The North Idaho College men’s basketball team is off to a 6-1 start with their most recent wins against Treasure Valley and Gonzaga’s club team.
Mikey Hope and Kaj Sherman had 21 points each as the Cardinals defeated the Treasure Valley Community College Chukars 97-77 Friday night. NIC shot 36 of 51 from the free-throw line in this nonconference game.
Jalil Abdul-Bassit scored 16 points, Keon Lewis 15 points and James Webb III 11 points for NIC.
In NIC’s home opener against the Gonzaga club team, returning sophomores Lewis, Michael Middlebrooks and Sherman led the Cardinals to an 80-54 win Tuesday, Nov. 13 at Rolly Williams Court.
The body paint was out on display as two NIC men’s soccer players represented the Cardinals by cheering on the team decorated in body paint.
Head coach Jared Phay called a timeout with 15:04 on the game clock in the first half as the Gonzaga club team led 9-8. NIC eventually got into the rhythm as they led at the half 46-32.
Chris Sarbaugh, a sophomore transfer from Gonzaga University, was 5 for 5 from the field for 12 points and had a team-high four assists. Lewis scored a game-high 13 points and Middlebrooks scored 12 points for NIC.
“We came out to a slow start tonight,” Phay said. “I think the guys might’ve been a little nervous, but once we got into a game flow we had things rolling.”
Middlebrooks had four blocked shots in the game for the Cardinals, and Webb had three blocked shots to follow.
“Mike Middlebrooks in the middle blocking shots is a big part of our defensive strength,” Phay said. “Jason Wheelock also with his ball pressure on the perimeter is really good for us defensively as well.”
With six minutes remaining in the game the Cardinals led 66-50 and would go on to increase their lead by 10 more points as they won 80-54.
“We need to look for the open man, keep setting good screens and just execute the right way,” Sarbaugh said. “We need to talk more. Our strength is going to be in our defense. We have to talk more and rebound well.”
Sherman had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Abdul-Bassit had 10 points and two steals for NIC.
“I think we have better depth than we have ever had,” Phay said. “We just have to come together and play to our full potential.”
Webb signed a national letter of intent to play at Boise State University in the 2013-2014 basketball season Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Webb is a 6-foot-9-inch wing from Augusta, Ga.
So far this season, he is averaging 11 points, five rebounds and one blocked shot per game for the Cardinals. He is shooting 54 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free throw line.
As a freshman, Webb will have three years to play at Boise State after completing this season at NIC.
“Mike (Middlebrooks) and I have to crash every time the ball goes up,” Webb said. “Everyone is getting along really well so far. We are like one big family. Today we started off very slow, but we picked it up toward the end of the first half.”