Northern turns tables on Northwestern Twice beaten by Wildcats, Vikings top No. 16 team in 4A North, 68-60

March 04, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It didn't matter to Northern's Donte Pennix that his team had already lost to No. 16 Northwestern twice during the regular season. To Pennix and the Vikings, last night's Class 4A North regional quarterfinal was like a new beginning.

"This time, we felt as though we had to beat them when it counted," said Pennix.

The 6-foot-2 senior scored a game-high 23 points as Northern built a 12-point second-half lead and never looked back in a 68-60 win over the host Wildcats.

The second-seeded Vikings (14-9) advance to tomorrow's region semifinals at Poly, where they will play Patterson, a 75-55 winner over Southwestern last night. Northern, which lost to Southern in the region semifinals a year ago, defeated both teams this season.

To get there, the Vikings needed better rebounding than in the previous two matchups with Northwestern, plus a little help from the Wildcats (14-9).

Despite shooting 32 percent from the field, Northern out-rebounded Northwestern, 48-39, getting off 12 more shots while building the lead during the first three quarters.

"We did a better job on the boards and our defense was solid," said Northern coach Paul Holmes.

The help came in the form of 10-for-22 foul shooting by the Wildcats, who missed countless opportunities to draw closer.

"We gave them too many second shots and we shot very poor from the foul line," said Northwestern coach Doug Robertson. "Paul had his team well prepared. We beat them twice, and it's tough to beat somebody three times."

After trailing early, Northern used a 9-2 run midway through the first quarter to open a four-point lead.

The Vikings never trailed again.

Paced by the slashing Pennix, as well as guards Robert Montgomery (13 points) and Mike Scott (nine), Northern extended its lead to 12 in the third quarter before the Wildcats, led by Derek Pack (15), scored the final eight points of the quarter to cut the deficit to 50-46.

Still leading by four late in the game, however, the Vikings slowed the ball to a crawl, waited to be fouled, then hit six of their final eight shots from the line over the final 45 seconds to seal the win.

"Our coach was telling us about playing mentally tough, and in the second half that's what we did," said Pennix. "We came out, executed our plays and did what we had to do to win."

Holmes had high praise for his shooting guard, who spent the game creating scoring chances and buckling down on defense.

"Donte Pennix has done a yeoman's job for us," said Holmes. "I really believe he's one of the better players in this town."

Pennix, who averages nearly 20 points a game, said one of his dreams is to make it to College Park's Cole Field House for the state's final four. It's a dream that could be fulfilled if the Vikings win twice more.

Said Pennix: "We've just got to keep practicing hard and then come out and do the same thing we did today."

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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