MONON — Nate Miller stopped in the lane and began to spin to his left.
The move was Miller’s attempt to freeze South Newton’s Riley Patterson and give himself an open layup to end another North White fast break late in the game.
Patterson, however, stepped up into Miller as he spun and lightly bumped him. The North White guard tossed the ball into the air, anticipating a foul call. It didn’t come and in the second the ball hung in the air, it looked as if the Rebels’ Terron Walsh had the easiest rebound or takeaway of his career.
Streaking in from the left side, though, was Vikings senior guard Cale Robertson.
As if set up for an alley-oop, Robertson quickly skied over Walsh and — with just his right hand rising and touching the ball, bat it toward the glass like he was attempting a volleyball kill.
The ball hit the glass and went in to spark a run that once again put the contest out of reach in a 76-41 Midwest Conference victory for the home team.
“Just go with the flow of the game, have fun,” Robertson said of the play. “I just jumped up, tried to tip it in. I’ve never had one of those plays before.”
The bucket represented the final of Robertson’s 27 points in the rout. It also marked one of multiple surges the Vikings (7-5, 2-0 Midwest) utilized in the contest.
Robertson’s three-point play midway through the third quarter gave the home team a 39-28 lead after the Rebels (2-8, 1-2) closed within eight points on a 9-0 runs of their own. Kayden Cruz scored seven of those points on a layup, off a steal, a jumper off another South Newton steal and a long jumper off an inbounds play.
“Hats off to South Newton, though,” North White head coach Matt Sipkema said. “They came in and played us hard, played us smart. I liked that South Newton played with us. They’re a much-improved team.
“(Kayden Cruz) grew up a lot from freshman year to sophomore year.”
Cruz later scored on a layup for as 42-31 deficit, but it was the closest South Newton got after crawling back from a 19-6 score after the first quarter.
The Rebels also closed a 15-point gap (25-10) to 10, and later whittled a 36-19 Vikings lead to a nine-point margin. Yet the host, which started the contest on a 12-0 run, was able to answer every Rebels extended run or push back with a run of its own the way it has done all season — with suffocating defense and a transition offense that put in more than a dozen layups.
“The intensity was there. We just brought it more and good things happened,” Brayden Buschman said. “South Newton gave us a challenge, and we responded. It was a good win, a good team effort.”
Cruz scored 12 to lead the Rebels, while Cy Sammons added 10.
“I liked the fact that, even though some of our guys weren’t shooting well tonight, I don’t think we took a bad shot,” Sipkema said. “Sometimes when you play teams on paper you’re supposed to beat, you might force stuff or don’t play within yourself. No matter the score, we played as a team.”
North White shot 48 percent from the field, even as it missed 18 3s.
After Robertson, Hunter Pogue (14) and Bentley Buschman (12) added double digits in points. Trey Cobb added eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, while Bentley Buschman (six), Robertson (five) and Pogue (three) combined for 14 of the Vikings’ 18 steals.
“We knew we had to stay patient and trust each other,” Robertson said. “Keep moving the ball, keep playing hard defense and good things would come.”