Northport off to fast start

Schedule gets more rigorousafter the holiday breakNorthport High is off to a fast start this 2011-2012 boy’s basketball season. The Mustangs, 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Panorama 1B League, haven’t really gotten into the meat of their schedule yet, according to coach, Erik Stark.“Our record looks good, but we have played a lot of young and inexperienced teams,” Stark said. “The really good team we played (Valley Christian), beat us by 40.”Stark says the Mustangs’ defense is ahead of the offense at this early juncture.“In our last three games, we have given up 26, 24 and 21 points (Inchelium, Selkirk and Republic). We are starting to execute our offense more consistently and we shot 50 percent in two of our four games last week.”Last Friday night in Ione, Northport forced 37 Selkirk turnovers en route to a 37-24 win. Jeremiah Johnson and Josh Konkler scored 10 points apiece to lead NHS. Frederick Verhaeghe added seven points for the Mustangs. On Saturday, Northport blasted Republic 46-21 behind Johnson’s 18 points and eight rebounds. The junior also dished out four assists and had four steals.Dutch Burke added eight points for NHS.Republic fell to 0-5, 0-2.Northport outscored Republic 17-3 in the fourth quarter.“The Selkirk game was very physical,” Stark said of the battle in Ione. “Both teams played tough defense.”Stark said that baskets in the paint were at a premium and when Northport wasn’t hitting from outside (1-9) “that made it really tough going.”Konkler dumped in eight points late in the third quarter that gave NHS some separation. The Mustangs were able to cruise comfortably from that point.Stark said that Dylan Masters played very solidly all week and averaged seven points a game, six rebounds and three steals. Northport faces Inchelium, Columbia and Curlew before the Christmas holiday. An 8-1 start by Christmas is a strong possibility. After the holiday, the schedule gets a little more rigorous, with Panorama powers Cusick and Wellpinit and then vastly improved Selkirk again.