The Nokomis boys basketball team could have been significantly frustrated after a 4-5 start to its season — four of those setbacks came by a combined 13 points.
But all it took was some words of wisdom from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to help turn things around in the Warriors’ camp.
“I came across a saying by coach Popovich — ‘The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way’ — and shared it with the guys,” said Nokomis coach Ryan Martin.
“Our guys always reacted the right way after those losses, they’ve learned from them and worked hard in practice and I think they’re really seeing it pay off now.”
A notable 68-65 win at Class AA Bangor on Monday night is perhaps the best evidence of a turnaround that has the Warriors riding a four-game winning streak and moving up to third place in the Class A North Heal Point ratings heading into a clash with No. 4 Gardiner in Newport on Thursday.
The win over Bangor, second in Class AA North with a 6-5 record, featured a 37-point scoring performance by 6-foot senior guard Zach Hartsgrove.
“He had a great night, just one of those nights when he was very active,” said Martin. “Zach did a phenomenal job of running through some screens and his teammates did a great job of setting quality screens and finding him. Everybody helped out in that.”
Nokomis needed a big night from Hartsgrove, who now is averaging 21 points per game this winter, to offset a 32-point performance by Bangor standout Matt Fleming.
“Zach did a little bit of everything,” said Martin. “He put it on the floor and scored at the rim, he scored in the midrange and he had two 3’s last night, just a great offensive performance.”
The game was close throughout, with Bangor leading 38-36 at intermission and 54-53 through three quarters before Nokomis inched into the lead midway through the final period.
“In the first half it really was kind of a shootout,” said Martin. “Zach and Matt kind of went back and forth, it was really fun to watch.
“In the second half we tightened up a little more defensively. Playing against a kid like Fleming, you’ve just got to make sure he earns everything and I thought that even though he scored 32 points I felt like for the most part he had to work for those 32 so you’ve got to be happy with the effort we gave there.”