Brody Hibbert and Adam Nicol propelled the Northland Prep Academy boys basketball team past St. Johns, 57-53, Tuesday, giving the Spartans their first win of the season.
After dropping their first two games to Coconino and Tuba City, the Spartans led from start to finish on Tuesday night at home, although it was close throughout.
Although NPA never lost the lead, there was a definite change of momentum that shifted in the Spartans’ favor during the second quarter when Nicol blocked a shot attempt by the Redskins’ Corbin Wall.
“I just went up and jumped, I didn’t actually think I was going to make it,” said Nicol, who ended his night with six rejections to go with 13 points and as many rebounds.
The Spartans’ fans responded enthusiastically, and the crowd energy seemed to continue to push the team to make bigger plays throughout the game.
Still, the Spartans couldn’t manage to pull away from the Redskins.
“Our team plays every point out and we never quit,” said Redskins head coach Keith Drain, whose team is still seeking its first win. “Every time we would fall behind, we kept coming back and coming back.”
St. Johns found itself in foul trouble all night, allowing NPA to get into the bonus toward the end of the first and second halves. The Redskins were whistled for 18 fouls in the game, eight in the first half and 10 in the second half, and the Spartans finished 12 of 24 from the charity stripe.
“We just need to clean up our act a little bit and make cleaner plays overall,” Drain said.
Cameron Larson and Brody Hibbert also led the way on defense, with the former tallying five steals and the latter getting four.
Larson led the Spartans with 15 points, well under his scoring average of 21 points per game through the first two contests, but he shined in the leadership role, especially down the stretch when the Redskins managed to pull within two possessions.
Hibbert added 14 points and seven assists for the Spartans, who beat the Redskins 71-58 around midway through last season.
NPA (2-1) hosts Holbrook Indian School at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to play its third of four consecutive home games.
ESTRELLA FOOTHILLS 65, FLAGSTAFF 30
Dropping their first game of the year Tuesday night, the Flagstaff Eagles (1-1) fell to the Estrella Foothills Wolves (1-0) in Goodyear.
Outscored 20-7 in the opening quarter, the second didn't get much better as the Eagles entered halftime trailing 40-18. Ramsey Penza led Flagstaff with 12 points, with Troy Yazzie adding 10 and K.P. Kortsen finishing with seven to make up nearly all of the team's production.
A member of the 4A Conference, Estrella Foothills is Flagstaff's only non-region opponent in regular-season play until Dec. 16. The Eagles will travel to Mohave to face the Thunderbirds on Friday at 7 p.m.
PAGE 47, COCONINO 30
Opening their season against a perennial 3A Conference title threat, the 4A Coconino Panthers (0-1) fell to the Page Sand Devils (1-1) on the road Tuesday night.
After beating Page a year ago, Coconino fell in its first game without all-state guard JJ Nakai. The Panthers will remain on the road at Peoria on Thursday before returning home on Monday against Metro Tech.
ST. JOHNS 56, NORTHLAND PREP 6
Falling in their second game of the year, the Northland Prep Spartans (0-2) lost to fellow 2A Conference member St. Johns Tuesday night.
Northland Prep continues its home stretch Thursday against Holbrook Indian School at 7 p.m.
TEMPE 8, COCONINO 0
Traveling to the Valley for their season opener, the Coconino Panthers (0-1) fell at the Tempe Buffaloes (1-0) Tuesday night.
An 8-3-1 team a year ago, Tempe reached the 4A playoffs and beat Coconino 2-0 along the way.
The Panthers will look to bounce back on their rival's home field Thursday, as the Flagstaff Eagles open their regular season against Coconino.