The problem every Northeastern opponent faces when it plays the Bobcats isn't if a big scoring run is going to occur.
It's a matter of when.
For Central York on Tuesday, Dec. 19, that run happened right at the start of the second half and the only thing that ended it was the final buzzer.
Northeastern led by five at the break, but held the Panthers to just 14 second-half points, turning a highly-anticipated York-Adams League Division I boys' basketball showdown into a lopsided 59-42 home victory.
"We have options," Bobcats head coach Jon Eyster said about his team's scoring runs. "We can go from one end of the floor to the other pretty quickly. So, bad shots, turnovers, we can turn them into transition points pretty quickly."
For Eyster to say that his team has options is an understatement. It's not just that Northeastern has scoring options, but it has three or four players who can take over a game.
On a night when Antonio Rizzuto went two-plus quarters without a point, missed seven consecutive shots and battled foul trouble, the Bobcats' offense didn't miss a beat. That was, in large part, thanks to Fred Mulbah, who showcased his versatility by hitting deep shots and driving to the basket, either finishing or setting up his teammates. He finished with a game-high 22 points.
"When I get into attack mode, whoever is in front of me, I'm trying to go by," Mulbah said. "I'm trying to create for our team. If the best option is for me to finish, I'll finish. If the best option is for me to dump it off, I'll dump it off, just to get everybody involved and get us a nice cushion."
The game quickly went south for Central York (2-2 overall, 1-1 Division I), after it only managed three points in the third quarter. It wasn't a product of a lack of effort, but rather a lack of execution that cost the Panthers.
"I think our offense went really stale and we have to find ways to get buckets," head coach Kevin Schieler said. "They're going to continue to score and, if we have a bad quarter like that, it gives them that lead and that's tough to come back from."
Both teams started hot and the first quarter highlighted both teams' abilities to score. Northeastern (5-0, 2-0 D-I) held a slim 18-16 lead and constantly tried to extend it in the second quarter, but Central hung around.
Once the first eight minutes ended, nothing came easily on offensive for the Panthers, but they continued to battle and second-chance points kept them in it. Of Central's 12 points in the second quarter, 10 came on second-chance opportunities and, had it not been for a Nate Wilson 3-pointer at the buzzer, the Panthers would've been within a possession at halftime.
Tightening up defensively was the message during the break for the Bobcats and they delivered, holding the Panthers to just one 3-pointer in the third quarter to break open the game.
"Our defensive rebounding in the first half was horrible and we tried to focus on that when we came back out in the second half," Mulbah said. "We did better, but it still wasn't great, but we were playing defense."
Aside from Mulbah's 22, Wilson added 17 points on 8 of 11 shooting, which included knocking down eight of his final nine shots. Despite his rough night, Rizzuto still cracked double figures with 10 points.
The Panthers got 11 points from Braden Richard and 10 from Landyn Ray, the only two players to crack double digits.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org