Northwestern responded to Tuesday's heart-wrenching loss to South Pointe by destroying Nation Ford 51-36 Friday night at Northwestern High School, keeping the Falcons winless in their first year in Region 3-AAAA.
The Trojans came out a little slow following the controversial one-point loss to the Stallions on Tuesday, when a clock error kept Northwestern from a possible win.
Nation Ford looked poised to upset the Trojans. Minutes into the third quarter, the Falcons' T.J. Everette scored the first points of the second half to give his squad a one-point lead.
Knowing how close the first game between the schools ended, Falcon fans could visualize their first region win.
Northwestern escaped a win in the first matchup, played in Charlotte's Bobcat Arena, behind guard Zach Beaver's late free throws. Not wanting a repeat performance, Trojan coach Mike Gossett opted to call for a full-court press to hassle the young Falcon squad.
Gossett's teams historically have not pressed much, but they way they played on Friday, it looked like the Trojans had been running the press for years.
The press turned the game around. The Trojans forced nine Falcon turnovers in the third quarter, supplying the ammunition for a 16-0 Northwestern run that put the game out of reach.
Beaver started the run with a deep 3-pointer, and Labris Adams and Will King took over from there. Adams had five of his 13 points during the run, while King added six of his game-high 18 points during the seven-minute stretch.
Everette finally hit a free throw with 42 seconds remaining to stop the bleeding, but the damage had been done.
Northwestern keyed on Nation Ford's two top scorers, Everette and point guard Sam Hirsch. Everette finished with a dozen hard-earned points and led the Falcons in scoring, but Hirsch had just three points in the game.
Hirsch never got into his usual groove and struggled all game with the Trojans' pressure. Hirsch had multiple turnovers that led to several fastbreak buckets for the Trojans.
Meanwhile, Northwestern had outstanding guard play. As Nation Ford keyed on the Trojans' post players, King, Adams and Beaver had a great night shooting.
The trio combined to score 42 points, including five 3-pointers. The 42 points were six more than the entire Nation Ford team.
Nation Ford held 6'9'' center Taylor Shugart without a point, but Shugart wreaked havoc on the Falcons offense. Despite the donut in the scoring column, Shugart came up with seven blocks and eight rebounds.
The Falcons jumped out to a nine-point lead in the second quarter when Eddie Caldwell scored on a putback, capping a 12-0 Falcon run. Included in the run was a 3-point bucket by Kent Peterson that just beat the first-quarter buzzer.
Northwestern chipped away at the Falcon lead, and took a one-point advantage into halftime on a Nigel Dixon 3-pointer with 2:00 remaining in the half. Neither team scored in the final two minutes of the first half.
"We responded well to the South Pointe loss and came out tonight and played very hard," said Gossett. "We normally do not run a lot of full-court press on defense, but it worked well for us tonight. It was great to see Zach (Beaver) and Will (King) shoot the ball well.
"Nation Ford plays very hard, and tonight was no exception. (Falcon head coach) Arthur Moore has done a great job with his team, and they will only get better in the coming years. I was glad to get out of here with a win, we are still in the thick of things as far as region play goes."
Northwestern gets a shot at the state's top-ranked team Monday when undefeated Fort Mill visits the Trojans in a make-up game. Nation Ford hosts archrival Fort Mill on Tuesday night in the first ever Falcon-Yellow Jacket game played at Nation Ford High School.
Northwestern 51, Nation Ford 36
Nation Ford -- Eddie Caldwell 5, D.J. Dinwiddie 5, T.J. Everette 12, Shawndell Payton 8, Kent Peterson 3, Sam Hirsch 3.
Northwestern -- Will King 18, Doug Sellars 2, Zach Beaver 11, Nigel Dixon 3, Labris Adams 13, Montavious Gayten 2, Fred Sumpter 2.
Nation Ford 11 7 3 15 -- 36
Northwestern 7 12 16 16 -- 51
3-pointers -- Northwestern 6 (King 3, Beaver, Dixon, Adams) Nation Ford 3 (Payton 2, Peterson). Total fouls -- Northwestern 15, Nation Ford 19. Fouled out -- Hirsch (NF), Chris Belton (NW).
Records: Northwestern 10-9, 7-2 Region 3-AAAA; Nation Ford 2-18, 0-10
Nation Ford 36