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Boys basketball: Whitear boosts Northridge to 66-48 win over Ben Lomond

By Bob Judson - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 22, 2022

LAYTON — Early-season high school basketball games are all about gaining experience for new players, getting them ready for region action down the road.

One game into the 2022-23 season, Northridge junior guard Bentley Whitear is playing like a seasoned veteran.

Whitear rode the bench much of last year for the Knights but had a breakout performance Tuesday night, scoring 19 points in his first start.

Northridge High boys basketball rolled to a big halftime lead and held off a spirited Ben Lomond comeback after the break, taking a 66-48 non-region victory in the season-opener for both schools.

“I came into it hard. I was amped up at the start,” Whitear said. “Coaches told me to calm down, I did and then played; just do what I do. We got the ‘W.'”

Ben Lomond kept it close early, behind six points by Jake East, and the Scots trailed 11-9 late in the first quarter.

But Northridge nudged a 15-10 lead after one period to 23-16 with 3:22 left in the second, then closed the half on a 15-4 run.

Whitear had 14 points in the first half, including two steals and several driving layups, plus stepped out beyond the arc for a 3-pointer.

“I made the buckets I needed to make and we played hard on defense, and forced turnovers that led to easy baskets,” Whitear said. “Always play defense; I’m going to try and get as many steals as I can. It helps us get more possessions.”

Another junior, Logan Birt, checked in with 18 points and burly junior center De’Qoune Kennedy added 14 as the Northridge youngsters shined bright in the limelight.

With a comfortable 38-20 lead at the half, Northridge played a little lackadaisical in the third quarter while the Scots came out of the locker room inspired and won the period 19-16.

The Scots got back to 47-35 with an 8-0 run, fueled by East and Taejean Lucas, but Birt worked inside for a basket and one, and Northridge led 54-39 after three.

Northridge took the fourth quarter 12-9, which means a young and inexperienced Ben Lomond squad played the Knights even in the second half, so there is a learning curve in play for both teams.

“I think our guys understood the moment a little bit better in the second half; first half was a little bit shell-shocked,” Ben Lomond coach Tanoka Beard said. “We don’t have a lot of guys that have varsity experience, so that lack is something that we’re going to be working to overcome as quick as we possibly can as the season progresses.

“But we have guys that have a lot of heart, that play with a lot of toughness and tenacity and gave us some good effort … so there’s a lot to build on.”

East led the Scots with 19 points, and Lucas and Mason Williams had eight each.

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