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Hungry Northwood takes IWN/Gary Raya tournament title
IRVINE – There’s a hunger about Northwood’s boys basketball team that has fueled its recent success.
The host Timberwolves won their sixth straight, defeating eighth-ranked Edison, 63-55, Saturday night in the championship game of the Gary Raya/Irvine World News Tournament.
Northwood’s latest win was special to their star forward, Jake Linsky, for many reasons. It was the first time in three title-game appearances at the tournament that Northwood had come out victorious. Additionally, defeating a team ranked in the county’s top 10 sent the message the Timberwolves (7-4) had been hoping for.
“I think our team gets overlooked a little,” said Linsky, who was the tournament’s MVP. “We kind of have a chip on our shoulder. We wanted to make a point. Any time you can get a tournament championship, it’s huge.”
Linsky had a game-high 25 points. He added 11 rebounds, four steals, and three blocks. The senior was particularly dangerous in the third quarter, when the Chargers (8-2) were forced to go small following center Tommy Barlow’s fourth foul.
Edison led 37-34 at the half and was up, 49-46, at the end of the third quarter. Heading into the final period, Chargers guard Randall Walker had gotten into the paint at will. He had 16 points through three quarters, but was held scoreless in the fourth until an inconsequential layup at the final buzzer.
“We had a lot of energy in the fourth quarter,” Timberwolves guard Akshay Harishankar said. “We really wanted this win. We just came together as a team and shut them down.”
Walker finished with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. David Atencio added eight points along with six rebounds and six assists.
The Timberwolves finally pulled even at 49 with a Jacob Huynh (14 points) free throw with 6:20 remaining. Harishankar gave Northwood the lead with a reverse layup following an offensive rebound. He extended the lead to 53-49 with 4:35 to go.
The Northwood backcourt was disruptive late. Huynh’s steal and score with 2:28 remaining made it 59-51.
Northwood coach Tim O’Brien says it helps to have guards that play big.
“Those two guys play exceptionally hard all the time,” he said of Huynh and Harishankar. “They do not take plays off. At that level, I can’t even afford to take them out either. Those are special backcourt guys.”