CANAL FULTON: There is a lot of change going on at Northwest High School.
By next year, indoor sports will move from the gym at the middle school to the 5-year-old high school building where a gym is being constructed.
Northwest is in its first year of not playing in a league. Scheduling is a big obstacle, and that means playing larger schools like Copley, which defeated Northwest 68-54 Tuesday night in a nonleague battle of the Indians at tiny Northwest Middle School.
Northwest has played several Division I schools, one reason its record is 6-6.
Coach Mike Lower has the players hustling and refusing to back down from playing such competition.
“We’ve had some exciting games against some exciting opponents. It is a challenge every night,” Lower said. “This is a stretch of six or seven Division I teams that, if we are willing to compete, we will get better.”
Northwest has applied to join the Portage Trail Conference in lieu of the impending departures of East Canton and Windham, but so far, has not been accepted.
Kenny Paramore, a 6-foot-1 junior who led Copley with a game-high 22 points, hopes his Indians (8-4) can still get a piece of the Suburban League title, where they are 5-2. League leader Nordonia has not lost.
“We came in here playing hard because we want to win out,” Paramore said.
Copley coach Mark Dente said: “It was a great game for us for a nonleague game. They are extremely well-coached and mixed up their zone defenses against us, which is what we normally see. Our quickness seemed to overcome that.”
Copley wanted to use its speed and quickness to force Northwest into an up-tempo game that would make the hosts panic and either make errant passes or take quick shots.
A putback rebound basket by Paramore gave Copley a 17-16 lead after the first quarter.
At halftime, Copley went into the locker room up 35-31 following two 3-point shots by Brandon Gathagan.
Mike Riley, a 6-foot-4 center who led Northwest in scoring, made 14 of his 21 points in the first half.
“We should have gotten him the ball with the advantage we had in height,” Lower said.
The lack of size is something Dente and the team have talked about this season. They are averaging 68 points in the past 10 games.
“Our defense is our offense. We are an undersized team and we press for 32 minutes; they present matchup problems,” Dente said. “One of the things I told them tonight we’ve seen that [bigger players] before; it is irrelevant. … Our kids are starting to believe.
Ryan Brotherton had 15 points for Northwest and Dan May added 10.
Jayln Tyler, a 6-2 junior who scored 17 points, likes the hectic, in-your-face, pressing defensive style that Copley plays.
“We come out here and play with energy and we have the heart to play against bigger players,” Tyler said.
Lower said: “We’ve played Kenmore, Jackson and a few others. The thing that impressed me more is not only that they play quick, but they play hard.
“They played harder than any team we’ve faced this season and that was key. We have another one Saturday night at home against GlenOak.”
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