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ENERGY UPTICK: Mustangs turn up heat in 2nd half, rally past Brighton

 ENERGY UPTICK: Mustangs turn up heat in 2nd half, rally past Brighton

Northville junior Bennett Watson take the ball strong to the basket Tuesday night against Brighton.

Tuesday was a Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of night for Northville’s boys basketball team.

Following a sluggish, turnover-prone first half that ended with the Mustangs trailing Brighton, 24-21, Northville was locked in over the final 16 minutes of its 59-45 triumph over the Bulldogs.

The Mustangs improved to 6-4 overall and 2-1 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association’s West Division. Brighton slipped to 3-7 and 0-3, respectively.

Northville nearly had more turnovers than made fields in the first half — a reality Head Coach Todd Sander addressed at halftime.

“We came out lethargic in the first half and we were turning the ball over way too much,” Sander said. “It was obvious Brighton wanted it more than we did. They were killing us on the boards.

Cleaning things up

“We got both things cleaned up in the second half. Brighton is a good team and they’re getting better.”

Northville senior Chad Carney makes Brighton senior Ben Kocab work hard for a basket
Northville senior Chad Carney makes Brighton senior Ben Kocab work hard for a basket

Northville’s second-half catalyst was junior point guard Kaden Kuban, who followed up a 1-point first half with 14 points after intermission.

Despite drawing two first-half offensive fouls, Kuban continued to attack Brighton’s defense and it ultimately paid dividends as he earned 11 free throws (making seven).

Brighton forward Lucas Stamper is defended by Northville sophomore Nate Imbuzeiro
Brighton forward Lucas Stamper is defended by Northville sophomore Nate Imbuzeiro

“Kaden is a really tough cover because he’s so strong and he makes free throws,” Sander said. “In the second half tonight, he took on the challenge and accepted the responsibility of wanting the ball and getting to the rack down the stretch.”

Along with Kuban’s team-high 15 points, sophomore guard Nate Imbuzeiro netted all 12 of his points in the second half, including the Mustangs’ only two three-point makes.

Multiple contributors

Chad Carney added eight points, Nick Helner cashed in six while Sonny Rentz score four points to accompany his team-high seven rebounds.

Rentz is a tenacious rebounder, often registering game-high totals for both teams despite his modest 6-foot height.

“When it comes to rebounding, it just comes down to how much you want it,” said Rentz. “We go up against a lot of big guys in this league — especially the teams from Livingston County — so I make sure to box out and go get the ball.

“I’m not a big scorer, so I like take pride in assisting my teammates in other ways like getting rebounds.”

“Sonny is our Energizer Bunny,” Sander said. “He really embraces the challenge of wanting to be our leading rebounder every game.

Simon Sondreal is defended by Ty Langdenderfer.
Simon Sondreal is defended by Ty Langdenderfer

“We keep a hustle plus/minus chart he his numbers on that are off the charts.”

Brighton was fueled by senior guard Trevor Viau’s stellar play.

Viau, who swished three of the Bulldogs’ six triples, netted a team-high 15 points — 12 in the first half.

Sixth man Ben Kocab chipped in with eight points while 6-foot-8 junior Vincent Salmon twined seven points and five rebounds.

The Mustangs seized their first second-half lead at the 4:15 mark of the third quarter when Nick Helner finished a slick spinning drive to put his team ahead 32-31.

Brighton’s Ty Landenderfer answered seconds later to help the Bulldogs regain a 33-advantage.

A long two-point jumper by Kuban one minute later gave Northville a lead it would never relinquish.

The Mustangs closed out their 20-point third quarter with a buzzer-beating trey by Imbuzeiro.

Nate Imbuzeiro banks in a layup
Nate Imbuzeiro banks in a layup

The winners closed the game on a 12-4 run, during which Helner drew a victory-sealing charge on Salmon.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

Kaden Kuban knocks down a free throw as the Mustangs student cheering section looks on
Kaden Kuban knocks down a free throw as the Mustangs student cheering section looks on
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Ed Wright

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