A high- octane pressure defense and a potent offensive attack led by his three returning senior starters was more than enough for coach Steve Gray and his Norwalk boys’ basketball squad.
The Truckers rolled to their 49th straight regular season victory and their first Northern Ohio League win of the year — a 66-32 win over Bellevue Friday night.
Norwalk is 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the NOL on the season.
“We wanted to pressure the ball and get the game as fast as we could get it,” Gray said. “We think one of our strengths is transition.”
And Gray had it right on the button, as Norwalk forced four Redmen turnovers at the start of the game and parlayed those miscues into an 8-0 run and an early 11-2 lead.
It was 21-9 at the first break.
Senior standout Ben Haraway sparked Norwalk to a 10-5 run over the first three minutes of the second stanza, scoring all 10 of his team’s points.
Haraway tallied 12 in the period, as the locals led 44-21 at the intermission.
In the second half, the Truckers outscored Bellevue 14-7 in the third quarter and 8-4 in the fourth to put this one safely into the win column.
Haraway and Jeff Thomas finished with 19 points each and classmate Grant Hull contributed 15 to the Norwalk offensive attack as nine different players scored.
The Truckers enjoyed another fine shooting night, hitting on 27-of-53 shots from the field — including 5-of-14 from behind the arc and connecting on 7-of-11 free-throw attempts.
Norwalk grabbed 27 rebounds, with Thomas and Haraway nabbing five each. Haraway, Hull, and Jordan Johnson totaled 11 steals on the night between them.
Josh McNeely scored eight points and Ross Gerwin seven to lead Bellevue.
“It was a team effort tonight,” Gray said. “We talked about respecting our opponent, and that means doing things our way.”
In reserve action, a 12-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter fueled the Truckers to a 61-35 victory.
Norwalk’s Jaycee Jordan had six of his game-high 19 points during the spurt.
Brandon Kopfstein tallied 11 points, Travis Cring added nine and Griffin Rinner chipped in with eight.
Bellevue's Kyle Geary led his team with eight points and four rebounds, while teammate Marcus Nelson had six points.
Norwalk returns to action tonight, hosting Tiffin Columbian with an opportunity to rack up their 50th regular season victory in a row.
“Tiffin is an outstanding team,” Gray said. “We have an opportunity to do something special (50 straight wins). Saturday will be a celebration for Norwalk basketball past and present.”