By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
SCRANTON – Walker Yaple scored a game-high 18 points, half of it in the first 10:13 Saturday afternoon, sending Northwest on its way to a 42-26 victory over Susquehanna in the opener of the second annual Conference Challenge at the Lackawanna College Student Union Center.
Yaple opened the game with a drive for a basket just 20 seconds in. He broke the only tie, hitting one of two free throws for a 3-2 lead, then added the last basket for the first quarter for a 10-4 lead.
“We’re really young and just wanted to pick up a win,” said Yaple, the only returning starter on either team.
Yaple made sure the Rangers did that comfortably. He added the first four points of the second quarter on a 3-pointer and free throw, making it 14-4.
The Rangers did not let the Sabers closer than eight the rest of the way in a rematch of last season’s District 2 Class 2A semifinal that Northwest also won.
Gavin Baker led Susquehanna with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.
Baker’s shot from the left elbow with 1:30 left in the half was the last basket by the Sabers until Garrett Decker hit an 8-footer from the right side with 6:25 remaining.
Charlie Towner followed Baker’s basket by hitting one of two free throws to cut Northwest’s lead to 18-9 going into the final minute of the half.
From there, the Rangers went on a 17-4 run to a 35-13 lead before Decker’s basket.
Northwest limited Susquehanna to 22.7 percent (10-for-44) from the floor. The Sabers hit just 1 of their 15 tries from 3-point range with that coming in the last two minutes.
“We knew coming in that they were going to run some stuff and be very patient,” Northwest coach Sean Miller said. “We wanted to speed them up and make them play a little faster than what they might be used to.”
Northwest, ranked sixth among Small Schools in NEPABasketball.com’s Super Six, used the win to improve to 2-1.
Yaple had eight points and Chase Biller the other five when Northwest outscored Susquehanna, 13-3, in the third quarter.
Biller went 3-for-3 from the floor and made his only foul shot while finishing with seven points and five rebounds. Matt Saxe added six points and seven rebounds.
Yaple was 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
Decker had seven points and five rebounds and was the only Susquehanna player with two assists. Spencer Beamer came off the bench to add six points and seven rebounds.
The defending Lackawanna League Division 4 champion Sabers, who graduated their entire starting lineup, are 0-4.
MORE SATURDAY ACTION:
Holy Cross-Nanticoke Game: http://www.nepabasketball.com/2019-20/Articles/BGameNanticokeHC.
Valley View-Holy Redeemer Game: http://www.nepabasketball.com/2019-20/Articles/BGameVVHR.