Defense helps Northridge overcome awful shooting performance

There were what seemed like a million statistical reasons why Northridge shouldn’t have won its 5A first round game on Tuesday.

For starters, the Knights only shot 25 percent from the field, including a stunning 11 percent in the first half. They missed 17 free throws, including numerous clutch attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime. Second-leading scorer Preston Christensen in particular struggled making just 1 of 13 shots.

Oh yeah, and Northridge also turned it over 19 times.

None of those stats mattered though. The only stat of consequence was the number 46.2. That was the average number of points Northridge opponents have scored this year — and Copper Hills was held to just 41.

Northridge has been the No. 1 scoring defensive team in 5A for most of the year, and when you play defense like that you can win a lot of games, even when you play ugly.

“It was a good high school game. I think both teams expected to play better, but when they didn’t you do the best you can and we came out on top,” said Northridge coach Chad Sims, whose team ended up winning 43-41.

It was a particularly satisfying result for Region 1 champion Northridge, which showed a little kink in the armor in the final game of the season falling to Davis 59-42. It was the most points the Knights had given up all year, but they had a renewed defensive effort because of it.

“We knew they were coming from a great region and we knew they had a lot of firepower,” said Sims. “We wanted to control the tempo. They missed some shots early, we missed some shots early, and obviously that kept the score down at halftime. I think we played our game in the second half, and that got them frustrated a bit.”

As bad as Northridge was offensively, so was Copper Hills. The Grizzlies shot 53 percent from the free throw line, 30 percent from the field and turned it over 20 times. They could’ve easily won despite all that had Dylan Carter’s shot at the buzzer not bounced off the front of the rim.

Next up for Northridge in the quarterfinals will be Lone Peak, the second-highest team in 5A this year at 65.0 ppg.

“They’re obviously a great team with a lot of scoring power, and we’ll obviously try and do a lot of the same things we’ve done all year, control the tempo a little bit and make free throws in the fourth quarter,” said Sims.

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