The North School 71-69 The Norwood School

The North School Lions produced some late game heroics to defeat The Norwood School 71-69, in a pulsating ABL Southern Conference encounter.

Lions’ electrifying duo, Conal Parnell and Harvey Kemp-Green, scored all 16 of the home team’s first quarter points with a combination of outside shooting and explosive drives to the rim. However, Norwood’s Shane Mitchell poured in three 3-point baskets to give his team a 20-16 advantage.

The Lions raised their defensive intensity in the second quarter to hold Norwood to 12 points and mercurial Point Guard Roshan Thakali kept the offence flowing with expert control. Rising star Diogo Araujo-Simoes provided a big lift off of the bench and his two-made 3’s gave the Lions a slender 35-32 advantage going into halftime.

An 8-0 run fuelled by Tyreece Blake at the start the third quarter saw Norwood regain the lead (40-35), though the Lions hit back through their outstanding sophomore, Luis Beaumont, whose back-to-back baskets put his team ahead once again at 46-42. As the game swung back and forth, it was the visitors who ended the quarter with another impressive 8-0 run to take a 52-49 lead into the last quarter.

The fourth quarter saw Norwood take their largest lead of the game at 60-53 but the Lions would look to familiar faces to issue their response. Thakali continued to orchestrate the game with masterful poise, while Parnell and Kemp-Green continued their offensive dominance. With the scores tied at 69-69 and just 13 seconds to go, the Lions defence forced a critical turnover that gave them possession of the ball. Thakali drove from the left wing to collapse the Norwood defence and he found Beaumont for the game-winning shot as the Lions prevailed in a thrilling 71-69 victory.

Thakali put up outstanding numbers across the board for the Lions with eight points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and two steals, while Captain Kemp-Green led all scorers with 24 points. Parnell was a force to be reckoned with once again for the Lions with an impressive 22 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.

The Norwood School were paced by big double-doubles from Mitchell (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Blake (16 points, 10 rebounds), while team Captain Orlu was dominant inside with 15 points and nine boards.

Thakali said: “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Norwood play with high intensity and they gave us a tough game at their home court. We were prepared and confident for the challenge and through Coach’s leadership and our ‘free’ basketball we managed to earn the outcome we wanted.”

Head Coach, Andrew Sunderland commented: “We weren’t at our best but we found a way to win which I think is an attribute of a great team. Credit to Norwood – Coach Semedo had them playing at an incredible intensity and they made it difficult for us to get into an offensive rhythm. I thought Roshan was the glue for us today, his ability to affect the game in multiple ways whilst making everyone around him better makes him one of the best pure point guard prospects in the country.”

Next up for the Lions is a trip to Hampshire to take on Barton Peveril College on Wednesday 15 January, while The Norwood School will return home to take on Sir Robert Woodard Academy.