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GOSHEN – North Oldham has set a pattern this year of playing ugly in the first half only to storm back in the second. That’s how last month the Mustangs beat North Hardin and South Warren and how they nearly beat Male.
But Saturday night North followed up an awful first half with a second period that was just as poor.
Senior guard Devon Johnson scored 19 points to lead Iroquois (10-2) past host North (5-7), 66-42. The Mustangs struggled across the board, shooting 23 percent from the floor (8-of-35), hitting just 60 percent of their free throws (21-of-35) and getting outrebounded 39-28.
The rebounding number was especially upsetting for coach Chris Stobaugh. The Raiders, ranked No. 13 in the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Dave Cantrall ratings, grabbed 17 of their 39 rebounds on the defensive end.
“We just don’t rebound well enough,” Stobaugh said. “We’ve got a small margin for error because we’re undersized and not very athletic. So when we give up a bunch of offensive rebounds like we did, then we’re going to struggle.
“It’s across the board. If the basketball doesn’t fall in our lap, we don’t get it. We have nobody, and I mean nobody, that has the desire, the will to go get it.”
The game was officiated with a tight whistle early on. Twenty-seven fouls were called in the first half, with 14 on North and 13 on Iroquois.
Early foul trouble sent senior Mustang post players Adam Klingeman and Justin Cundiff to the bench for much of the first half. North had trouble getting that production replaced by a rotating cast of players.
The Mustangs scored just four points in the first quarter, trailing 11-4 after the opening eight minutes. They drew within 19-16 on a Klingeman basket in the second quarter, but the Raiders finished the half on a 9-2 run to take a 29-18 lead into the locker room.
Iroquois continued that momentum in the third quarter, opening on a 7-0 run. North never drew within 13 points for the rest of the game.
Klingeman and junior guard Jon Jon Henry led the Mustangs with nine points apiece. No other North player scored more than five points, something Stobaugh attributed to a stagnant offense.
“We’ve got guys who are overplayed and honestly I think sometimes they don’t want the basketball,” Stobaugh said. “They just stand there and let themselves be denied. We talk at length about back-cutting and screening up and those things. It’s a long road.”
It’s unclear when North might play again. The Mustangs are scheduled to travel to Jeffersontown at 7:30 p.m. Monday, but winter weather may force a cancellation. The same could be true of their home game against Collins, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
North’s next scheduled game after Collins is a Friday night road matchup at Eminence.
“The good thing is we don’t play many teams like that,” Stobaugh said of Iroquois. “They’re the opposite of the 8th Region. But it’s good for us because it shows us where we need to improve and what we need to work on.
“So I guess moving forward we’ve got to continue to commit ourselves to rebounding the basketball.”
Iroquois – 11, 18, 18, 19 – 66
North Oldham – 4, 14, 10, 14 – 42
Iroquois – Johnson 19, Little 12, Bowling 8, Smith 7, Forehead 7, Martin 6, Miller 4, Saunders 2, Malitshanga 1
North Oldham – Jo. Henry 9, Klingeman 9, C. Burton 5, T. Burton 4, Heckenberg 4, Hammock 4, Cundiff 3, Glasscock 3, Jones 1