Woodstock North boys hoops tops Harvard

WOODSTOCK – Woodstock North did precisely what it wanted to after a dissatisfying first half against Harvard.

“We had a whole new attitude coming into the second half,” Thunder junior guard Josh Jandron said. “We talked at halftime that we needed to get more intensity and play better defense. We shut them down defensively and cranked it up on the offense after that.”

North made all but two of its second-half field goals from the lane and pulled away for a 61-48 nonconference boys basketball victory Wednesday night, the Thunder’s first win of the season.

The Hornets (0-1) led at halftime, 28-25, and stayed with North (1-4) until early in the fourth quarter. The Thunder kept working inside to either score or get to the free-throw line. North was 12 of 18 on free throws in the second half.

“We struggle from the outside,” Thunder coach Steve Ryan said. “We don’t shoot the ball that well, so we’re going to run our offense, split gaps and get to the basket for some easy shots. Josh (Jandron) and Junior (Ortiz) really controlled the tempo and got us those shots. We were more in a flow in the second half.”

Forward Nick Herscha had game-highs of 21 points and 15 rebounds, while forward Drake Creighton and Ortiz added 14 each and Jandron scored 10.

“In the first half, we played terrible defense,” Herscha said. “We were giving up wide-open shots and we got our act together in the second half. Our guys were getting in their faces and making for harder passes, harder shots and not giving them open 3-pointers. We were just working harder on defense.”

Harvard only trailed 45-44 with 6:35 remaining in the fourth quarter when Jandron drove for a layup and whipped a pass to Herscha for a 14-footer and a 49-44 lead. The Hornets then lost guard Justin Nolen to a fifth foul.

Already, guard Angel Sanchez (shoulder) and forward Zach Martin (ankle) were on the bench with injuries suffered in the game, so without Nolen, Harvard was down three starters. Hornets coach Donnie Nolen said he did not realize his son had four fouls.

“[Three starters missing] is kind of why the fourth quarter looked like it did,” Donnie Nolen said. “The guys who were in there battled hard. When we would do our offense, it was great. We got going a little fast in our offense some times and took shots too early.”

Justin Nolen led Harvard with 13 points and Fernando Carrera added 12.

The Thunder shot 52.2 percent (12 of 23) in the second half and committed only four turnovers.

“We talked about it in the fourth quarter that we were hitting shots inside,” Jandron said. “And that’s all we needed. It was working, so stick with it.”