NORTON: Norton’s flexible offense again caused headaches for opposing coaches and put up big numbers, this time against visiting Crestwood in an 82-47 win Friday night that keeps the Panthers undefeated in the Portage Trail Conference-Metro Division.
Norton (9-1, 5-0) had the usual scoring threat inside with 6-foot-7 senior Tyler Sherman and 6-6 junior Aaron VanBuskirk, but the Panthers shot out to a 48-19 halftime lead thanks to a couple of hot hands behind the 3-point line. In all, the Panthers made 10 3-pointers to go along with a height advantage inside.
“We’re a very versatile team,” Norton coach Rod Swartz said. “Even our bigs can step out and make threes. We’ve got kids who can shoot it and we’ve done a good job in recent weeks of going inside and out and utilizing all our talents. We want to play team basketball and it shows when we can make that one extra pass to the open man. Fortunately, we’re knocking down shots.”
Crestwood coach Al Mielcarek is well aware of Sherman and VanBuskirk, calling them “All-Stars” after the game Friday night. Mielcarek tried to take them out of the game, the same game plan used last season, when Crestwood took down Norton on their home floor. It didn’t work a second time.
“They didn’t shoot the ball as well then as they did tonight,” Mielcarek said. “Those two guys are really good so we tried to make other guys beat us. I think Norton’s the class of our league and they play as hard as anyone you see out there. It’s a polished program.”
VanBuskirk made it look easy with 16 points in the first half and 18 for the game to lead all scorers.
“He [VanBuskirk] is a stat-stuffer. He scores, he defends, he steals, he creates, he passes the ball. That’s outstanding for a kid who’s 6-5, 6-6, and it’s a tough matchup for people,” Swartz said.
Sherman, who averages a double-double, ended up scoring six points but did things away from the ball that Swartz has been preaching. In the Panthers’ 10 games this season, they’ve had a different leading scorer six times, according to Swartz. So Sherman has taken to doing the little things.
“I’ve talked to our guys, saying you’re not always going to be the leading scorer but there’s a lot you can do in a game,” Swartz said. “Tyler’s overall game has really elevated this year. He works hard in practice, he’s got more bounce in his step. It’s not just about who scores the points and he really understands that.”
Senior Matt McGlone did much of his damage in the second half and ended up with 16 points. Junior Justin Blanks added 10.
Mielcarek knows his team’s identity, and says his squad should put up around 50 points a night. What isn’t known, he says, is how the defense will play.
“It’s the defensive end, we gotta figure out how to contest 3-point shooters, make them pick that dribble up and drive and see what happens,” he said.
Crestwood was led offensively by senior Jacob Graves (10 points), sophomore Anthony Stuber (nine points), senior Jimmy Quesenberry (eight points) and senior Trevor Sweet (seven points). Sweet’s points might have came with a little more fanfare, as he threw down a dunk on a fastbreak and later corralled a missed shot in-air and dunked it again.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.