DELPHI — North Montgomery erased an eight-point second half deficit to end a three-game skid and defeat Delphi 54-51 Friday night to advance to the Indiana Kitchen Holiday Classic championship tonight at Delphi.
Trailing 35-27 midway through the third quarter, the Chargers (4-4) ended the stanza on a 6-0 run, before Zak Searle gave the Chargers their first lead of the second half at 37-35 with a 3-point play at the 5:19 mark in the fourth quarter. Delphi tied it three times down the stretch, but never led again.
“The coaches on the bench were saying ‘we had to get it inside, we had to get it inside,’” first-year coach Chad Arnold said. “And that was hard because we had a lot of open shots on the first and second pass, but we started passing those up and pounded the middle. We got patient and got a lot more open shots.”
Through three quarters North Montgomery was just 3-of-19 from behind the arc, but finally turned to the paint in the fourth quarter. Led by Searle’s 7-of-9 effort, the Chargers made 17 trips to the free throw line in the final eight minutes, and connected on 13 of them. Searle scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth.
“He just brings energy,” Arnold said about the junior.
The Chargers were without the services of senior Preston Shaw and sophomore Jakob Kirsch due to injuries, and had other players limited in availability in the first half — so when a foursome of regulars picked up a pair of first half fouls, Arnold was forced to turn to the deepest part of his bench in the second quarter.
“We had some guys out tonight and some guys that weren’t able to play until the second half,” he said. “Every guy on this team from the JV up played big minutes for us and stepped up especially in that second quarter. We believe in everybody we have on our team that steps in there and gets ready to play. You just have to be ready. They never know when their minutes are going to come.” Nick Norman made one of the biggest impacts off the bench in the second quarter. With the Chargers trailing 22-20 midway through the period, the sophomore hit a 3-pointer and a layup to give the Chargers a 25-23 lead.
Delphi responded with an 8-2 run to end the half and take a 35-27 advantage into the break, before the Chargers clamped down defensively and held the Oracles (4-5) to just four points in the third quarter.
“In the third quarter we gave up four and kept No. 12 (Hudson) in front of us a lot better,” Arnold said. “And then we got out more on the shooters a little more in the second half.”
Peyton Roth led all scorers with 15 points on five made triples to lead Delphi in scoring. Roth buried his fourth of five 3-pointer with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter to cut the North lead to 47-46, but Kobel and Searle each hit consecutive free throws at the other end to help ice the game for the Chargers.
Bradford led North Montgomery with 14 points, while Kobel added seven to Searle’s 13.
North Montgomery plays a 6-3 Rossville squad in the championship game at 8 p.m. tonight at Delphi.
North Montgomery 54, Delphi 51
NM 15 10 8 21 — 54
DP 13 18 4 16 — 51
North Montgomery (4-4): Logan Kelly 2-7 0-0 6, Jaron Bradford 6-14 1-2 14, Zak Searle 3-5 7-9 13, Kade Kobel 2-5 3-4 7, Kolton Scrimager 1-1 1-1 3, Alex Wallace 0-5 1-2 1, Nick Norman 2-4 0-0 5, Brayden Martin 0-1 0-0 0, Jack Thompson 1-2 2-3 4, Keifer Carmean 0-0 1-2 1; Totals 17-44 16-23 54.