By Harry Lichtman @hslichtman
KENSINGTON — The Northwood Gladiators boys basketball team returned to action Friday night as they took on the Titans at Albert Einstein High School. The action went back and forth between the two teams in the first half, but then the Gladiators dominated the second half and they toppled the Einstein Titans, 71-58.
All 14 of Northwood’s first-quarter points came from a different player. Raymon Washington-Battle, Jaden Bridgemohan, Bright Kari, Jalen Davis, Will Tawamba, and Nicholas Boboshko all contributed to the Gladiators’ 14-11 quarter lead.
The lead shifted a number of times in the second quarter between the two schools with buckets from Einstein’s Camren Ashby and Ryan Niemczuk, as Niemczuk led all scorers in the half with nine points, while Washington-Battle registered five points, all on free throws, to add to his seven points in the first half.
“I’d like to thank my team for finding me with open looks,” said Washington-Battle, “and just knocking down my free throws, and relying on my teammates, because they gave me open looks.”
With the halftime score tied 23-23, the second half was expected to feature more competitiveness. Instead, Northwood had other plans, as they forced turnovers, rebounded well, and made the shots they needed.
“I think it was a total team effort,” said Northwood head coach Phil Chenier. “All 12 guys played, and it was a total team win. I’m excited to see that continue throughout.”
Washington-Battle had an even more stellar performance in the second half, as he put up 15 points, including nine in the third quarter and six in the fourth, finishing with 22 points total for the game.
“Ray is special,” Chenier said. “He has a motor that I haven’t seen too often, and so we rely on that. He works hard, and we’re happy that he’s part of this team.”
Davis and Tawamba also finished the evening strong with double-digit points, as the two Gladiators registered 14 and 13, respectively.
Washington-Battle has also been impressed with Chenier, who is currently in his third year as head coach.
“I like the guys that transferred in, helped this team become better” said Washington-Battle. “We already won more games than we did last year, and I just like our team, the way we play. We play with confidence every game.”
Meanwhile, Titans head coach Rich Porac stated that the issues with his team included getting in foul trouble, failing to box out, and giving Northwood second shots.
“When you do that against a team that’s more athletic than you, and certainly bigger than you, you’re going to have a hard time winning,” said Porac. “I thought we played really hard, to be honest.”
Despite the loss, Ashby and Neimczuk led the way for Einstein with 19 and 12 points, respectively. Both of these seniors have earned Porac’s respect.
“Camren’s essentially a three-year starter,” said Porac. “He’s playing like a kid who’s had three years of experience. He’s big, he’s strong. He makes great decisions.”
Last year, Niemczuk had a hairline fracture in his back and cost him almost 14 games, according to Porac.
“What he needs to do is keep getting more game experience because he lost that last year,” Porac stated on Niemczuk. “But he’s one of our bigger kids and he can really shoot it.”
Northwood’s record improves to 3-1 as they next host the Churchill Bulldogs on Thursday, Dec. 20 at 7:15 p.m., while the Titans fall to 1-2 and next host the Paint Branch Panthers on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 7:15 p.m.