Northampton finds offensive balance in win over West Springfield

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  • Jacob Cancel, right, shoots against Ryan Russell, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Justyn Rankins, top, of Northampton, passes to Gavin Bullock while defended by Joe Kosior, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Brittain, right, of Northampton, moves the ball ahead of a pair of West Springfield defenders, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Max Lockett, top, of Northampton, shoots against Mekhi Smith, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Treyvon James-Salus, center, of Northampton, draws a foul as he shoots between West Springfield defenders Joe Kosior, left, and Ryan Russell, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Seth Finnessey, top, of Northampton, grabs a rebound against West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gavin Bullock, left, of Northampton, passes away from Jayden Holder, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Connor Tobin, left, of Northampton, tries to block a pass by Ryan Russell, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jacob Cancel, center, of Northampton, draws a foul while passing between West Springfield defenders Ryan Russell, left, and Nick Toma, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Connor Tobin, right, of Northampton, and Joe Kosior, of West Springfield, eye a loose ball, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Justyn Rankins, right, of Northampton, moves the ball against Ryan Russell, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Max Lockett, top, of Northampton, draws a foul while shooting against West Springfield defenders Ryan Russell, from left, Mekhi Smith and Max Amsden, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Justyn Rankins, center, of Northampton, shoots against Nick Toma, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jacob Cancel, center, of Northampton, passes against West Springfield defenders Jayden Holder, left, and Hasanat Ashraf, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Max Lockett, top, of Northampton, shoots against West Springfield defenders Mekhi Smith, left, and Michael Russel, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jacob Cancel, top, of Northampton, shoots against Hasanat Ashraf, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Justyn Rankins, left, of Northampton, moves the ball against Jayden Holder, of West Springfield, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at Northampton High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/14/2020 10:56:22 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton boys basketball team has been searching for balance this season.

Through the team’s first six games, the Blue Devils have struggled to strike a balance between interior and perimeter scoring.

On Tuesday night against West Springfield, Northampton showcased what can happen when the team finds that balance.

The Blue Devils defeated the Terriers, 69-51, at Northampton High School. Connor Tobin scored a team-high 13 points for Northampton (2-6, 1-1 Valley). Treyvon James-Salus and Seth Finnessey each chipped in 10 points for the Blue Devils.

“I thought today we made shots we’ve been missing,” Northampton coach Rey Harp said. “We were making shots early and got a little bit of distance in the first half. It wasn’t one guy. We had contributions from a bunch of different guys. ... That’s what we look like when we’re playing our best.”

Northampton set the tone in the first few minutes of the game. West Springfield used a full-court press to try and force turnovers, but quick passing from the Blue Devils and shots along the perimeter pushed the Blue Devils ahead.

Tobin made a 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 30 seconds to go in the opening frame to put the Blue Devils ahead, 12-3.

Tobin helped keep Northampton ahead with two 3-pointers in the second quarter, but fouls and turnovers from the Blue Devils helped bring West Springfield back into the game.

The Terriers scored nine of their 18 second-quarter points at the free-throw line and went into halftime trailing, 36-31.

“We’re aggressive. We have a team of kids that are aggressive and hungry and sometimes that leads to a bit of sloppiness,” Harp said. “As an inexperienced team you have to learn how to do that and make it work better.”

West Springfield (2-5, 1-1 Valley) turned up its defensive pressure in the third quarter, especially in the paint, but left shooters open along the outside. James-Salus made two 3-pointers in the third quarter to help extend Northampton’s lead.

“The past couple of games we have had trouble with just trying to force it,” Tobin said. “We brought intensity from our last few losses. We kept that and used that energy and brought it tonight.”

A floater in the paint from Justyn Rankins with less than a minute to go in the third quarter put the Blue Devils ahead, 57-41.

Jacob Cancel scored six points in the final frame to help seal the win for Northampton and snap a three-game losing streak.

“If our inside game can set up our outside game and our outside game can set up our inside game, I think we are pretty good,” Harp said. “Today was maybe the best we have done all of year when it come to being balanced.”

The Blue Devils have battled with inexperience and a tough schedule to start the regular season, but as the season has progressed the group has seen collective progress and feels like it is starting to get on the same page.

“I think we are a special group,” Tobin said. “If we get our chemistry down we have a chance to win a lot of games toward the end of the regular season and get into the playoffs. I have a lot of faith in this group.”


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