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Northwestern Wants to be Selfish

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

Northwestern is going to be able to put a number on their banner indicating boys’ basketball titles won in the Wayne County Athletic League, but they want that title all to themselves.

A win at home against Smithville on Friday night will do just that.

Right now, they lead Norwayne and Waynedale by a game.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they have taken the word sharing out of their vocabulary this week. “We are only looking at winning the title outright. They players don’t want to share with anybody else. It has been a goal of theirs all year. They are focused. In this situation it was a lot more about ourselves with what we did this week. We went over some things that Smithville did defensively. We prepared ourselves. There are not a lot of things to go over on them. It is about how we are playing right now,” said Alberts.

Northwestern (14-5,11-2) beat Smithville (78-59) on January 11 in the first meeting between the two.

Alberts says no disrespect to the Smithies intended, but this week they have been working more on polishing what they do rather than things that Smithville might be running. “Sometimes you have to go over stuff that people run, certain set plays. You can also try and take some of that away by just doing what you are good at. I think that is the best thing that we can do right now. Just do what we are good at, don’t try and be something we are not. Our guys are definitely buying into that,” he said.

Northwestern might play Smithville again in the tournament.

Speaking of the postseason, Alberts says the players are having a hard time understanding why Norwayne in the top seed in their division three tournament and not them. “Our guys and looking for respect. We got a number two seed, but three teams in the tournament voted us a three seed. A team that is the number one seed didn’t win the league. We had less losses in the league than the team that got the number one seed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think we like where we are at. We like where we stand. We play the winner of Wellington and Smithville and we will focus with that once we are done with Smithville and Orrville this weekend. Our guys are really looking at that respect factor. Hopefully, that will motivate them through the tournament run.”

Published 2/15/19

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Norwalk Holds Off Northwestern

For the second night in a row, Norwalk battled a league leader and came out on top.

After beating Lexington (46-40) on Friday night, the Truckers came to Northwestern Saturday and beat the Wayne County Athletic League leaders (55-50) in a hotly contested non-conference game.

“That is what people have to realize. Northwestern was 14-4 coming in. We are playing at their place. They had a lot of energy. I thought this was a good win for us. Northwestern really played hard,” said Norwalk coach Steve Gray.

It was the Huskies having their way early, leading by as many as six (10-4) after a Kaden Mellott basket with 4:35 to play in the first. It was (14-13) Northwestern after one quarter.

Norwalk took its first lead (17-16) on two free throws by Brandon Haraway with 6:43 to play in the half. The lead seesawed until Norwalk scored seven of the last nine points of the half, five by Haraway, to take a (28-23) lead into the locker room.

In the third quarter, the Truckers seemed to take command, leading (49-40) after 24 minutes of play, but the could never quite shake the Huskies. “In the third quarter we were really good. Our spacing was good. We knocked down shots. Our big problem was then in the fourth we became unorganized. We didn’t have people in the right spots offensively and I don’t know what the reason for that is. If we can’t get them in the right spot, that’s coaching and we will take care of those things next week,” said Gray.

Haraway led Norwalk with 19 points. Mellott had 20 for the Huskies.

Northwestern (14-5) has a chance to win the Wayne County Athletic League outright with a win over Smithville on Friday.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. was pretty excited by how they played against what he called the best team on their schedule. “I am proud of our guys. I am so pleased with how they played and the effort they gave against a really good team, a team that possibly could be in Columbus this year. I think our guys believed whole heartedly they could win the game. I loved our effort on the defensive end. They are tough to guard, especially when you have a division two signee, who can take over a game. I felt like we made it at least a little tough for him at times,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Obviously, he made some great plays. Our guys getting 16 steals against them, you can’t ask for more than that. Unfortunately, when you don’t make shots, especially in the first half. Instead of being down 28-23, I definitely thought we should have been up at halftime a couple, maybe four, and that would have made it a little different in the second half.”

Northwestern never went away and came after Norwalk with all they had in the fourth quarter, getting to within four (54-50) on Will Schand’s three with :18 left in the game.

The Truckers (16-2) have won 14 in a row and have not lost since early December. Gray says they have not been playing the little sisters of the poor. “I was looking at our record and I think we have played 12 teams with winning records. The Firelands, we have played potentially their league champion, the Wayne County League Champion, the “OCC” champion, the league Cardinal Stritch is in, they are probably going to win their league. We have played five conference champions during this time period. Our schedule is getting us ready for what is coming up in three weeks,” said Gray.

Northwestern will likely have the first seed in their division three district and Alberts says they will benefit from the experience of playing a team like Norwalk. “I told our guys I would much rather have a game like this than a game when you go out and win by 40 points. I think this is going to help us down the road when we play in that first tournament game whether it by March 1 or February 27, whichever it is, it is going to help us because we were in a tough situation and had some adversity. If we are fortunate to win a game or two in the tournament and get in that district semifinal or district final you are playing against good teams. So, playing against a team like this they can recall some of the things that happened and use that and learn from it. Hopefully, do something a little different to have some more success,” said Alberts.

Norwalk is a better team than they were earlier in the year because the kids around Haraway, maybe the best player we cover, are improved.

The Truckers play Cardinal Stritch on Tuesday, but Gray says they are really looking forward to their showdown with the Sandusky Blue Streaks on Friday, they share first place in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference. “They are a lot better. Madison, that is an eternity ago. Our main focus now has to be to get better. Yes, we have a game on Tuesday, but the most important game of the season is next Friday. That is a chance to put a number up on the banners. We need a league championship and it goes through Sandusky,” he said.

Published 2/09/19

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Northwestern Can Claim a Share

On Saturday morning, the Northwestern Huskies were thinking boy I hope we didn’t blow this, but what a difference six days makes.

After slipping into a share of the Wayne County Athletic League lead with Waynedale after losing to the Golden Bears (77-69,) the Huskies have regained the lead to themselves with a (67-55) win over Dalton on Saturday night and a (85-54) win over Hillsdale on Tuesday. Also, Norwayne beat Waynedale (56-41) on Tuesday. The Bears and the Bobcats both trail Northwestern by one.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. is proud of how his kids responded to that loss to Waynedale. “We could have won the Waynedale game. We could have won the Norwayne game before that. We had chances in both games. Unfortunately, we didn’t. You can blame us in a lot of those areas for what didn’t happen. I am very proud of the guys for coming out on a Saturday night on a double league weekend and getting the win against Dalton also Tuesday night having a really good win against Hillsdale at home. We kind of got, I don’t want to say confidence back, but we had that bounce in our step. I saw the guys do some things on the floor that we hadn’t done for a while, played loose, played kind of how we need to play, especially on the offensive end and hopefully that carries over to (Friday) night,” said Alberts.

When you are dealing with teenagers, Alberts says building their confidence is big factor. “You have to go out and make plays sometimes if it is in practice or in a game situation, in a real game. In a game situation in practice, you have to make that three pointer, we have to make our threes, you have to make that layup, make the extra pass and then make the shot. It is easy to say to do it, but until you actually do it, do it a few times, so you are confident that you can do it then the guys are starting to think I don’t know if I can make this is a game it has been a while, I haven’t made it in a game in while,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday,” So, it was really good to have those two games the way they were. We made some really good plays, those unscripted plays, those plays that we were making a lot early in the year, we started to see that again Saturday and Tuesday.”

Northwestern (14-4,10-2) is at Chippewa (8-9,6-6) on Friday night. In their first meeting, the Huskies won (76-53) on January 5 and Alberts believes they will be more focused than they were that night. Chippewa is coming off a big win last Friday when they beat Norwayne (63-49) to stop the Bobcats from sharing the lead at the time. “The halftime score of that game was 16-13, Chippewa beat Norwayne at Norwayne. Definitely a surprise. It wasn’t like Norwayne turned it over, they just couldn’t make any shots. Chippewa did a good job in the second half seizing the opportunity to win the game on Norwayne’s floor. Coach Shrock at Chippewa has done a great job with them to get them to play at a level he needs them at. They have won seven out of nine or something like that. Give them a lot of credit. The good thing is, and I really believe this, the last time we played them I think we looked ahead because we had just beaten Dalton on a Friday night 89-86, played Chippewa on Saturday, and had Waynedale coming in on Tuesday. We didn’t play well the first half, and I really believe we were looking ahead, there is no reason to look ahead, these guys know what’s at stake,” said Alberts.

Published 2/08/19

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Northwestern With Huge Game at Waynedale

Northwestern clings to a one game lead in the Wayne County Athletic League standings and they must play at Waynedale against the Golden Bears on Friday night, with that lead hanging in the balance.

Norwayne hosts Chippewa on Friday night.

On Saturday night, Northwestern hosts Dalton, Waynedale is at Chippewa and Norwayne is at Smithville.

Things got closer last Friday night when Norwayne beat Northwestern (81-79) in double overtime at Northwestern.

Huskies coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they didn’t play as smart as they should have and they didn’t get any help. “I don’t think we were at our best at all during the game on Friday night. That is unfortunate because we still had a chance to win in regulation and the first and second overtime. I was very proud of how our guys responded when we were down nine in the fourth quarter. We hit a three that put us up one with 30 seconds to go in the game. So, we battled and battled back. Love our grit and our effort and our toughness for doing that. I didn’t think we played very smart throughout the game. Hard, smart and together is kind of what we hang our hat on. We played hard and we played together, but we didn’t play very smart,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The unfortunate part is when you have 29 fouls called on you and have three guys foul out including two starters, all three are among our eight guys that play all of the time. It is very tough to combat that when you are trying to beat an excellent team like Norwayne and you lose three of your guys that would be on the floor possibly in those situations. So, tough from that aspect as well.”

Northwestern (12-3,8-1) is at Waynedale (13-3,7-2) on Friday night. The Huskies won the first meeting (82-73) on January 8.

Alberts says there is no question the Golden Bears have some talented kids. “Waynedale has a very talented duo of players, really trio. They have a 6’6” junior in Mason Higgins, who on a given night could be as good as anybody around and then they have two guys that could be player of the year in our league in Derek Reber, who is a 6’4” perimeter player slash guard/wing and then Zach Geiser, 6’0” guard. They can both shoot and hit the rack, they are excellent players, who have really worked at their games. Reber being senior and Geiser being a sophomore. They have some other very good players don’t get me wrong, but those three are as talented as anybody we face on a nightly basis,” said Alberts.

Alberts says Waynedale is tough to beat on their floor. He says they have to get their share of rebounds. “Waynedale’s gym is different than other gyms. The court is the same as our court because we don’t have the 94 foot court, but in their gym the court feels smaller and they play aggressive and sometimes they extend their zone and do some things different in their own gym. We have to handle that type atmosphere. We have to rebound the ball against them. They are the biggest team in the league just with three of their starters. If you combat that pressuring and rebounding, holding them to one shot. They are talented, they are going to score, but when they do make mistakes you have to at least make them pay for it. Hopefully, we can do that,” he said.

Published 1/31/19

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Northwestern Can Draw Away

It’s a night with a big opportunity for the Northwestern Huskies. They can pretty much eliminate Norwaye from the Wayne County Athletic League race by beating the Bobcats on Friday night.

Right now, Northwestern, unbeaten in the conference, leads Norwayne and Waynedale by two games. Waynedale plays at Dalton.

Northwestern escaped an upset bid last week beating Rittman (57-53) after trailing by 18 in the first half.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. was pleased with how his kids responded to being behind. “It is such a long season and these are some dog days and I really like our progress that we have made. Take going into the new year between Christmas a New Year’s is always an interesting time, it’s hard to classify, and then we hit January first and you can kind of start over and we feel like we have done some very good things. They knew last week our first half against Rittman was as bad as we have had this year and I didn’t have to yell at them at halftime going into the second half they knew,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We got better in the second half and we got better to the point we used something we haven’t used in a while and maybe that can help us in the second half of the season because we know we can do it. They know what is in front of them because they know what Norwayne brings.”

Northwestern (12-2,8-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays host to Norwayne (12-2,6-2) on Friday night. The Huskies beat the Bobcats (76-64) at Norwayne on December 21. Norwayne was upset last Friday when Dalton hit a late three to beat them (57-56) and drop them two back.

Alberts says the Bobcats are loaded with talent, especially their guards. “They have very good guards with Quinn Hiles and Ben Draper, those are their leading scorers, probably 15, 16 a game for Hiles, and Drapper is probably in that 12 to 13. They have a big guy that has 22 on us the first time name Joey Raudebaugh, he is a center. They have some good weapons in their young kids. Hiles is the only senior. They play real hard. Coach (Brian) West does a great job with them. They are not 12-2 without a reason. They are a tough team and a tough team to beat. We know what’s at stake,” he said.

Alberts says he is happy to be at home for this game on Friday night. “We know that they are going to be desperate. Our guys, I am very proud of them, we are playing at home at the right time. This could be us playing up the road and that’s even tougher when you go to somebody else’s house when they are desperate like that when you have a chance to get a piece of the league they are going to do anything the can. It is tough to do when you are on the road. You have a lot of things against you. Our guys are pretty excited to play and the crowd, things like that, and being in loud gym. I guess that is why I am happy we are not playing them at their place right now with this much at stake and this much on the line,” said Alberts.

Published 1/25/19

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Northwestern Counting on its Pressure

Northwestern, the leader in the Wayne County Athletic League, begins the second half of the league schedule at Rittman on Friday and at home with Hillsdale on Saturday.

They lead Norwayne by game in the league standings.

On Tuesday night, the Huskies downed Akron Manchester (78-66) in a non-league game.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they weren’t necessarily ready to play, but they got better as the game went along. “We looked for a little bit like it was a Tuesday night non-league game. We played like that at times in the first half. We were down two at halftime. You could tell they were upset at halftime. We just talked to them about playing hard and doing consistently what we need to do. We played a lot better in that third quarter. I think we were up (55-45) going into the fourth,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It wasn’t in doubt, we got up by 16 and we kind of traded baskets. Our guys are looking hard at getting into the league. They know what is in front of them in the league and having that non-league game in there, it was nice to play a game, but they are really focused on Friday night here with Rittman.”

Usually games in the second round of a league double round robin and more competitive and Alberts says that is because there is more familiarity there. “Teams know each other. It was our third game of the year and it was everybody’s first league game, so it has been a while since we have played them. I think it will be interesting to see how things play out in the game. Usually games are closer because you know each other a little bit better. We have to go up there and Rittman is not always an easy place to play,” he said.

Northwestern (12-2,7-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at Rittman (5-4,3-4) on Friday night. The Huskies won the first time (79-48) on December 7.

Alberts anticipates some chances in what they will see from the Indians on Friday night. “I expect a little different starting lineup than the first time we played them. They have two seniors in Connor Stuart and Evan Ringer, two returners that played a ton for them last year. They are the leaders of their team as we thought. The younger Ringer, (Reese) Ringer had double digits against us the first time we played them and didn’t start. I expect him to start this time. I expect him to start a couple of other different guys. They are a team that is formattable, but hopefully we can pressure them and get after them like we did the first time and put ourselves in the same position,” said Alberts.

Published 1/18/19

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Rebounds, Turnovers Key for Northwestern

Northwestern leads the Wayne County Athletic League standings by a game and they need a win over second place Waynedale at home Tuesday night or it will create a logjam at the top.

The Huskies beat Dalton (89-86) last Friday and Chippewa (76-63) on Saturday in league games.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says in neither game did they play well for 32 minutes, but they still did enough good things. “We did a lot of good things at times, but it wasn’t two of our maybe complete games. I thought Friday night offensively we did a lot of great things, but we gave up 86 points. Saturday, I thought we did some really good things offensively and defensively, but then down the stretch of the game we had 20 turnovers and 13 missed foul shots, so definitely some areas we can be a lot better at. We were happy to win those games and kind of keep our pace in the league,” he said.

Northwestern (8-3,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, hosts Waynedale (9-2,4-1) on Tuesday night.

Alberts says the Golden Bears have a nice blend of talent and experience. “The Bears are very good. They have a lot of size. They have three returning players that are as good as anybody in our league in Mason Higgins, Zach Geiser and Derek Reber, who maybe be one of the best players in our whole league. He is definitely a tough matchup for anybody at 6’4”, 6’5” and can play the perimeter, play anywhere. Then Philip Brewer started for them last year and Chase Murphy came off the bench. Their five starters are experienced players for a team that lost in a district semifinal and won our league. It is definitely going to be a challenge (Tuesday) night,” said Alberts.

When it comes to keys Alberts doesn’t waiver much, but he says Tuesday night it is going to be rebounding and limiting turnovers. “There are three things that I always look at in every game, but maybe turn them around and put them in a different order free throws, rebounding and turnovers. I think (Tuesday) night our rebounding and turnovers are going to be premium and free throws also, but maybe not at the forefront. If we don’t rebound the ball they are going to kill us on the glass,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I watched them play South Central and South Central bothered them with all kinds of pressure. South Central didn’t shoot well and they were just so much bigger than they were. Offensive rebounds and Phillip Brewer, who isn’t even one of their good scorers, had 11 points and nine rebounds in that game. We can’t turn it over against their zone and make free throws, but the turnovers, if we limit them we are going to get plenty of shots, with the way we are going to play. The third thing in we have to make sure our defensive pressure actually creates something. I think they will struggle against it. I think South Central made them work, they just had a rough shooting night that game.”

Published 1/08/19

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“WCAL” Leader Northwestern With Double League Weekend

Northwestern leads the Wayne County Athletic League standings this week by a game over Wyanedale and Norwayne. They play at Dalton of Friday and at home against Chippewa on Saturday in a double weekend.

Although they suffered just their second loss of the season last week to Columbia (73-58,) coach Mark Alberts Jr. feels they have come through the holidays in pretty good shape, especially after a (75-73) win over Midview on Saturday. “We won our two games right before Christmas and stubbed our toe a little bit against Columbia and bounced back with a good win against Midview, a division one school that has some good athletes at an Elyria Catholic gym with a tournament atmosphere, definitely happy with how we bounced back there. I saw the Columbia game coming because of the holidays. It was one of those with a two hour JV game, 46 fouls there, and overtime, an hour bus ride and we didn’t play well. Maybe it was a good wake up call for our guys and we had to be ready. Happy to get back into some routine and get ready for a double weekend, starting with the Dalton Bulldogs on Friday,” said Alberts.

Northwestern (6-2,3-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at Dalton (2-6,1-2) in Friday night. The Bulldogs lost to Garaway (59-55) last week.

Alberts says this a little bit of a different Dalton team than they are used to facing. “They have always had a lot of returning guys and it seems like they had always had scorers and role players every year that fit together. They were never without a stud player. This year their best player is a freshman. He is averaging about 15 a game right now, a very good player. They have never had to rebuild like that. They have a good junior in Joey Dalessandro, but he has been injured a little bit here at the start. He may end up being their best player,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They don’t have this guy coming back that they have had in the past, who has started for three years, a couple times all-league pick, and they seem like they have had a lot of that in the past 8-10 years. They are going through a different process. When you go to Dalton everybody still struggles to play there.”

The Huskies host Chippewa on Saturday and Alberts says they will be well coached and do some things pretty well. “B.J. Schrock is the coach now, and his dad Denny is the girls’ coach, and obviously they are good every year. B.J. has done a good job of getting his kids to play at a high level, even if they aren’t as talented as other teams. They have couple of really nice players in Charlie Henegar and Cooper Davies, so they have some talent. They don’t have a lot of depth and they are still searching to see who they have, but coach Schrock does a really nice job with them. They are a team that you have to account for every year,” he said.

Published 1/03/19

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Key “WCAL” Game as Northwestern is at Norwayne

It is a big game in the Wayne County Athletic League on Friday night as Northwestern is at Norwayne.

They are co-leaders in the league standings, the only two to win both league games this year.

Northwestern beat Hillsdale (62-47) last Friday and coach Mark Alberts Jr. is pleased with what he has seen so far. “We started out that first weekend against two really good teams in Triway and Clear Fork. Clear Fork has not lost since they played Lexington. I thought in that game we actually played pretty well and just couldn’t finish some plays. We got the victory against the Titans. Rittman has lost once and we beat them at our place in our first league game and we won our first league game on the road. With what has been in front of us our guys have done a good job. We are definitely ready to get on the road here and play Norwayne, who seems to be everybody’s darling this year,” he said.

Northwestern (3-1,2-0) is at Norwayne (6-0,2-0) on Friday night. The Bobcats won a big one last week in beating Waynedale (54-52) in a conference game. They overwhelmed Loudonville (62-18) on Tuesday night in a non-league game.

Alberts says they can score in the post, but their perimeter players, especially two of them, are really impressive. “Coach West does a good job getting them ready to play and getting them to play hard and play their style of basketball, which is a physical brand of defense with solid fundamentals. This year they are playing faster. They have more guys on the perimeter that can score. They have a good blend. They have two big guys, if you can call them big guys, about 6’3” kids, and they don’t usually play at the same time. They have five perimeter players that are really good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They kind of play multiple positions. One of the is a senior Quinn Hiles, he has played for four years. He will get 15, 17 a game. Ben Draper, who is a junior, who is really good, and he is getting about the same number of points. They had 40 of their 54 when then beat Waynedale last weekend, so obviously those are their two main guys.”

When it comes to keys to winning, Albert says they have to rebound and they must force some turnovers with their pressure defense. “One, we have to force them into some turnovers and play our style. Two, we have to rebound the ball. We can not give them second chances if they miss. They are long athletic guys, who play hard and crash the glass. In the past when we have had success against these guys that are playing them game, we have pressured them, we have forced them into being jump shooters, contested jump shooters, not wide open shots and we have done a good job rebounding. Playing over in their gym it is not easy to shoot there. I watched the other night and the away team got a lot of shots they just couldn’t hit one, give Norwayne some credit on that, but also they took some bad shots and you can’t take bad shots against them because they are known to get out and run. This year they are looking to run a whole lot more than they have in the past,” said Alberts.

Published 12/21/18

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Updated every five minutes on Friday nights

 
 

Northwestern Travels to Hillsdale

Northwestern ventures on the road for the first time in Wayne County Athletic League play on Friday as they visit Hillsdale to take on the Falcons.

The Huskies won their league opener last week handily over Rittman (79-48) last Friday. They have won two of their first three.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. has been pretty pleased by what he has seen on the floor. “We are pretty happy with what we have had the first few games. I wish we could have had a better second half against the Clear Fork Colts. We are trying to make sure we get better here with our first road league game. The guys are doing a really good job of just being focused on the one game that is front of them. I definitely happy and hopefully we can keep improving each time out,” he said.

Focus is something coaches talk about all of the time and Alberts, a winner of more than 300 games, says there are a number of ways to get it. “Sometimes we have to motivate them in different ways. They need different kinds of motivation. Maybe you motivate them by saying someone is disrespecting them or put them back a position where they have to find an edge. There are other times when you don’t have to motivate them, they know what’s at stake. It depends on certain games and certain times when you are playing,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Right now, we are just trying to keep them playing because we are getting towards that Christmas time where you are getting out of your routine. We have had four good days of practice this week and I am looking forward to getting back on the floor. Then we will have four more days of practice next week. Then we will have a lot of games in a short amount of time without practice once we get to Christmas break.”

Northwestern (2-1,1-0) is at Hillsdale (1-1,0-1) on Friday night. The Falcons opened their season last week after a successful football season. They lost to Waynedale (64-40) in a league game Friday night. They beat Mansfield Christian (54-39) on Saturday night in a non-conference game.

Alberts says they are going to need to play with a lot of effort on Friday night because the Falcons will. “Coach (Eric) Nickles does a really nice job for Hillsdale. They have Tyler McFadden, who can really score, about a 6’4” kid. He is their best all around player. Carsten Betson is a guard for them and he has had some good game here early. He had 16 against Waynedale on Friday night and I think he had double figures again Saturday when they beat Mansfield Christian. Those two guys are their main guys. They are going to play hard. Coach Nickles gets them to play really hard for him. We are just hoping to go on the road and play as hard as did our last time out against Rittman at home. We want to play that hard and hope things fall into place after that,” said Alberts.

Published 12/14/18

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Northwestern Opens “WCAL” Play with Rittman

Northwestern entertains Rittman in the opener in Wayne County Athletic League play for both schools on Friday night.

It was one up and one down for the Huskies last week. They beat Wooster Triway (79-70) on Friday and lost to Clear Fork (72-59) on Saturday.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. thinks they played better in the loss than they did in the win. “I thought that the Triway game was a nice opening win, but I didn’t think we played that clean of game. I thought we did some good things at times during the game. Triway is an excellent basketball team, and I think you will see that here coming up. I think Clear Fork is really good and I thought we played a cleaner game that night from an overall standpoint, we just didn’t shoot it very well. The second half we didn’t have the same kind of intensity we did the first half. Give Clear Fork some credit, they played pretty well that second half too. So, we are glad to be 1-1, but definitely know we have a lot of improving to do as we go forward,” said Alberts.

Alberts, one of the more consistent winning coaches in North Central Ohio, says when it comes to the improvement of a basketball team, he believes it comes in stages. “I think you will see improvement (early,) especially if teams haven’t played that well, but in basketball it is even more about the beginning season and once you get past Christmas and then into that new year and then you have that end of the season into the tournament. I think there are four or five different parts to it that you can really see some distinct improvements. You can find a way to rectify things. I think we are big part of that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Two years ago, we didn’t play really well early in the season, we were 6-5, the year we went to the regional final we won 18 games in a row. Last year, we were 4-8 and finished strong. We were 9-0 one year and we finished 16-6. It can break down differently each year. I not going to say anything until we get to Christmas. We have a total of six games before Christmas, I think that is a pretty good measuring stick.”

Rittman (2-0,0-0) beat Cloverleaf (65-46) last Friday and Kidron Central Christian (51-45) on Tuesday.

Alberts sys the Indians offer some challenges. “I saw them play Central Christian (Tuesday) night and they have some good returning players, at least one starter, and maybe another starter some of the time last year, and couple of other guys that played off the bench. They have some experience, they have some athletically gifted guys that can shoot. They are trying to play 10 guys right now, so I think that will be interesting to see if they do that. I am looking forward to using our style when we play them. Getting after them and pressuring them and seeing where we go from there. I like having that first league game at home,” he said.

Published 12/06/18

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Defense the Key for Northwestern

The Northwestern Huskies are a traditional basketball power and to win this year, at least consistently, they are going to have to do it on the defensive end.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says he has been pleased with how good his kids have looked early in the preseason. “It is always fun to start the year. I really like the group of kids that we have got and they are really working hard. I am very proud of their effort they are putting in each day. We are almost hurting our offense right now because I think we could be a very good defensive team this year, even more so that a lot of other years in the past. We have a lot of athletes and we can use 10 guys and press. I think that is something we are really stressing. I really like what I have seen so far. It probably hurt our offense Saturday in a scrimmage, but our defense looked very good and we pressed for six straight quarters,” said Alberts.

Over the first 10 days, Alberts says they have kind of sacrificed working on offense to sharpen that defense even more. “We need to execute and we need to do it more. Right now, we are concentrating so hard on defense we aren’t doing much on offense in practice. It’s weird to say that and I am an offensive guy too, but I feel we have to concentrate on the defensive side of the ball because I felt like last year we didn’t do well enough in that area and I think that hurt us and probably cost us a couple of games that we should have had especially early in the year. Late in the year I thought we played very well and we did what I asked. It is a double edged sword. We have a couple of weeks to figure that out before, exactly 18 days before we play Triway,” said Alberts.

Alberts says the preseason scrimmages aren’t really about winning games, but instead about working on things you need to work on. “I think that is something that is lost and sometimes people try to win here in the preseason. I sacrificed a quarter that we could have won on Saturday to watch our other guys play against a good team and see what they could do. We maybe could have won had I stuck my starters back in, especially my big kid, and we lost because of it. Okay, I didn’t want to lose,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We tried to win some other quarters, but I needed to see if these guys could play. We missed 10 straight shots and I have never said this any other year, but they were all good shots, we just missed. We got them, and we played hard, we just missed the shots. It would be different I guess if we weren’t getting the shots.”

Published 11/13/18

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Northwestern Looks for Clean Sweep

Northwestern hosts Norwaye in the third meeting this year between the Wayne County Athletic League schools, this time in the first round of the division three tournament on Tuesday night.

Northwestern (11-11) has been a different team of the last six, seven weeks after a slow start to the season.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says he can see it the way they play. “Our team is much different then we were in the first half of the season. To the point where I went back and watched some film because we are totally different. I am really happy with what they have done. They have had a good week here in practice and we didn’t overdue it. We had a little time to rest from our triple overtime game with Orrville. Hopefully, we can kind get started off on the right foot (Tuesday) night in the tournament,” he said.

The Huskies have not played since a triple overtime win (80-77) over Orrville on February 17. Alberts says the rest has been good for them. “Really I am not concerned with rust for the fact that I think we needed some rest. We had six straight double weekends. I’m sorry most schools now a days aren’t playing double weekends every week. It kind it wore on our guys playing every Friday and Saturday. For them to have a weekend off I think kind of recharged our batteries. It was great for them from that fact. We really haven’t had that much time off from playing. We did a good job of just going about an hour and 20 minutes each day in practice. We just kept things short,” said Alberts.

Northwestern won both of the regular season meetings (54-50) in early January and (72-62) in early February. However, Alberts says the Bobcats are starting to play better. “Coach (Brian) West at Norwayne does a great job with them. He gets them prepared and ready to play every game. They have a lot of young guys, kind of like we do. They have played better here at the end of the year. They beat Smithville the other night. They almost beat Wellington, lost by a point to the number one team in our district,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I watched them play West Holmes and Northwest, both tough games against good teams and they played them tough last week. Quinn Hiles and Ben Draper are their best players. Quinn Hiles can shoot it from anywhere. We know what we have to do guarding those guys. It is always a test when you are going up against a rival in the tournament.”

On Tuesday, according to Alberts the biggest thing is they need to get done is rebound the basketball. “We need to rebound when they miss. That is one thing we didn’t do the last time. We were up 20 and we got out rebounded by about 10 or 12 that game. We were up 20 with two minutes to go and I think it ended up 10 and that was because of the way the subs played. Rebounding is the number one key. If we give them one shot I think we are going to be a in great shape. The second thing we have to keep the pressure on them and make the game fast. We don’t want the game to be slow. We don’t want to play at their pace. We want to make the game in the 70’s and I don’t think that is where they want it at,” said Alberts.

Published 2/27/18

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Northwestern With Revenge on its Mind

Northwestern continues to play good basketball as we close the regular season. They have won six of their last seven.

The loss came to Norwalk (54-39) in non-conference play on Saturday.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr, says they are going to kind of file and forget that one. “We have tried to just put the Norwalk game out of our minds. They are a very good basketball team. After a huge emotional win on Friday and we expended a lot of energy and also the next morning. Three of our players, two starters and our sixth man took the “ACT” and they played like it on Saturday night. We are looking forward to getting back on line with a full week of practice and have the energy that we had on Friday and bring it to the table against Dalton on Friday night,” he said.

Last Friday, Northwestern beat Waynedalle (77-73) knocking the Golden Bears back into a tie for first place with Rittman in the Wayne County Athletic League. The Huskies may play them again in the upcoming division three tournament.

Alberts says the players are alright with that. “There are pros and cons to it. I was very happy that our players were excited about our tournament draw. I was worried they were going to be we really wanted to play this team or this team. A lot of them are excited about playing Norwayne again. We know what we have to get done at home and then possibly playing Waynedale they were excited,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “In their minds they said, coach, we didn’t play our best ball, we won, but they don’t want to play us again. They have that kind of mentality. Our guys are excited to see where the tournament takes us, but they definitely want to finish 9-5 and 6-1 in the second half of league and that is what they can do (Friday) night.”

Northwestern (10-10,8-5) plays Dalton (7-12, 5-8) on the road on Friday night. The Bulldogs won the first game (73-61) on January 13.

Alberts says they want to continue to prove they are a better team in the second half of the season. “They have good seniors. Dominic Dalessandro played on my “AAU” team when my son was in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade. I know some of the boys on that team. They have a great group of seniors with Andrew Kandel and then Alex Alger, guys that have played for three years it seems like, and then Joey Dalessandro. They are a little up and down, sometimes play to the level of their competition or you think they will and they come out and don’t play well. They played really well against us the first time, give them a lot credit, it was in our gym. We are looking to prove people wrong a little bit going over there,” said Alberts.

Published 2/16/18

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Northwestern Plays League Leaders

Northwestern gets a second chance against Wayne County Athletic League leader Waynedale on Friday night and the Huskies are playing a lot better than they were when they played them the first time.

Waynedale belted Northwestern (83-63) on January 6. Huskies coach Mark Alberts Jr. says that was kind of a low point of the season for them. “The first time we just weren’t playing well at that time. I felt like we were just grinding and shooting ourselves in the foot too many times. I think that we made some adjustments, made some changes. I am hoping we are a little more prepared this time to play them. We have a little bit more of an idea of what to expect, definitely. So, hopefully we can be a little better here on Friday night,” said Alberts.

Waynedale (13-5,9-2) is the conference leader by a game over Rittman and Smithville. They did lose to Dalton (62-59) in overtime their last time out on Saturday.

Alberts says they have a lot of skill. “They are very tall. They have some size at different spots in the floor. They have a 6’4” kid that plays everywhere in Derek Reber. He is a talented player. They play really, really fast, they press, they have three or four guys that can shoot from the three point line. I am very impressed with their style and how they have attacked and kind of changed themselves from last year,” he said.

Northwestern (9-9,7-5) has really turned its fortunes around over the last couple of weeks. They beat Hillsdale (64-32) on Friday and Norwayne (72-62) in conference games last week.

The Huskies play at Norwalk (10-7) of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Saturday night. Alberts says when you play a Steve Gray coached team you have to be ready for a lot. “Coach Gray always has them going well. It doesn’t matter what time of the year, he is a heck of a coach. Not just because he won a state title (2014) he has been doing that a lot longer than just winning the state,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday. “You have to be prepared to play them. Haraway is really good. He can score from anywhere. He is a really good defender. They have good size inside. They have some shooters and they run good sets. They play in a good league. They do a lot of different things. It is definitely a fun challenge as you are getting close to tournament time.”

Published 2/08/18

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Northwestern Has Found a New Focus

Northwestern has won three of its last four games and their focus now is to get back to the division three district tournament, which they won last year.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they have found a way to rise up. “We are trending upward as the now term says and I am very pleased how we have responded from a tough early January. We lost a senior starter who had surgery on his shoulder that was bothering him. He was a real important piece last year to our team. Guys have just kind of risen up and changed their attitude. We haven’t stopped playing hard, we have probably played harder,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think we have taken it as a challenge to kind of prove to everybody that we are not what our record is. That is really what impresses me is the guys have a new focus and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Northwestern made a run to the regional final last year. Alberts says he wanted to know the players thoughts on this year. “I asked the guys what they wanted to do? I said can you tell me who the district champion was last year? They kind of looked at me funny and said we were. I said, right, and we haven’t been beaten in the tournament yet. We are still defending champs. I just challenged them and put yourself in position where host a sectional game and go on the road in the sectional final and maybe pull an upset and get yourself in the district again, which is very possible in our district. Right now, they are kind of responding to that challenge,” he said.

Northwestern (7-9,5-5) plays Hillsdale (3-11,2-8) on Friday and Norwayne (5-8,3-6) in Wayne County Athletic League games on Friday and Saturday.

Alberts says Hillsdale is improved. “They beat Mansfield Temple Christian on Saturday. They play Mapleton (Tuesday) night. Mapleton is struggling this year. Hillsdale is much improved from the beginning of the year. I think we have both gotten better since we have played the first time. Eric Nichols is a first year coach and he does a great job with his program. He did a good job at Rittman, where he was girls coach, he gets the kids to play hard. I felt like the first time we played them we didn’t play well for some stretches and that’s why we had to fight hard at the end to win. I’m hoping we play better this time,” said Alberts.

When it comes to Norwayne, Alberts says they are young and still getting better too. “They lost in overtime to Smithville on Saturday night and had beaten Dalton on Friday. They have a lot of young players and they are getting seasoned. They are playing with a little more confidence right now. That is kind of the way I look at Hillsdale, even though there are some veteran guys there. Their young guys are really not their main guys. Norwayne will be a tough match up. It takes us 15 minutes to get to each school, so it’s our two rival schools on the same weekend, at least in terms of proximity,” he said.

Published 1/30/18

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Northwestern Still Looking to Find Itself

Northwestern won the Wayne County Athletic League title last season and advanced to the regional final in division three, but this year it has been a much more inconsistent year.

If “Old Man Winter” allows they play Dalton (4-5,2-4) on Friday night at home in a Wayne County Athletic League game.

Last Saturday, they were blasted by conference leader Waynedale (83-63) on a “WCAL” game. Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says it was not their best performance and hopefully this week can be different. “We had a little rough night. We didn’t play with the same energy we did the night before and Waynedale played really well. I’m a little disappointed, but I think there are some things we can pull from that. We are going to try and put it behind us, but we know we didn’t perform the way we needed to. We are ready for this weekend we have had a good week of practice and ready to go against Dalton,” he said.

Northwestern (4-7,3-3) plays at home against Dalton Friday. The Bulldogs are coming off a (58-41) loss to Rittman on Saturday.

Alberts says they have a lot kids returning from last year, but he says the Bulldogs are much different. “They have some kids returning, four that start now, they were starting five, but the one guy isn’t starting anymore, so they are a veteran group. They kind of lost a lot of their scoring and they are trying to figure things out, kind of like we are a little bit. I think they are very similar in that fact. I think they play hard,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a new coach and they are kind of different than they have been in years past. They have a new coach it’s not Ben Holt, who went to Triway. It is a different team and we have to adjust to them.”

This season it is a new approach for the Bulldogs. Alberts says they are doing a lot of different things both when they the ball and when they don’t. “They run a lot more set plays. They try and push the ball a lot more and try and score in transition a lot more. They don’t press. They still play similar defense to what they did last year, where they switch every pick and just play half court defense. They never ran this many sets in the past, they ran a lot of continuity and tried to get shots and some isos. They don’t play any zone defense, at least the three games I have seen this year. Last year, they did mix it up a little bit and trap and do some different things. It is something we will have to adjust to, something we haven’t seen,” said Alberts.

Published 1/12/18

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Northwestern Needs More Consistency

Northwestern seems to be on the edge of being a pretty good team, but they just can’t get there quite yet.

They play at preseason Wayne County Athletic League favorite Rittman on Friday night.

Last Friday, the Huskies lost (71-65) to Smithville in a league game and coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they just had too many dry spells. “Smithville was kind of one of those games where we did not play the way we need to play for the entire game. Smithville is a very talented team with two really good players. I think the rest of their seniors kind of mix together well with them. We didn’t play as well as we needed to for the whole game. This week against Rittman it is going to be very similar. We need to play a lot more consistent for the 32 minutes,” said Alberts.

The Huskies (1-4,1-1) won the “WCAL” last year and advanced to the regional finals in division three. Alberts says the reason they were so good was they didn’t have these kids of lulls and that is what they are working towards. “Good teams play the entire game or they never have big lulls or stretches where they don’t play well. We are trying to get to that point. I think last year there were always times in the game when we didn’t play great, but we didn’t have very many of them and I think that is why we were so consistent throughout the year. So, hopefully that is something we can get to. Going against Rittman is going to be a tough night, but I am definitely confident in our guys that we can get after them at their place,” he said.

Rittman (5-1,1-1) also lost last week when Waynedale (71-66) beat them in a league game. Alberts says Indians have a good mix of players that can do a lot of things. “Their point guard was out and didn’t play in that game against Waynedale. I think that is a little more important than anyone wants to let on. I have watched them play and they are very talented. They have two very good players in William Swartz and Kaleb Bauman. They have had a kid move back in this year that is 6’10” and he is a little better than you realize,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “He is averaging I bet double figure points and four or five blocks a game. He is definitely a difference maker. He is not a great player, but he does some good things. They have those three and then they have a couple of other guys that played last year that can shoot. Their weakness is their bench. It will be interesting to see if we can combat what they have.”

Northwestern plays Colonel Crawford (5-1) in the Steve Smith Classic at the College of Wooster on Saturday. Alberts says it is a game where they will need to be outstanding. “I know that coach Sheldon does a great job with his team. McCreary is really good. He is one of the sophomores. I am anxious to see them and what kind of team they are. I know they had a nice year last year. I am anxious to see how we stack up against them,” he said.

Published 12/22/17

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Northwestern Faces Smithville

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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