Greensburg — For the first 31 minutes and 55 seconds of the North Decatur boys basketball team’s home loss to Eastern Hancock Saturday, head coach Kyle Nobbe and the Chargers thought they had the Royals right where they wanted them.
North led Eastern Hancock through the first three quarters and most of the fourth in the 31-30 loss. However, a pair of free throws – the only points of the final eight minutes - were all it took for the Royals to overcome an offensively challenged matchup and seize the win.
The Chargers had not allowed fewer than 32 points since Dec. 11, 2011, a 44-27 win over South Decatur. They also gave up as few as 27 in a 54-27 win over Triton Central on Dec. 22, 2005.
North jumped out to an early lead and doubled up on the Royals, 16-8 after the first quarter. Putting North on the board first were sophomores Luke Badgley and Andrew Hocker with 3-pointers. The Royals scored the next five points, but North surged back ahead with an 8-0 run to go up 14-5.
The Royals climbed to within five to start the second quarter, but North sophomore Evan Wallpe took over with six second-quarter points. North led 22-15 at the half.
Eastern Hancock started the second half with a triple, but Wallpe answered with four quick points. North went up 26-18 with a Wallpe score off an assist by sophomore Dayne Lecher.
The Royals, though, went on a 7-0 run to pull to within one. North’s lead shrank to 26-25 with two minutes left in the third. Just 30 seconds later, sophomore Arek Holloway grabbed a steal and scored to make it a three-point game again, with North leading 28-25. Wallpe took another pass from Lecher to end the third-quarter scoring, making it 30-25 with 45 seconds left.
Little did Nobbe and the Chargers know, it was the last time North would score.
According to Nobbe, North missed 18 shots in the paint.
“You should win these games,” said Nobbe. “Some of it is finishing around the basket. If we make our shots throughout the game, we don’t have to worry about the fourth quarter.”
The Royals scored just four points in the fourth, but neither team scored until the 2:37 mark.
Two key possessions appeared promising for the Chargers. Andrew Hocker avoided a turnover and extended the possession that ate a minute off the clock. Moments later, North saved a ball from going out of bounds to Eastern Hancock. However, it ended in a turnover as a Royal picked up a loose ball and was fouled with 5.5 seconds left. The free throws gave the Royals their first lead of the day.
North called a timeout with 2.8 seconds to go. Unfortunately for the Chargers, a shot at the basket missed its mark and North came away empty-handed.
The Royals captured a clear advantage on offensive rebounds.
“Those extra possessions killed us,” said Nobbe. “What we weren’t doing in the game (committing turnovers, missing shots), we were doing in the fourth quarter. When you don’t do those things, you have a good chance to win the ballgame. It’s mental maturity and finishing possessions. That’s something we’ll get better with.”
Despite the offensive struggles, Nobbe applauded his team afterward for playing fundamentally sound.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” he said.
Wallpe led all scorers with 17 points on eight field goals, and the only double-digit scorer of the game. Badgley and Donovan Meyer each followed with a 3-pointer. Andrew Hocker scored three, while Holloway and Lecher finished with two apiece.
North shot 3-for-4 in its limited trips to the foul line.
Cooper Henderson led the Royals with nine points.
The North junior varsity team fell to Eastern Hancock 32-27 in the first game. North led 6-5 at the first stop, but like the varsity game, the Chargers were hurt by a scoreless quarter. The Royals led 12-6 at halftime. North outscored the Royals 21-20 in the second half, but the second-quarter drought proved to be the difference.
Landon Crites led the JV Chargers with 12 points. He made a pair of 3-pointers. Ben Kinker followed with seven points on 4-for-7 from the foul line and a triple. Ignatio Martinez hit a pair of treys for six points, and Luke Perdue added two points.
North is next scheduled to host Hauser, a conference opponent, this Friday.
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.