By Steve Metsch
Clinging to a one-point lead over Northridge Prep with 4:57 remaining in the game, Nazareth coach Sean Pearson told his players during a timeout that they must take care of the ball.
The Roadrunners listened well.
“We took care of it in the last five minutes,” Pearson said after Nazareth hung on for their first victory of the season, 49-43. “It’s important. We’ve been in a couple games earlier in the season — about the four and a half, the three-minute mark, we seem to get that turnover bug.
“Today, they held on, played strong and limited turnovers the last five minutes.”
Nazareth outscored the Knights 14-9 after his reminder. They improved to 1-4. Northridge, of Niles, fell to 1-1.
Better ball control and the play of junior Dom Trelenberg, who scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, paved the way.
“We started playing as a team, finally, and we clicked,” Trelenberg said.
Leading 39-38, Nazareth stole the ball with just under three minutes left. The 6-foot-5 Trelenberg then raced in from half-court and scored on a layup for a 41-38 lead.
Roadrunners sophomore guard Andrew Cullotta, who scored 11 points, stole the ball on Northridge’s ensuing possession and passed to Trelenberg for another layup, giving the hosts a five-point advantage.
After a Northridge free throw and a third steal, this time by senior guard Noah Soenen, Trelenberg scored again and was fouled on the play. He sank the freebie for a 46-39 lead with 1:29 to play.
The Roadrunners’ effort impressed Soenen.
“We came out in the second half a little flat, but in the fourth quarter we kind of turned it on and sealed the deal,” Soenen said. “It just feels good to get that first win.”
Led by sharpshooter Andrew Brockmeier, who scored 10 of his team-high 17 in the third quarter, Northridge led 32-29 heading into the fourth. Nazareth had led 26-17 at the half.
Soenen, who defended Brockmeier, held him to two points in the final quarter.
“We just focused on staying on him, not letting him get the open shots,” he said.
Northridge is disciplined, Pearson said.
“They stick with their game plan, and they don’t break from that regardless of what’s going on in the game,” he added. “That’s a great trait to have.”
Knights coach Will Rey, who has a 243-128 record at Northridge, said his team allowed too many easy baskets early.
“We tried to correct some of those things at halftime, but we still have to do a better job,” Rey said. “It’s an attention to detail issue right now.”
Trelenberg caught Rey’s attention.
“Very good player,” Rey said. “Excellent. Outstanding. He can score. He can rebound. He defends. He’s a very talented guy. He plays a lot bigger.”
Northrige played admirably in difficult conditions. On Feb. 13, assistant varsity coach Scott Bogumil, 52, died of a heart attack. The team attended Brogumil’s wake at an Elmhurst funeral home before the game.
The Knights have dedicated this season to Bogumil and to his late wife, Diane, who died in August after a six-year fight against cancer.
“He was a great man, one of the most genuine and decent human beings I’ve ever met and had the honor to work alongside,” Rey said.
Borgumil formerly was the boys basketball coach for 11 seasons at Libertyville, where he still worked as a counselor.
“He was a passionate and caring educator who saw the rightful place and purpose of sports in the lives of young people,” Rey said. “Terrific coach, too. He was a huge asset to our program. We will miss him dearly.”