High school boys basketball: Weber Warriors' second-half surge sinks Northridge Knights
LAYTON — Like they always say, it's tough to keep a good man down.
And the same holds true for a good team, too.
So when Weber High, struggling through an uncharacteristic two-game losing spell, fell behind by seven points at halftime of Friday's Region 1 boys basketball game against Northridge, the Warriors didn't panic.
Instead, led by 6-foot-3 senior guard Hayden Schenck and 6-4 senior forward Garrett Beckey, Weber came out playing much more desperate, determined and defensive-minded and outscored Northridge 40-19 in the second half to knock off the Knights 59-45 at the 'Ridge.
"They all count the same, but that's the biggest win of our season — no question," said Weber coach Mark Larsen. "Syracuse is a good team and they got us last week, and we knew if we wanted to stay right there and keep giving ourselves a chance (in the region race), we had to come in here (and win) tonight.
"And we were fortunate enough and we guarded well enough tonight that we were able to pull it out. Northridge is a great team, so to come here and get one is extremely difficult."
Weber, which started the season 12-1 before falling on some hard times, improved to 13-3 overall and 2-2 in Region 1.
"That win was huge for us," Schenck said. "We talked as a team and that was one we had to get for region for the rest of the time. Everyone came together at halftime and we played a heckuva second half, played hard on the defensive end, and it worked out for us."
Schenck, 5A's leading scorer with an average hovering around 27 points per game, had just nine points by halftime, and Northridge's Preston Christensen poured in 17 first-half points to help give the Knights a 26-19 cushion at intermission.
But Schenck came out with guns blazing in the second half, scoring 19 of his game-high 28 points, and Beckey contributed 12 second-half points of his own as the Warriors caught and passed the Knights with an 18-5 flurry in the third quarter.
"Coach (Larsen) had a great halftime speech," said Schenck, who was 11 of 12 from the foul line, including 8 of 9 in the fourth quarter alone. "He told us the game's gonna be won on the defensive end. He said we were playing our hearts out on defense, but we needed to talk more and pick up on Christensen; he had 17 at half.
"So we came out, Garrett did a great job on Christensen — he was up in him — and Christensen didn't play great but he got in foul trouble. So it ended up working out good and everyone came out with momentum and playing hard."
After seizing the momentum in the third period, Weber kept the pedal to the floor in the fourth quarter, outscoring Northridge 22-14 thanks in part to some superb 10-of-12 foul shooting to pull away.
Beckey, whose bun head hairdo resembles that of Chicago Bulls' big man Joakim Noah, said the Warriors fully realized the importance of Friday's game.
And, after a tentative opening half, he felt that he and his teammates finally played with much more of a sense of urgency after halftime.
"We were passive in the first half," he said. "We were waiting and watching to see what they were gonna do and not reacting to it.
"Not only for our record, but I felt like for our confidence, we needed (the win), too. I felt like if we lost this, some of them probably would've hit the panic button just a little bit. But I felt like this win was for all of our confidence, so I thought that was a good win for us."
His coach certainly gave Beckey plenty of credit for Weber's second-half turnaround.