Southview’s Nate Kalniz (4) lands on Northview’s Alek West during their game Friday night at Southview. THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
First place in the Northern Lakes League wasn’t the only thing on the line Friday night at Southview High School.
So, too, were city bragging rights. And that might have been more important.
In front of a jam-packed, boisterous crowd that could have made the fire marshal nervous, Southview’s boys defeated rival Northview 56-49 with a blend of lockdown defense and hot shooting.
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IN PICTURES: Southview 56, Northview 49
“We had seven more than they did — that’s what I liked,” Southview coach Bruce Smith said. “At no point did I think we were safe. Not until the clock ran out.”
There was reason for Smith’s unease. Southview (7-5, 5-1 NLL) led by 17 points late in the third quarter and by 14 with 100 seconds left in the game, enough that people already had begun exiting the gymnasium. A combination of three missed free throws — all on the front end of 1-and-1s — and a turnover led to an avalanche of points for the visiting Wildcats.
Suddenly, a 14-point deficit was trimmed to four.
The return of clutch free-throw shooting saved Southview the heartache of a blown double-digit fourth-quarter lead to their crosstown foe. But the Cougars were outscored 21-14 in the final quarter, contributing to a spike in the collective pulse rate on the home sideline.
“We had some poor free-throw shooting, but we came out with the W. That’s all that matters,” said Southview’s Ryan Fries, who scored a team-high 20 points.
“It feels great,” Fries said when asked what it’s like to enter the coveted shooting zone. “It’s the best feeling in basketball. I was just trying to get open and convert.”
Southview’s Jason Johnson, Will Woodall, and Zech Miller had nine points apiece.
Logan Jessing of Northview led all scorers with 24 points, including a thunderous two-handed dunk in the midst of the Wildcats’ comeback bid. Alek West had 10 points.
There was constant energy inside the Southview gym, with first place at stake. The 1,906-person maximum may have been breached.
Northview (8-4, 4-2 NLL) immediately jumped out to an 8-2 lead. But a 14-1 run gave Southview control of the game early in the second quarter, and it never relinquished the lead after the first points of the second quarter.
Southview led by as many as seven in the second quarter and by four at halftime. It outscored Northview 20-11 in the third quarter, leading by at least 10 for almost the entirety of the second half until the final minutes.
The Cougars are tied atop the NLL standings with Perrysburg, who they beat 55-36 last week. The teams meet again Feb. 10 in Perrysburg.
Northview, one game back, is the defending NLL champion, a title the team intends to keep.
For now, the date circled on the calendar is Feb. 17, when the Wildcats have an up-close rematch with Southview on their home court.
“[Tonight] was about first place in the league, which is what we needed,” Smith said. “It feels good.”
Ryan Fries drains a shot for Southview with a hand in his face. THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Southview’s Ryan Fries celebrates as Northview calls a timeout. Fries had 20 points for Southview, which is tied with Perrysburg for the NLL lead. THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON