Still room to grow for improving Huntington North boys basketball team

New Haven's Davion Harris tries to score over Huntington North's Hank Pulver, left, during their game Friday at Huntington University. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of
New Haven's Brecar Clark, drives against the defense of Huntington North's Zach Daugherty on Friday at Huntington University. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of
Huntington North's Hank Pulver scores inside during the Vikings' overtime win over New Haven on Friday at Huntington University. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of
New Haven's James Gardner, right, drives baseline Friday against Huntington North at Huntington University. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of

HUNTINGTON – Craig Teagle wants even more quality play from his Huntington North High School boys basketball team. Chances are he’ll get it.

In three seasons, Teagle has turned the Vikings into one of the most difficult teams to play in the Fort Wayne area. Tenacious on defense, unselfish on offense, they’re savvy, they’re tough, they don’t back down and they don’t quit.

New Haven found that out Friday night, when Huntington North came from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime and beat the Bulldogs 63-55 in the third-place game of the Columbia City/Huntington North Tournament at Huntington University.

Undefeated Class 4A No. 2 Hamilton Southeastern won the tournament, beating Lake Central 58-44 after squeaking by Huntington North 45-44 in the semifinal earlier Friday.

“I’d like to be 12-0, but we’re sitting OK,” Teagle said after Huntington North improved to 10-2 with the win over New Haven. “Leo beat us at their place and that hurts, it’s a loss in conference, but they’re a good basketball team. The Hamilton Southeastern game, I’d have liked to win it, but we did compete. We let ourselves know we could compete with anybody on a given night.”

Huntington North led Hamilton Southeastern by six points with 1:34 left, but couldn’t quite hold on for the upset.

That loss lingered a bit Friday night, as the Vikings trailed New Haven most of the game, trailing by 12 points late in the third quarter.

“I didn’t feel like we started playing our type of basketball until the fourth quarter,” Teagle said. “We scored at the end of the third to make it a 10-point game. From that point on, we played our basketball. When we play our basketball, we’re pretty good.”

In the fourth quarter and overtime, Huntington North outscored New Haven 29-11. Daugherty scored eight of his game-high 20 points in overtime. Senior Mitch Geller scored 15 points with 10 rebounds.

But the one thing Huntington North has proved this season is that it’s not a team built around a single go-to player.

The basket that sent the game to overtime featured five passes and all five Huntington North players touched the ball, with forward Sawyer Stoltz hitting forward Hank Pulver for a layup. Pulver scored 13 points.

“This is definitely one of the most unselfish teams this year, and we’re really excited for it,” Daugherty said.

Geller, one of two seniors on the team (Joe Stoffel is the other), said he feel the best could be yet to come.

“This is one of the best teams we’ve had in a long time,” Geller said. “But we can continue to get better. There’s no telling how good this team can be.”

New Haven coach Bruce Stephens, meanwhile, was frustrated with his team’s inability to finish off the game after controlling it for most of the night.

The Bulldogs (5-4), who lost to Lake Central 63-55 in the other semifinal game earlier Friday, hit 7 of 13 three pointers in the first half, but cooled off in the second half and overtime, hitting 4-of-14 from long range.

Poor decisions on the type of shots to take also hurt New Haven. Brecar Clark led New Haven with 15 points and Zach Latham and Donovynn Lewis scored 11 apiece.

“I feel like we gave one away,” Stephen said. “It’s not effort. Our kids compete and play hard, but we have to get a little bit smarter.”

Huntington North’s basketball acumen continues to improve, which should only make it more dangerous as the season progresses.

“I think we can get a lot better,” Teagle said, “but this was a good win for us.”