is more about matching the intensity and playing at the level we need to play at. I think you develop that by having good weeks of practice and hope that are guys are ready for that. I know that they had a sour taste in their mouth after last weekend. They are excited to be back on the floor,” he said.

Alberts says he expects the Chipps to play hard for their new coach and they do have some returning experience. “They have three guys back from last year that started. We played them at the end of the year last year, I always look at the last time we played them, not the first time. They have a new coach in Denny Shrock’s boy T.J. Shrock. Denny Shrock is the head girls coach at Chippewa. They have a new outlook on their team. Here early in the season they are going to play pretty darn hard and buy into what their coach is saying. I am anxious to see how we respond to it. Those three returning lettermen will be their keys in Spencer Bailey, Charlie Hemminger, and Steven Rose. It should be a fun night here Friday,” said Alberts.

Published 12/06/17

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Huskies Healthy and Ready to Get Started

Northwestern is getting more healthy and that is going to make them a better basketball team.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they got some good news this week and they are about as healthy as they can expect to be more a while. “We have everybody at practice except one guy that ruptured his achilles in June and he is hoping to come back in January some time. It was great at have everybody there. Our one senior Mason Wilhelmy had a shoulder injury. It was kind of interesting because we just wanted him to know if he could play or not this season. I felt bad for him not knowing and once he got the news that he is physically fine with his shoulder just making sure he wasn’t going to hurt it anymore. He is going to go and do as much as he can. This weekend he will get to play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “He won’t start this weekend, but he will definitely come off the bench and get some minutes and see where his conditioning is at and hopefully in the next couple of weeks kind of envision that starting lineup that we had hoped to see.”

Northwestern travels to Wooster Triway on Friday night and hosts Clear Fork on Saturday in non-conference games.

Alberts says there have been some changes at Trwiay, but they feel they are prepared for the Titans. “Their coach is the former coach at Dalton, so I went back and watched a couple of our Dalton films from last year and watched our Triway game from last year, so we know some of Triway’s personnel they have got back. They have had some guys not go out. Three starters from last year’s game against us who were all underclassmen are not playing. Now, their best player is back in Gabe Walker. We are expected that Ben Holt, who was at Dalton and is now at Triway, will feature him kind of the way he did Mitchell Clark last year with Dalton. Gabe Walker is a great player and he got 18 a game last year. That is their only double figure scorer that they have got back from last year. We know what to expect there. It is always tough when you go over to the Pit,” said Alberts.

The Huskies had played Clear Fork in scrimmages for years, but this is the first time they have played them in a real game. Alberts says the Colts are going to be talented, especially at the guard spots. “We have played Clear Fork in the scrimmages, so we at least know some of their personnel. I know they lost a few starters from last year and that great tournament run, but they have some good young players coming back. I know their freshmen class is very good. A sophomore guard, who is their point guard, played on J.J. Kline’s “AAU” team, one of my sophomores and Kade Mellott, another sophomore, they all played together in the summer. We know a little bit about them. It is a little bit weird because we are not scrimmaging them this year and we are actually playing them,” he said.

Published 11/30/17

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Northwestern Trying to Recover

Northwestern, the defending Wayne County Athletic League champs, must replace one of the state’s best post players in Derek Koch, plus they are dealing with a lot of injuries, but they just might be okay in the long run.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they have a lot of pretty good players that return, but right now a lot of them are hurt. “Every year is new and that is what high school basketball is all about. Unfortunately, you lose some classes and those kids move on. You have new players and different young guys that take their place and new senior classes. We have a lot of nice kids that are coming through our program right now. Our biggest thing is we are just trying to get healthy from football. We have five guys that played a lot of minutes for us last year. One of the boys ruptured his achilles in the summer, so he is out until January, and then we have two boys that played major roles. Two other seniors that played a ton last year, one that started in Park Smith and my son Jared Alberts, that are playing right now. We have a lot of moving parts,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We had a scrimmage where I thought we played very hard (Wednesday) night at Ontario. It was our first scrimmage because of injuries. I’m pleased with the progress we have made since the first practice. It definitely could be an interesting year, but I think health is a major thing with our team moving through the year.”

Alberts says they have been forced to change a lot of what they do on offense, but he feels the kids are learning it well. “We have changed everything this year with our offense and added a lot of different things. We had to after losing a guy like Derek Koch. So, it has taken time to learn that as well, but it is really getting a lot better. I think we will be much better by the end of the season, maybe you might even start seeing it mid season and you will say something has clicked with them. I think we have enough depth and players that we are going to be ready for the start of the season when we go over to Triway on December 1,” said Alberts Jr.

When it comes to the Wayne County Athletic League, Alberts thinks it should be an interesting season with a lot of teams in a similar situation. “We have been fortunate to have a lot of good seasons at Northwestern and we have developed a very nice program, but I think our league is going to be interesting this year because there were graduation losses for every team. I think there is always a team that has a bunch of guys back, but everybody has lost some people. You can point to some people that have played a lot of underclassmen, but we all have, so we are all kind of in the same boat. I am anxious to see where that leaves us and how it plays out in the league this year,” he said.

Published 11/17/17

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Northwestern Advances to Elite Eight


          Northwestern outscored Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (44-36) in the second half and went on to beat the Knights (75-67) in the division three regional semi-finals Wednesday night at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse.

          They play Cleveland Villa-Angela St. Joseph for a state tournament berth on Saturday night in Canton.

          In a first half of runs, St. Thomas Aquinas led (21-19) after the first quarter and the game was tied (31-31) at the half. 

          In the third quarter, the Huskies took the lead (42-40) on a 30 footer by point guard Parker Smith with 2:45 left in the quarter and went on to outscore the Knights (10-5) to close the quarter with a four point (49-45) advantage.

          They then began the final stanza with another run (10-6) run over the first 4:06 of the quarter to take a (59-51) lead and force a St. Thomas timeout.

          Coach Mark Alberts Jr. believes it was defense that turned the tide for the Huskies.  “I thought our defense the second half was much more active.  We went to a zone right at the end of the first half and I thought it looked good.  The second half I thought guys we much more engaged and we got to their shooters a little bit better.  They didn’t have Summers in the game and that definitely helped.  We only had to worry about a couple of guys on the floor instead of three.  I thought our guys did a better job rebounding the ball in the second half.  We made some really big hustle plays, which translated into some easy baskets for us,” said Alberts.

          Mason Wilhelmy converted a layup and two three pointers during a two minute span of the late third and early fourth quarter to give his team a spurt.  Alberts says once they were able to get some stops and some easier looks and then they started to relax a little more.  “I thought getting a few easy shots helped open up our perimeter and helped open up some things that maybe we weren’t doing early on.  I think the guys were more relaxed as the game went on,” he said.

          The Huskies built a nine point lead at (63-54) with 2:08 left on a hoop by Bowling Green recruit Derek Koch, but the Knights fought back and cut it just two (65-63) two free throws by Jaret Knox with 57 seconds remaining.

          Alberts says they made some mistakes, but they were able to make seven of eight free throws down stretch and get some big stops too.  “You know what?  We did some uncharacteristic things,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We had a couple of bad shots.  We had a couple of dumb fouls.  We had a turnover in there.  The pressure was definitely immense.  I think our guys made a couple of mistakes there.  Fortunately we were able to hit a couple of free throws and then we got a stop and a rebound and we were able to get a couple of easy buckets to kind of push the lead back to six.  We got it up to eight and they knew that we would have to miss and they would have to make a couple of easy baskets.  Our guys stayed mentally tough and that is a tribute to them.”

          Smith paced Northwestern (22-5) with 26 points on the night, Koch added 22, and Wilhelmy finished with 10.  Knox had 18 for the Knights.

          The Huskies winners of their last 18 in a row play Villa-Angela St. Joseph (20-6,) a (87-47) winner over Garfield on Wednesday night at the Fieldhouse, in the regional final.

          Alberts says they will be playing a very athletic team that plays very hard.  “Cleveland St. Joe’s is an outstanding team.  They play a great schedule.  They get great athletes there.  They play really hard and I think their defense makes their offense go.  They have a 6’8” sophomore named Alonzo Gaffney that you will see some day on TV with someone big, he is that good.  He still has a lot of things to polish and get better at his game. They had Carlton Bragg a few years ago and all of those great players and he is right in that.  I think you will see him do some special things.  They have some quick athletes and good players.  They play hard and I think their schedule benefits them.  So, we are going to have to handle some pressure and do some things like that to give ourselves a chance to win,” said Alberts.



Published 3/16/17

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