Ben Haraway scored 23 points, Jeff Thomas added a double-double and Norwalk cruised past Sandusky 84-61 Friday night in Northern Ohio League action.
The Truckers (19-1, 10-1) shot 48 percent from the field and had four players score double digits in the win.
“I was really pleased the first 10 minutes of the second half,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said. “We challenged them at halftime to defend, and we defended very well for about 10 minutes. Then, when it got where it was, we lost interest a little bit. I give Sandusky credit. They fought and never quit.”
The Truckers host Huron (12-5) tonight in a non-conference matchup, and finish the regular season Friday when they host Ontario for the NOL title. The No. 2-ranked Warriors (20-0, 11-0) handed No. 4 Norwalk its lone loss of the season, 63-61 on Jan. 29.
“We are getting closer,” Gray said when asked if his team is where it needs to be heading into the final week of regular season action. “Everyone wants to talk about a week from now, but our biggest game on the schedule right now is (tonight). If we don't play well against Huron they are going to jump up and bite us. We'll enjoy this until we get home, and after (Saturday) we'll start thinking about what's in our future.”
Thomas made it a quick 3-0 when he converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 6:25 left in the first quarter. Sandusky (3-16, 2-8) had three straight turnovers, but Michael Delk managed to put up a score at 6:12.
From there though, it was all Norwalk, which closed out the quarter on a 16-2 run.
The Streaks managed to get good looks on their side of the floor, but went just 2-of-13 in the first quarter.
After missing his first four shot attempts, Jayrese Williams found some rhythm, scoring 11 points in the second quarter to give the Blue Streaks a spark.
But Norwalk went 10-of-18 from the field in the second, outscoring the Streaks 26-17 to take a 45-21 lead in to the half.
Norwalk opened the second half on an 8-2 run and cruised from there.
“There's not many teams around here that can run with us and when teams choose to do that, I think our kids get excited,” Gray said.
Norwalk had a 36-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Sandusky managed to find some bright spots.
Williams went 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the final quarter, and Deontra Palma added 13 points in the fourth for the Streaks, who shot 58 percent in the final eight minutes.
“No question, whenever you can play a team at the level Norwalk's at, it definitely makes you better,” Sandusky coach Dustin Sharp said. “We definitely did some good things, especially in that second half. I like the way we executed a lot better. We knocked down some shots.
“I liked how we ran some of our offensive sets as far as the dribble drive motion,” Sharp added. “We looked for the extra pass when we got to the paint. I thought that was why we were able to knock down some shots in the second half. Obviously we dug ourselves a hole the first half against a quality team. I think as far as the second half, we played them pretty even.”
The Blue Streaks matched Norwalk with 40 second half points.
“Williams is a really good player,” Gray said. “If he keeps his head screwed on right and continues to work at it, he's got a very bright future here, and Sandusky fans ought to be excited.”
Williams totaled 23 points for Sandusky, while Palma finished with 19.
Thomas' double-double included 20 points and 10 rebounds. Grant Hull and Breck Turner each scored 10 points for Norwalk.
In junior varsity action, sophomore Alex Harness led Norwalk with 12 points en route to a 54-40 win. Treven Johnson scored 12 points for Sandusky.