"There was a bit more pressure, there were a lot of nerves going on before the game," Northridge coach C.K. Hansen said.
The gym welcomed one of the bigger crowds all year as fans from both sides filed in. Northridge went with a smaller lineup with Sean Accord playing the shooting guard. Clearfield came with their towers of athleticism in the form of Mitch Scholer, Trevor Scott, and Cameron Evans.
The contest pitted three of the top six scorers in 5-A with Northridge's Jordan (No. 1), Bentley (No. 6), and Clear-field's Scholer (No. 5).
"I hope people will quit looking at us as a one-man team, this is a total team effort," Hansen said.
But tonight, defense was the main attraction as both teams scrambled up and down the court.The Knights had an amazing 17 steals in the game. Northridge struggled to find the bottom of the net early and the Falcons took advantage and raced to a seven-point lead with all five starters scoring in the first quarter.
Northridge had developed a pattern this year of sluggish starts but this game was different with their defense still holding the score in check. The Knights looked to Bentley and Schang to help get their offense going.
Bentley, who missed two of the last three games with a leg injury, posted one of his finest games this year. He scored the first nine points of the second quarter for the Knights.
Northridge got their first lead of the game after a Sean Accord steal which led to Schang streaking to the basket for the layup.
Scott halted the skid for Clearfield with a jumper and Scholer dropped in a three- pointer right before halftime to bring the game to within one point.
Once again for Northridge, Bentley came out strong once again to start the second half. In the first minute of the half, he made two shots, one free throw and had a steal.
"I felt good," Bentley said. "I am about 90 percent right now. The hoop was just huge tonight."
Scott answered back for Clearfield as he scored 10 points in the third and did get the lead back for a short time. Schang and Bentley scored all but one point for Northridge to keep a slim two-point lead.
Once Northridge got the lead back they did not give it up again as they were able to increase their lead to nine points remaining. But Clear-field tried to vault themselves back in the game with an Adam Anderson three-pointer with 90 seconds remaining.
The comeback was halted when Schang was able to tip the ball off a wild rebound and finally shut the door on Clearfield. The Knights won 53-47.
The road does not get any easier as both teammates share the same next opponent. Davis will play at Northridge on Friday and then play on Clearfield next Tuesday.Clear-field has a bye this week.
Supremacy in Region 1 could depend on who wins out of those next two games against Davis.
Both coaches are well aware of the toughness in the schedule but both say this start will tell what their teams are made of.