Truckers, Warriors ready for battle of state's top two ranked teams

Northern Ohio League crown on the line Friday at NHS.
Mike Greco
Feb 20, 2014

It comes down to one game.

Months of practicing, playing, having delays comes down to Friday night for the Norwalk Truckers and Ontario Warriors in boys’ basketball at NHS.

If the Truckers win, it will mean a share of the league crown and a rare four-peat.

If the Warriors win, they own the NOL solo.

And just as an added touch — Ontario is ranked first in the state in Division II and Norwalk second.

“We try to keep everything as normal as possible for the kids,’’ Truckers coach Steve Gray said. “The only difference is we’ll watch more film this week.’’

The game is expected to be a sell out, plus numerous media personnel.

“We tell the kids to try and enjoy it,’’ Gray said. “We feel fortunate. They’re excited to try and earn a NOL championship. It’s not going to be easy and it shouldn’t be.’’

Gray said winning the NOL is the top priority.

“It’s always been our goal,’’ he said. “They have a chance to achieve something special. It’s something we want to achieve.’’

Norwalk has been ranked in the state poll from the outset, as high as first and low as sixth.

“It’s great for the public and great for the media,’’ Gray said. “The NOL championship is something we can put up on our wall.’’

The Truckers are 20-1 overall, 10-1 in the NOL on the season.

Their lone loss was 63-61 to the Warriors Jan. 29, which ended Norwalk’s 57-game regular-season winning streak.

The Warriors are 21-0, 11-0 in their first NOL season.

“We found out we can’t take anything for granted,’’ Gray said of the first meeting. “We have to put the work in and have to put in the time. We need a quality week of practice to achieve success. They have our full attention this time.’’

The Truckers have reeled off six straight wins since the Ontario loss.

“We learned a valuable lesson at Ontario,’’ Gray said. “Since the Willard game we’ve been peaking. The second half against Huron (a 56-47 win Saturday) is about as well as we’ve played all year. We were down 13 in the first half.’’

Norwalk used a 33-5 run to pull away in the second half.

Looking back to the first game, Ontario jumped out to a 23-13 first-quarter lead.

The Truckers rallied and drew to within 63-61 in the final seconds, but couldn’t push forward.

Cameron Mack and Brandon Wagner led the Warriors with 20 points each.

Jeff Thomas recorded  a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Truckers. Ben Haraway contributed 15 points.

“Ontario just spreads you out defensively,’’ Gray said. “Mack is a great post, they have three great shooters on the perimeter and their guards can break you down off the bounce.”

Gray talked about the keys.

“The game comes down to Ben, Jeff and Grant (Hull),’’ he said. “They need to play Friday night and the role players need to be solid.

“The two big stats are rebounding and how many assists we have,’’ Gray added. “If we can get our court reversal and throw the ball inside-out, we have a shot offensively. We have to limit their second shot opportunities.’’

Gray is also looking forward to an enthusiastic crowd at NHS.

“We need the Norwalk fans to show up in force,’’ he said. “We need their help — to be loud and cheer for the Truckers.’’

* * *

Less than 150 tickets remained, as of Wednesday, for the Ontario at Norwalk boys’ basketball game Friday at NHS.

The games features the top two teams in the state in Division II (Warriors first and Truckers second).

Gates are slated to open at 4:45 p.m. Friday.

Norwalk sectional tournament tickets
NORWALK — Pre-sale tickets for the Norwalk High School boys’ basketball sectional game against the Galion Tigers in the second game (about 8 p.m.) at Bucyrus High School go on sale Monday.
Tickets are on sale in the athletic office from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students. All tickets at the door are $6.

NL sectional tournament tickets
NEW LONDON — Pre-sale tickets for the New London boys’ basketball sectional tournament game are on sale in the high school office.
Tickets will be available for purchase until noon on game day.
The Wildcats are scheduled to play Bucyrus in the second game (about 8 p.m.) Tuesday at Lexington High School.
Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students.

Edison sectional tournament tickets
MILAN —Presale tickets for the Edison boys’ basketball sectional tournament game in the high school office are on sale days between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The Chargers are scheduled to play Margaretta in the second game (about 8 p.m.) Wednesday at Oak Harbor High School.
Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students.



Go Truckers! K.S.A.!


Go Truckers!