Ranger cagers second
By Jesse Phelps
Even without its starting point
guard, the Nordhoff basketball team performed admirably in last
week's 61st annual Nordhoff Boys' Varsity Basketball Tournament,
beating Channel Islands and Kilpatrick before losing to a skilled
Hueneme team, 61-54, in the final.
Rangers forward Ben Bower and center A.J. Maulhardt earned all-tournament
honors. Maulhardt averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds over the
three games, turning it up a notch in the final game, in which
he scored 25 points and secured 15 boards.
Nordhoff played the tournament without five of its regulars,
who were still competing in the CIF football play-offs, including
starting point guard Ryan Whitcomb.
Against the Vikings, the Rangers could have used him. Nordhoff
jumped out to a 6-2 lead early on, employing a 2-3 zone to stifle
Hueneme's half-court game. But a series of turnovers, including
two steals by all-tournament guard DeShion Inniss that led to
breakaway lay-ups, put the Rangers in an 11-9 hole heading into
the second period.
Nordhoff briefly took the lead again in the second but Inniss
answered with a three-pointer. Then the Hueneme pressure defense
really began to bother the Ranger guards, and the Vikings went
on an 11-0 run. Rahim LeBlanc's three-pointer at the buzzer gave
Hueneme a commanding 33-17 lead heading into the half.
Maulhardt's interior presence proved a boon for the Rangers in
the second half. His three-point play with a minute left in the
third cut the Viking lead to 46-35. Bower, who hit nine of 10
free throws on the night, kept the Rangers in it in the fourth,
but Hueneme employed a mini-four-corner stall tactic to slow
the pace of the game and the Rangers never got closer than seven
the rest of the way.
Bower finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Forward T.J.
Murphy finished with four points, seven rebounds and four nice
assists, three to Maulhardt on pretty interior passes.
"He's a good postplayer, one of the best centers in the
county, so we try to get him the ball," said Murphy of his
connections with Maulhardt.
Bower said the Rangers, playing with just three returning players
from last season, felt good about their second-place showing.
"It's as close as we've come to beating these guys in about
10 years, so we're definitely satisfied," he said.
Hueneme, which repeated as tournament champs, was led by Inniss'
16 points. All-tournament selection Charles Dillon added nine,
including a breakaway dunk, and Josh Pinkard scored 10. He also
made the all-tourney team.
Nordhoff's varsity boys' basketball squad is currently playing
in the Fillmore tournament through Saturday and will play at
Santa Ynez next Wednesday.
Nordhoff's 23rd annual Frosh/Soph Tournament will be held Dec.
26, 27 and 29 at home.
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