The Saginaw Nouvel (5-5) boys basketball team put together one of its most complete games this year with a suffocating team defense and a balanced scoring attack, led by junior point guard Michael Ehlman, who led all scorers, pushing the Panthers to a 53-46 victory over Essexville Garber H.S. (6-4) at Nouvel Catholic Central high school in Saginaw, MI last night.
Essexville junior's Jacob Denham and Manny Joppich, along with senior Ryan Waterman each hit a three-pointer to help Garber jump out to a 13-11 first quarter lead, while NCC senior Peter Snyder scored four first quarter points, along with a three-pointer from Ehlman for the Panthers.
Snyder added another 4-points in the second quarter and Ehlman completed an and-1, while Nouvel junior Chris Lemanek came off the bench to add 6 first half points to help NCC to a 24-22 lead at halftime.
The third quarter (which has been a problem for NCC all year) saw Nouvel crank up the team defense as Ehlman continued to penetrate, pushing the pace with 7 third quarter points, while Lemanek added another 4 to give the Panthers a 35-33 lead through three quarters of play.
Nouvel hit 8 of its 13 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter and Ehlman added another 7 fourth quarter points (including 3 for 5 from the free throw line in the final quarter) to seal the victory over the Dukes with an 18-16 NCC fourth quarter advantage.
Ehlman (who has been battling a nagging ankle injury all year) was the X-factor for the Panthers tonight, leading all scorers with a game high 18-points, 6-rebounds, 5-assists, and 1-steal, making a difference down the stretch with some dribble-drives, drawing fouls, where he eventually finished 5 for 8 from the free throw line for the game.
While Ehlman was pushing the pace from the PG position, it was Snyder (12-points, 8-rebounds, and 3-blocks) and Lemanek (13-points and 7-rebounds) who were key down low for the Panthers, along with NCC senior PF Tate Hausbeck, who followed with 6-points, while junior's Josh Kuligowski and T.J. Raedy each added 2-points apiece respectively for NCC.
Essexville will prepare for a home game against Millington at 7 pm on Friday at the Garber high school gym, while Nouvel welcome's Burton Atherton H.S. in one week for a 7 pm tip off next Tuesday at the Nouvel CC gym.