Trojans rip away ball in post and convert turnovers into layups against Northwestern.
SPRINGFIELD — Southeastern’s veteran-led team knows what to do with turnovers, and Northwestern found out on Tuesday. The Trojans stepped in front of passes and ripped away balls from Northwestern in the low post and turned the turnovers into layups.
Though Northwestern turned it over far less in the second half, they couldn’t overcome the damage done in the first. Southeastern pulled away in the game’s final 11 minutes to a 66-48 win.
Northwestern turned the ball over 17 times in the first half as the Trojans built a 33-19 halftime lead. Northwestern attacked inside and scored with the combination of Curt Walters and Ellis Ulery. After Northwestern narrowed the deficit down to seven points, Southeastern guard Jake Bertemes led an 8-4 run to end the third and help the Trojans start to pull away.
The Trojans (2-1) are coming off of a 13-10 season and return all but three players from last year’s squad. Most key returning players have seen multiple years on varsity. The team is looking to make a run at the Ohio Heritage Conference title and make a splash in the tournament. Southeastern played Tri-Village, the defending Div. IV state champions, to a two-point overtime loss on Saturday in a nonconference game.
“You never want to be content with a loss and I think we had opportunities to win that game (against Tri-Village), but it showed our kids play really hard and don’t back down,” Southeastern head coach Brian Hecker said. “… I’ve got kids that want to win. I think that having that winning mentality is very important.”
The Trojans showed that mentality on Tuesday when Northwestern rallied in the third quarter.
Southeastern committed three fouls in the first 90 seconds of the second half, which Hecker said made the team a little tentative on defense for awhile. Bertemes sat on the bench for most of the third quarter after picking up his third foul.
Northwestern started its third quarter rally with two back-to-back three-pointers by Shane Salley. Waters and Ulery then combined for 10 points in the paint to help Northwestern cut its deficit. But the Warriors couldn’t stop Southeastern after that.
“We talked the whole halftime about taking care of the basketball and getting the ball down low to our big’s,” Northwestern head coach Gerald Embry said. “We played great in the second half, but the second quarter just killed us.”
Ulery scored a basket with 3:08 left in the third to cap off a 10-4 run and cut Southeastern’s lead to 42-35. Hecker called a timeout and re-inserted Bertemes, who scored nine points over the last 10 minutes of the game to help Southeastern pull away.
“He brings the energy,” Hecker said. “He’s one of the leaders on our team with getting the guys together. But it’s not only him. We played well as a team down the stretch. We looked for each other and got some layups because we moved the basketball, set screens and made reads.”
Andrew Lyons, a junior guard, scored 12 of his game-high 20 points in the first half to help Southeastern build its lead. Bertemes finished with 16 points, while Trevor King added 12.
Walters scored 13 points for Northwestern, and Ulery added 12.
Southeastern unofficially made 23-of-40 (57.5 percent) attempts from the field while Northwestern made 19-of-36 (52.7). The Warriors outrebounded Southeastern 16-13; they had 24 turnovers to the Trojans’ 11.
Embry said the Warriors, who were 5-18 last season, are playing much better than a year ago. Northwestern (1-2) beat Greeneview by 12 points last Saturday for its first win of the season.
“We have better ball movement than we did at this point last year and the guys are playing better team defense,” Embry said. “We showed a little bit in the second half what we can do. We played even with (Southeastern) in the second half, and they’re a very good team. We’ve just got to learn how to put four quarters together.”
Northwestern and Southeastern are two of the few teams in the area who have played three games within the first week of the season. They’re both back in action on Friday. Northwestern hosts league rival Greenon to open CBC Mad River play, and Southeastern starts Ohio Heritage Conference play at Catholic Central.