When five-time defending champion Northeastern walked on the court Saturday night to face the Centerville Bulldogs there was a lot on the line.

The Bulldogs beat the Knights in a November overtime thriller to halt a 25-game Knight Tri-Eastern Conference win streak.

Northeastern figured it was payback time. The ‘Dawgs were eager to show that they were the better team in January as well as November.

The two teams were battle tested, both coming off holiday tournament games against good competition.

The large vocal crowd expected to see a hard-fought game and they were not disappointed.

Centerville scored off the opening tip and built their lead through the first quarter, taking a 14-8 advantage into the second quarter. A Dae Lundy basket with four minutes remaining in the first half tied the game at 15-15. Tre Vanlandingham followed with a basket that gave the Knights their first lead of the game. Daniel Williams hit a 3-pointer to restore the lead to Centerville, Micheal Henry answered with a 3-pointer late in the quarter to give the Knights a 20-18 halftime lead.

The Knights’ defense got them back in the game, but Centerville’s halftime changes gave the ‘Dawgs a second-half edge. Northeastern scored on a Vanlandingham rebound basket 22 seconds into the third quarter to push their lead to 4 points. They did not score again for over six minutes. The game was tied at 25-25 and again at 27-27. The Knights retook the lead at 28-27 on a Sam White free throw before the Bulldogs scored the last 5 points of the period to take a 32-28 lead into the fourth quarter.

The game was tied at 36-36 when Wes Hunt hit a 3-pointer for the Knights with five minutes remaining. The Bulldogs scored the next 8 points and were never threatened, again cruising to a 49-42 win.

Shea Hollendonner led the Bulldogs with 15 points and was the only double-figure scorer for either team. Hunt led the Knights with 9 points.

Hollendonner said in postgame remarks that the brotherhood the Bulldog players have built is paying off. “We trust each other, and that trust is getting stronger each day and each game. Northeastern is a good team. This is a big win for us,” he said.

Nate Dickenson, one of only two seniors on the Centerville team, said that the Bulldogs worked hard and persevered for this season’s success. “Two years ago, when Trevor (Thornburg) and I were sophomores, we did not win a game,” Dickenson said. “We have been through a lot. Bringing in new young guys and a new coaching staff was a big change. Since then, we have all worked hard every day to improve. We worked hard for this moment and the hard work was worth it.”

“Our bench gave us a lift when we got in foul trouble in the first half,” said Centerville head coach Brian Keiser. “We kept our composure in the second half, tightened our defense, and executed offensively to get the win. I am extremely proud of these kids.”

Northeastern head coach Brent Ross gave credit to Centerville. “We have lost to Centerville twice, so we have to admit that they are the better team,” Ross said. “They scored on the opening tip to set the tone. We were not mentally ready and that is on me. We did not have the energy we needed to play with tonight. Centerville proved to be mentally tougher than we were. We still have a lot to play for this season.”

Centerville (7-7)      14     4   14    17    49

Williams 3, Landyn Keiser 6, Ethan Vecera 2, Hollendonner 15, Bryson Brown 6, Kaden McCord 3, Nate Dickenson 6, Trevor Thornburg 8 – Total 49

Northeastern (7-5)     8   12     8    14    42

Kaleb Moore 2, Lundy 7, Logan Seal 1, Vanlandingham 4, Landon Scarrette 5, Henry 6, Hunt 9, White 8 – Total 42




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A version of this article appeared in the January 10 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Dan Harney is a sports reporter at the Western Wayne News.