Northern Nash has built its identity on a dominant press designed to create chaos.
And while their defense wins them plenty of the games, the Knights proved they are much more than a system team.
Wilson Hunt had almost no trouble with the Knights’ press, yet there still were no worries for Northern Nash in its Big East Conference opener Friday at Northern Nash High School, dropping Hunt, 55-34, and staying unbeaten.
“They handled our press really well,” Northern Nash coach Grover Battle said. “We had to switch a couple different things, go to some basic man defenses, but those are really our strength. That gave us some momentum.”
Northern Nash (11-0, 1-0) came into Friday night one of only three unbeaten teams remaining in 3-A girls’ basketball, and it looked as if a struggle was forthcoming after a slow-moving first quarter during which the Warriors (0-1) had no issue with the Knights’ press.
With the Warriors advancing across halfcourt with ease, the Knights began creating havoc in their defensive half with traps and pressure on the ball. Even with its regular methods not working, the Knights forced 27 turnovers.
“We knew coming in they were going to show us that 2-2-1 and diamond press, and we were ready for it,” Wilson Hunt coach Wayne Hardy said. “We just didn’t execute in the second half. We threw some lazy and weak passes, and when you throw weak passes against a good team like that, they’ll make you pay for it.”
Quinesha Lynch led Northern Nash with 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field, while teammate Alexus Hill scored 13 points.
Even though the normal slew of easy layups wasn’t there for Northern Nash, the Knights showed they can score in the half-court setting.
“We came out slacking, we did,” Lynch said. “They slowed it down, and it was up to us to deal with that.”
Battle said that while the Knights’ gameday product gives the allure they want to be a fast-paced team, their roots still reside in the half-court offense.
“The kids believe in running; I still believe in half court,” Battle said. “We still practice that more than anything else. We can still do (half-court) if we need it.”
Wilson Hunt 64, Northern Nash 43
A poor first half was too much for Northern Nash to overcome in its Big East Conference opener Friday at Northern Nash High School.
Twice in the fourth quarter the Knights (4-7, 0-1) cut the Warriors’ lead to 10, but Hunt (1-0) went on a 13-0 run to put away the game.
All 10 Warriors scored in the contest, led by Travon Davis’ game-high 17 points.
The Knights now have lost 11 straight Big East games dating back to last season.
“We were trying to control the tempo of the game, and we kept the score about where we needed it,” Northern Nash coach Rick Ruffin said. “We wanted to keep (the score) under 60, and we just about did that.
“We did a lot of things I liked in the second half. Unfortunately, we just dug ourselves too big of a hole.”
Northern Nash 55
Wilson Hunt 34
WH 8 12 4 10 – 34
NN 9 17 12 17 – 55
WH: Alexus Williams (13 points); Alexis Taylor, Danisha White (6 points); Kiana Ballard (4 points); Destiny Hinnant (3 points); Dani Harris (2 points).
NN: Quinesha Lynch (20 points); Alexus Hill (13 points); Shakyia Mercer (9 points); Camille Branch, Jordan Oldham (4 points); Suzie Sykes (3 points); Deja Lewis (2 points).
Wilson Hunt 64
Northern Nash 43
WH 15 17 13 19 – 64
NN 9 8 14 12 – 43
WH: Travon Davis (17 points); Daniel Westbrook (9 points); Keenan Tabron (8 points); Quan Kent (7 points); Justin Jefferson, Isaiah White (6 points); D. Sutton (4 points); Dexter Wright (3 points); Javis Neal-Hill, Jaylen Gilliam (2 points).
NN: Kendrick Richardson (12 points); Donte McNeil (9 points); Isaiah Alston (8 points); Kyree Clark (5 points); Darryl Prunty (4 points); Marcellus Major (3 points); Isacc Dupree (2 points).
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com