Wyoming Godwin Heights slams NorthPointe Christian for share of OK Silver lead
Wyoming – In the midst of what amounted to a conference championship showdown, Wyoming Godwin Heights sophomore point guard Christian Rodriguez made a pinpoint pass to teammate Delaney Blaylock streaking toward the basket. Blaylock, who’d been quiet throughout much of the contest, hung in mid-air while slamming the ball through the net against Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian.
It amounted to an exclamation point for the host Fighting Wolverines in their 62-53 win.
The victory by Godwin Heights (11-1) avenges a three-point loss at NorthPointe Christian (10-2) less than two weeks ago. It also leaves both teams tied atop the Ottawa Kent Silver Division standings at 5-1.
“It’s big. We’re tied for the conference (lead),” Godwin Heights coach Tyler Whittemore said. “It was really good for our guys to stick together within the game plan and to do what I asked tonight.
“They performed great. I’m excited about it.”
He was thrilled to see the Wolverines prevail behind a spirited second-half run.
Blaylock, who leads the team in scoring (16.7 ppg), was assigned to prevent Christian point guard and leading scorer Preston Huckaby from dictating the tempo. He shut down Huckaby limiting the senior to two points.
It’s that sort of suffocating defensive pressure that permitted others in the Godwin Heights lineup to find the score sheet. Junior guard Leon Redd and senior forward Michael Williams led the Wolverines with 13 points apiece while senior forward Karon Patrick had 11 and Rodriguez added nine off the bench.
“It was a great pass from Christian Rodriguez,” Whittemore said of the alley-oop dunk. “You throw it up to the corner of the backboard and Delaney does what Delaney does. He’s very athletic, very long.
“He got that ball, pumped it down and got back on defense.”
Whittemore had high praise for Blaylock’s unselfish performance while letting others handle the scoring load. Blaylock and junior forward Richard Major finished with six points each.
“Delaney was guarding the other team’s point guard. He knew he had to do that and he used a lot of energy. He got a lot of rebounds, he had to play defense, he had to keep (Huckaby) out of the middle,” Whittemore said.
“We don’t care who gets the shot – just shoot a high-percentage shot. It doesn’t matter, play hard. If you’re open, shoot the ball with confidence. If not, make people guard you, kick it to someone else and you’ll be all right. The second half was huge and we stayed consistent to our game plan and stayed together.”
The score was tied 21-21 at halftime.
The Wolverines outscored the Mustangs 20-10 in the third quarter to take control. Lamar Norman, a freshman guard, banked in a mid-air follow from 10 feet as the quarter ended to give Godwin Heights its first double-digit lead. It was Norman’s lone basket of the night.
“The problem was we gave up 40 points in the second half,” Christian coach Jared Redell said. “At halftime of a tied game, if we give up 40 points in the second half, we’re not going to win too many of those games.”
Senior forward Kual Nhial scored 22 points for the Mustangs.
Redell lamented that Christian missed a chance to effectively clinch the conference title.
“(Godwin Heights) have been at the top of the OK Silver for I don’t even know how many of the last several years,” he said. “We’ve only been there for three years. Our goal is to be right there with them, and I think we’re there, but we missed an opportunity tonight to win the league outright by ourselves.
“We’re going to have to scratch and claw to keep up with them and win out to get a share of the league championship.”
Andrew Holesinger, a senior guard, scored 12 points for the Mustangs, junior guard Tyler Baker had nine and senior guard Josh Combs had seven.