Tuesday, January 13, 2009

HOOPS: Northwestern vs. Northern

**sophomore Shaq Smith**
**Walter Trouser scored a career high 28 points**
**sophomore Shaun Coffer**
**Northwestern's Trence Cureton**

FLINT- Monday night Flint Northwestern and Flint Northern got together for a big time rivalry game with two schools that sit less than 5 miles apart from each other. Northern held ground on their home court with a 66-61 win in a hard fought game.

Northern held a 16-12 lead heading into the second quarter and guards Shaquille Smith and Carlos Benton were getting plenty of open looks in the opening quarter, forcing Northwestern to switch defenses to a 2-3 zone. The move worked as Northern went cold trying to shoot over the zone and only scored 5 points in the second quarter.

While Northern was going through their shooting woes Northwestern was off and running. Three buckets from Walter Trouser keyed a Wildcat 10-0 run to give Northwestern a 19-16 lead. Three of Northern's five second quarter points came on a Demetrius Peterson 3-pointer as the halftime horn sounded to cut Northwestern's lead to 22-21.

In the second half 5-5 sophomore Shaun Coffer exploited the Wildcat zone and his ability to break down the zone gave Northern their scoring edge back. Northern regained the lead on a Smith lay up with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The Vikings then switched defenses to a full court press and two forced turnovers turned into easy baskets for Smith and Benton to take a 56-62 lead with 3:26 to play. Those baskets proved to be the game's difference as Northern held off Northwestern for the remainder of the game.

BREAKDOWN: I won't get into any DeAndre Upchurch conversation but I will say Northwestern is not the same team anymore. Even without the obvious, (Upchurch's scoring) the Wildcats just seem to be unfocused and you can tell as a team that they are hurting on and off the floor without their teammate. But while they are struggling right now, don't expect to just see this team fade away because Coach Bush and staff will make sure this team bounce back.

On the other side, I like what I see out of Northern- they have some fight in them and they have a solid group of young talented players in Smith, Fisher, and Coffer. As this core continues to improve Northern will be tough to beat for the next couple of years.

PLAYER OF GAME: Shaq Smith, Northern- the sophomore 2-guard was quite impressive, although he did manage to pick up three fouls, all on offensive charges. For the most part I like his decision makings and his aggressiveness to attack the basket but at times he just needs to take the foot off the gas.


Donald Fisher, Northern- had 3 blocks in a two minute span of the first quarter while finishing with 6 blocks to go with 6 points and 5 rebounds. The older and more physical Chris Campbell tried to go right at the 6-7 freshman but Fisher held his ground.

Shaun Coffer, Northern-
Coffer has matured quiet a bit on the court and he uses his size to his advantage, forcing teams to contend with his speed. Coffer was solid in running the offense and moving the ball around when his teammates were struggling against the zone.

Walter Trouser, NW- had 11 of his game high 28 points in the second quarter when Northwestern took over the lead. Trouser will have to carry most of the scoring load for the rest of the season and he could have had 40 points in this game but plenty of shots just rolled in and out on the 6-2 senior.

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