THOMASTON >> The Northwestern Highlanders used a 19-0 run to help separate them from the Litchfield Cowboys en route to advancing to the Berkshire League Tournament semifinals, 50-36.
Tied at 15-15 in the middle of the second quarter the Highlanders got started.
“Maybe we started with a little case of nerves,” said Northwestern head coach Doug Sebach. “After that we just started playing basketball and that took over, the shots were going down.”
The Highlanders would end the half on an 8-0 run, 23-15 into the locker room and then they opened up the second half with an 11-0 run.
“We didn’t know,” said Northwestern’s Zach Tuxbury of the 19-0 run. “We switched up our defense and it translated into points.”
After a slow start to the game with the Highlanders leading 5-2 six minutes in and then 9-6 after the first the Highlanders shooters took over in the second.
Tuxbury scored five points, John Lippincott added three and Ricky Persechino had two in the quarter.
“It was hard getting the ball down low in the first half,” said Tuxbury. “They were playing solid defense.”
“They were guarding tight so we were running off of picks,” said Persechino, who led all scorers with 15 points.
In the second half the Highlanders were able to get the ball down low to their big man Stephen McGrath who helped extend the Highlanders run, giving them a 34-15 lead.
The Cowboys finally ended the Highlanders run, when Darrin Newbury scored on a layup with 2:42 left in the third quarter, but the damage was done already.
“Once we were down by that margin, we couldn’t get it back to a manageable mark,” said Litchfield head coach Dan Goscinski.
The Highlanders defense was able to contain the Cowboys’ Newbury, their leading scorer, and three-point specialist Steven Ringquist.
“Our big guys did a good job down low to take of him (Newbury),” said Sebach. “We made sure we guarded Ringquist.”
Litchfield now prepares for the Class S State Tournament.
“We have to forget about this, we have to get better, we have a lot to work on,” said Goscinski. “We need to play with passion and emotion that Litchfield teams play with; I don’t think we played with that tonight.”
The Northwestern Highlanders move on and will play the No. 2 seed Lewis Mills Spartans, who they have lost to twice this season on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
“We have to put the ball in the hoop, they’re a solid team and a good matchup,” said Sebach. “We got to find a way to eliminate their strengths.”