BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – For two seasons, all eyes have been on the Northwestern girls basketball program – and rightfully so after a state title and current No. 1 ranking. But ever-so quietly, boys head coach Jim Gish has his squad making noise once again with seven consecutive wins to start the season.
Last weekend, the Purple Tigers earned two victories, a 61-45 win at Maconaquah and an 84-30 victory at home against Elwood.
The Tigers have used a balanced one-two punch from junior Tayson Parker and senior Ben Harris during the streak. Against Maconaquah, Parker scored 23 points while Harris dropped in 18.
The following night against Elwood, it was Harris who led the way with 21 points while Parker dropped in 17. Harris had a strong first half against the Panthers, dropping in 16 points, including three 3-pointers in the second quarter. Against Maconaquah, he scored 14 points in the second quarter.
Northwestern also uses a strong, quick defense. The Braves turned the ball over 18 times while Elwood committed 25 turnovers. The defense is ranked 41st in the state with a 44.71 defensive average. The 17.43 points per game average margin of victory is 31st best in the state.
Hot starts to the season have become the normal for Northwestern; last year they were 5-0 before finishing as sectional runners-up (15-8) and the year before they were 4-0 to start a 13-8 campaign. The 7-0 start is the best for the Tigers since its regional runners-up season in 2007-2008 when the squad won its first 11 games and finished 22-3. During its 2007 state championship season, Northwestern won its first eight contests before setting a school record with 25 victories. The 7-0 record is tied for second best in the state to Delta’s 8-0 start. Northwestern is also one of 24 remaining undefeated teams in Indiana, joining fellow Howard County squad Eastern (5-0).
Now in his 15th season at Northwestern, Gish has a record of 212-109, and will look to add to the great start on the road at Frankfort (1-7) on Dec. 19 before taking the rest of the calendar year off. They will return to action in Hoosier Conference play on Jan. 4 when Hamilton Heights (5-3) visits.