Petersburg’s offense takes control in second half, beats Northern 62-46

Dec. 22—ACCIDENT — Petersburg’s offense dominated the second half, doubling Northern’s production 40-20 in a 62-46 Vikings win at The Igloo on Thursday.

“We knew they were going to play a 1-2-2 zone, their size was gonna give us problems,” Petersburg head coach Stacey Berg said. “They’re very well coached, their zone in the first half gave us a lot of issues. We went into halftime, started making some minor adjustments.”

After a fast start offensively in the first quarter, the Huskies (2-2) struggled down the stretch, especially at the free-throw line.

“Second half, we definitely lost our composure,” Northern head coach Ron Opel said. “Things were working well in the first half. We lost track of some shooters in the second half. They’ve got some great shooters and came alive in the second half.”

The Huskies got off to a fast start to open the game, going on a 9-3 run.

Luke Ross and Abe Schilpp led Northern, either assisting or scoring on the Huskies’ four scores.

“Our inside play,” Opel said of what was working offensively. “We were getting good looks between Abe and Alex (Knauff). They were working well together and to Petersburg’s credit, they went in at halftime and made some adjustments. They took away the big guys and our guards never really stepped up.”

Knauff was also key for Northern with six points in the first quarter. He hit a layup to put the Huskies up 13-5 with 2:37 left.

The Vikings (5-1) ended the quarter on a 6-3 run to cut the deficit to 16-11.

Petersburg’s Caden Ours set up Kaleb Kuhn for a floater at the buzzer.

“Transition, that’s the name of our game,” Berg said. “We’re gonna run, we’re gonna look, we’re gonna find the open player and we’re gonna shoot. We’re gonna live or die by it.”

The Huskies led by as many as 10 points early in the second quarter. Knauff split a pair of free throws to go up 21-11 with just under four minutes left.

Up 26-19 with 4.7 seconds left before halftime, Northern was set to inbound. Coming out of the timeout, Kuhn stole the inbound pass and fired a contested corner 3-pointer at the buzzer and sunk it.

“Kaleb’s a player, he wants the ball,” Berg said. “It’s huge. Did we draw that up, of course not. That’s just a kid making a play.”

Petersburg went into halftime trailing 26-22.

After making six 3-pointers in the first half against Frankfort on Tuesday, the Vikings only made two in the first half against Northern.

Petersburg shot 2 of 13 from 3-point range, hitting 16%.

Northern’s 1-2-2 zone defense was a big factor.

“They’re long, they’re tall, they’re physical,” Berg said. “When you’re sitting their in that zone, they extend their arms and it makes a difference. It cuts down our passing lanes, made it very difficult for us to do what we wanted.”

The Huskies also benefited from generating steals on defense, creating six in the first half.

“That’s just our general nature,” Opel said. “We don’t really talk about looking to get steals. They just naturally go out and get them.”

The Vikings found their rhythm on offense in the second half. After Ross finished a layup off Robbie Rollman’s assist, Kuhn found Peyton Tingler who responded with a layup to cut Petersburg’s deficit to 30-27.

Tingler intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast for a layup to make it a one-point game.

About 90 seconds later, Tingler set up Carter Hardy for a layup, giving the Vikings a 31-30 lead with 3:34 left in the third quarter.

Hardy stepped up off the bench for Petersburg in the second half. He scored eight points with three assists and a steal, all after halftime.

“Carter has been working his way into our rotation,” Berg said. “He came to me and said give me that opportunity, I’ll show you. He came in, matched their physicality and it really made a difference.”

Schlipp gave Northern the lead back on a pair of free throws, but Petersburg ended the quarter on a 10-2 run.

“Our offense goes cold from time to time,” Opel said. “We don’t have the greatest offense in the world. We don’t have a lot of knockdown shooters. We go through stretches where it’s hard for us to score.”

Ours hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes to help the Vikings take a 41-34 lead after three quarters.

Petersburg took control in the fourth quarter as it maintained at least a nine-point lead until the end.

The game essentially came down to free throws in the second half.

“When you got a 30 second clock, being from West Virginia we only get that opportunity one time a year,” Berg said. “I think that starts playing into it. When they started getting to the line and started missing, it’s a game changer.”

Northern struggled at the line, shooting 3 for 16 in the second half (19%), including going 1 of 7 in the fourth quarter.

The Huskies finished 9 of 26 (35%) from the free-throw line.

“If I knew that, I’d be a millionaire because I could take that show on the road and sell it to every coach in the country,” Opel said of what factored into the misses. “I wish I could fix it. I don’t know if it was just mental, got caught up in the game, put too much pressure on themselves, who knows.”

The Vikings shot 5 of 8 (63%) at the line in the fourth quarter.

Bench scoring was another big factor as the Vikings combined for 26 points. Ours and Hardy teamed up for 18 points.

Kuhn led all scorers with 20 points. He added three steals and an assist.

Tingler scored 12 points with three steals and three assists.

“When the game is on the line, I’m gonna go to one of my leaders,” Berg said. “He’s gonna give us the opportunity to win or be there in the fourth quarter.”

Ours added 10 points with two assists.

Schlipp led Northern with 19 points, adding three assists and two steals.

“That’s what he does,” Opel said. “He bangs on the boards, he works the screens and rolls. He works the post-up game. That’s a typical Abe Schlipp game for you.”

Knauff and Ross each had 11 points. Ross also had four assists and a steal while Knauff added two steals and one assist.

The Vikings won the junior varsity game 40-25. Lucas Riggleman led with 17 points and Jackson Boddy scored 15. Jayden McNally led Northern with eight points.

The Huskies are at Conemaugh Township on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Petersburg has only played one home game so far, and Berg said it was by design.

“If you can win on the road and protect your house, your opportunities will increase,” he said. “I wanted to get our road games, test our kids, put our kids in tough atmospheres.”

The Vikings will host the annual Petersburg Holiday Tip-Off tournament beginning on Friday, Dec. 29.

Petersburg will play Union and Pendleton County faces Moorefield on Friday. The winners advance to the championship game on Saturday.

It’s the oldest high school basketball tournament in West Virginia dating back to 1960. Petersburg won last year, beating Moorefield in the title game 44-43.

“For us to be hosting that opportunity year after year is huge,” Berg said. “It’ll be sold out, the gym will be packed. It’s a tournament where a lot of our alumni come back. If there’s one game they’re gonna see, it’s always our holiday tournament.”

Jordan Kendall is a Sports Writer for the Cumberland Times-News. Email him with scores and story suggestions at [email protected].

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