By: Luke Drase
With less than 20 seconds left in regulation, Northridge Prep and Latin found themselves in a deadlock in an important ISL conference matchup.
Northridge’s Joe Thursby calmly got the ball near the half court, crossed over his defender and pulled up from 18 feet only to see his shot hit nothing but net, giving Northridge the 36-34 win and move to 2-0 in the ISL.
Onions. Thursby loses his defender and drains the jumper. Northridge lead 36-34 with 3.1 seconds left. pic.twitter.com/8jwjWQDlhg
— IL Preps Insider (@ILPrepsInsider) December 15, 2017
“It was a play coach has where someone comes and sets a ball screen for me but I have to make a play based on what the defense was giving me,” said Thursby. “My defender reached so I just crossed over and just squared up.”
Northridge head coach Will Rey added: “Joe is a veteran player and kept his poise even on a night when he was having trouble getting good looks at the basket, but he stuck in there and didn’t back down.”
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the the Knights. Latin led for much of the game thanks to the play of their two talented juniors, Jackson Tanner and Ysrael Hernandez.
Throughout the first half, Hernandez brought the offensive punch with eight first half points, while Tanner served as an intimidating presence in the post, racking up several offensive rebounds and four blocked shots.
“They’re a big team, they’re aggressive and their really good,” said Rey on Latin’s first half rebounding performance. “They have most of their guys back from last year and we had two tough games with them last season. They’re a really well coached team and have a lot of hard-nosed competitors.”
Latin would extend their lead to seven points in the third quarter, but it wasn’t due to a lack defensive effort on Northridge’s part.
The Knights did a much better job securing rebounds, all while limiting Hernandez to one field goal in the second half.
“We knew we had to bear down defensively and get stops because Latin did a great job of not allowing us to score,” said Rey. “We did make some adjustments on offense but it came down to the defensive effort and just a lot of hustle plays, like taking charges that spell victory when you do them.”
It took Northridge until the fourth quarter to finally find the offensive spark they were looking for. The Knights abandoned their usual slower paced offense and started to play a bit more up tempo.
The change of pace and style combined with high trapping on the defensive end allowed Northridge back in the game. The Knights cut the deficit down to one point mid-way through the final frame on a Thursby pull-up 3 and took the lead just one minute later.
“I mean, yes we have our own style but we practice with chaos everyday,” said Thursby. “We will play ten on five, going against ten sophomores so we’re prepared to play fast, play tough, we’re prepared for everything and coach does a great job of that.”
The teams would battle back on forth over the final two minutes until Thursby hit his game winning shot, while a turnover by Latin on the final possession sealed the 36-34 win for Northridge.
Thursby’s finished with seven points, with five of those coming in the final quarter. Northridge’s leading scorer was Ryan Menocal, who had nine points and five rebounds.
Hernandez finished the night with a game high 11 points with Tanner adding eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
Latin, who dropped their first game of the season, will have a tough task against Lincoln Park on Saturday afternoon while Northridge will travel to Northtown for a Friday night contest.