So too, did the top scorer in the SBC Lake Division.
The Norwalk boys basketball team won its eighth straight game on Tuesday, limiting host Columbian to just 12 points in the first half of a 52-39 victory in Tiffin.
With the win, the Truckers improved to 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the Lake.
The victory sets up a battle of first-place teams when Norwalk entertains Clyde (8-4, 5-1) on Friday.
In Tuesday’s win, Brandon Haraway was again superb. He finished with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 at the free-throw line. He added seven rebounds, six steals and five assists.
Despite the impressive performance, longtime Norwalk coach Steve Gray was a tad disappointed with the defense in the second half. The Truckers are allowing 48.5 points per game, and 46 points per game in Lake Division games — both the best marks in the league.
“At times tonight we were really good defensively, and for whatever reason sort of lost a bit of our concentration,” Gray said. “There was just too much game slippage in the second half. I thought in the first half, we just moved our feet and communicated well.
“But what hurt us in the second half was (Tyron) Smith hits two threes and two free throws for them,” he added. “We just struggled with him and our rotations were a tad slow in second half.”
Norwalk scored the first nine points of the game, and the Tornadoes (1-10, 0-6) never drew any closer than four points over the final 26-plus minutes.
Kyler Lacy, Haraway and Garrett Obringer opened with three straight baskets, then a fourth different player, Ryan Sowders, connected on a triple for the early lead.
Leading 12-5 after one quarter, the Truckers then put the game out of reach over the second eight minutes.
Columbian opened the second with a 3-pointer to cut it to 12-8, but the Truckers proceeded to go on a 17-4 scoring run to take a 29-12 halftime lead.
Haraway took control by scoring nine of the 17 points, while Sowders added another 3-pointer, and the trio of Garrett Chapin, Austin Brown and Ian Minor also scored.
But similar to the defensive intensity in the first half, the Truckers also slipped a bit in the second half that saw them get outscored 27-23.
After just one turnover in the first half, Norwalk committed 12 turnovers over the game’s final 16 minutes.
“They trapped us out of their zone in the second half, and instead of reversing it quicker, we waited for a double team to get there,” Gray said. “And we threw some church passes — just praying they would get there. We also weren’t as aggressive as we could be on the boards.
“But here I am complaining and we won by 13 and were pretty good on defense,” he added. “We had a substantial lead at one time, but a win is a win. It’s not easy to win all the time, especially on a Tuesday night with crummy weather in Tiffin. I just wish we had played closer to our standards.”
In his last five games, Haraway is putting together one of the best stretches ever by a Norwalk player. He is averaging 26.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 4.0 steals on 61 percent shooting from the field and 84 percent from the free-throw line.
“The last five games he’s been on an unbelievable roll,” Gray said of the Ashland University commit. “I’m not sure I ever coached a kid that’s done what he’s done in a five-game stretch … and now we’re going to ask him to be even better on Friday night.”
Also for the Truckers, Sowders and Chapin each scored six points, and Lacy added seven rebounds.
The loser of Friday’s game will be at least temporarily out of the top spot in the league, which also currently includes Sandusky (6-4, 4-1). Norwalk’s last loss was a last-second, 61-60 defeat at Clyde on Dec. 14.
“If the weather cooperates, it will be a packed house on Friday,” Gray said. “As a high school player, if you can’t get excited about that, something is wrong. I think we’re a lot better since the last time we played, and I would be disappointed if we didn’t play well.”
The Fliers shoot a lot of 3-pointers, and connected on 10 in the win over Norwalk in Clyde. The Truckers led 54-44 in the fourth quarter, but the Fliers closed the game on a 17-6 scoring run. It was capped off by Will Gehlhausen’s buzzer-beating three attempt that was a long two as his foot was on the line.
“Their 3-pointer shooting hurt us, and like tonight, we lost a big lead on turnovers,” Gray said. “If we defend, take care of the ball and make good decisions, I like our chances. If we don’t do those things, we will get beat.”
In the junior varsity game, Norwalk also rolled to a 52-30 win. Drew Shope scored 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed four rebounds to pace the Truckers.
Jad Oglesby had eight points on 4-of- shooting and added four rebounds and three steals. Also for the JV Truckers (7-5), Kyler Kromer had eight points and three rebounds, and Daniel Traczek added five points and six rebounds.
NORWALK (10-2, 5-1)
Brandon Haraway 9-7—26; Garrett Chapin 3-0—6; Ryan Sowders 2-2—6; Austin Brown 1-1—4; Kyler Lacy 1-1—3; Will Gehlhausen 1-0—3; Ian Minor 1-0—2; Garrett Obringer 1-0—2. TOTALS 19-9—52.
COLUMBIAN (1-10, 0-6)
Davaunte Brockington 2-0—4; LJ Reaves 5-0—13; Bryce Burns 4-0—8; Tyron Smith 5-2—14. TOTALS 16-2—39.
Norwalk 12 17 11 12 — 52
Columbian 5 7 14 13 — 39
3-point FGs: (N) Sowders 2, Haraway, Brown, Gehlhausen; (TC) Reaves 3, Smith 2
JV: Norwalk, 52-30