LINDEN — Tri-West entered Friday’s game at Sagamore Conference foe North Montgomery with one thing in mind.
The Bruins wanted to win for a chance to tie for the conference championship. Coupled with a 53-36 win over the Chargers, and Danville’s win over Crawfordsville, the Bruins finish as co-champs of the SAC.
Tri-West (9-9, 6-1) and North Montgomery (5-16, 2-5) battled evenly in the first part of the game. The Bruins held a 20-16 lead at halftime after a first half that neither team could gain momentum. However, a defensive adjustment by Tri-West proved to be North Montgomery’s downfall.
Bruins coach Adam Bontreger had his squad put more defensive pressure on the Chargers. And it worked. Tri-West outscored the North Montgomery 13-6 in the third quarter and won the second half 33-19.
Bontreger wanted to use the pressure to speed up the Chargers’ deliberate offense and he got the result he was looking for.
“We wanted to put more pressure on them and try to make them play faster than they want to,” Bontreger said. “We were able to make them take shots quicker than they wanted and we were able to get layups in transition which propelled us to the win.”
Chargers coach Andrew Evertts said the defensive pressure was a factor and took the team out of its game plan. He also pointed to the Chargers’ inability to hit free throws as contributing to the loss.
“We really were our own worst enemies,” Evertts said. “We were 0-4 from the line in the third quarter and only 9-of-16 in the game. We did some nice things in the start of the third quarter but we could not finish which has been a problem for us this season.”
Tri-West was led in scoring by senior Brayden VanSlyke’s 19 points. Bruins junior Luke Robertson scored 14.
North Montgomery junior Preston Shaw led the Chargers with eight points.
Tri-West will close out the regular season at home on Tuesday against Mooresville and Saturday against Indianapolis Ritter.
North Montgomery will finish regular season play Friday at Greencastle.