Boys basketball: Andrean beats Griffith to remain perfect in NCC play
By Ryan Haskell Post-Tribune correspondent January 25, 2013 11:20PM
Andrean senior Nick Davidson puts up a lay-up past Griffith junior Chad Noldin during their game Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, at Andrean High School in Merrillville, Ind. | Scott M. Bort~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 27, 2013 6:18AM
MERRILLVILLE — This was not the play Griffith coach Gary Hayes drew up for his players after calling a timeout trailing by four points with 6:23 left in the game.
But it definitely was the turning point of the game.
The Panthers let a monstrous opportunity slip out of their hands as Andrean senior Matt Ruberry made the first of his back-to-back steals that resulted in a pair of D.J. Gonzalez layups on the other end, and eventually led to a 62-51 Northwest Crossroads Conference win for the 59ers on Friday night.
Andrean outscored Griffith 18-11 following that timeout to avoid what could have been the biggest upset of the year.
Instead, the 59ers (13-1, 4-0) improved their home record to 17-0 over the past two seasons and remained undefeated in NCC play with games against Lowell and Munster on the horizon.
The 59ers have never won the NCC title.
Defense saved the day this time.
“We were really struggling to make a shot tonight,” said Andrean coach Carson Cunningham, referring to his team’s 71-point average. “But we were fortunate our defense held and we were able to put enough points on the board.
“We were off kilter with our shooting but outside from the second quarter (where Andrean gave up 20 points), our defense was strong.”
The 59ers stormed out the gates strong, taking a 18-9 first-quarter lead.
But the Panthers’ youth took over in the second quarter as freshman Anthony Murphy knocked down a big 3-pointer, along with a pair of 3s from junior Rodney Lewis.
Hayes said he changed his offensive strategy a week ago and it paid off nicely. Griffith knocked down seven 3s and shot 12-for-15 (80 percent) from the free-throw line.
“We did a much better job taking care of the ball,” the former Purdue Calumet and Calumet College coach said. “I started to run a spread offense in practice so we had more ball-handling, catching and squaring and all that stuff. And then our rebounding improved and our free-throw shooting looked good.
“We’d be sitting here at 10-2 if we could’ve just shot 55 percent at the free-throw line (prior to tonight). But it is what it is. We’ve got a young team and that happens.”
Griffith (6-7, 1-3) went into halftime trailing just 31-29.
“This was our best effort of the year,” Hayes added. “We haven’t been shooting the ball that way and I tried to give my post players some space.”
But Ruberry (4 steals, 4 assists) and Gonzalez (team-high 17 points) ruined the moment in the fourth quarter.
Ruberry’s steal led to a Gonzalez basket right after the timeout, then Ruberry made another steal in the backcourt that he shoveled to Gonzalez which increased the lead to 48-40.
Cunningham said the veterans stepped up as they should.
“Matt Ruberry and D.J. Gonzalez have played a lot of minutes for us a lot of years,” he said. “They have very active hands and they are very cerebral players and made some real nice plays down the stretch for us.”
Ben Parish led the Panthers with 13 points and six rebounds. Nick Davidson tallied 16 points and a team-high five assist for the 59ers.