Columbus City League Championship Photos: Northland vs Walnut Ridge -Start Of A Dynasty?
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2011 Columbus City League Championship: Northland vs Walnut Ridge
Story By Michael Goins -I will start off by asking the obvious question. Are the Northland Vikings a Dynasty?
The Northland Vikings won their 5th straight Columbus City League Championship today in beating the “upstart” Walnut Ridge Scots at East High School. That’s what Walnut Ridge coach Jason Bates called his team in the locker room after the game, referring to the feelings his team must have felt on their first trip to the Columbus City League Championship. “I Think they felt the excitement and pressure of being here“, said Bates. This is Walnut Ridge’s first Columbus City League Championship appearance since the league went to two divisions. “No excuses“, said Bates. “Northland did what they had to do to win”. “Our attention now turns to the state tournament“. It’s what you would expect from the third year coach that came to the brink of knocking off the the team from the Morse Road area that shows no respect for the CCL. Just as the Vikings from the past use to prey upon the coast of Europe, the Vikings of today are a group of young men with names like Burke, Scott, Robinson, Potts, Cornley, Justice, Pierre and Williamson and their prey is the Columbus City League. “Coming into the season we knew we could win it all“, said Devon Scott. “We lost Jared Sullinger and J.D. Weatherspoon, but Jalen(Robinson) and I stepped up and got the job done“. “They matched up well against our height, but Burke and Potts kept them off balance on the outside“, said Scott. “We work well together as a team“, said Jalen Robinson. I missed a couple of games in the regular season, but when I got back into the lineup, I was able to make a contribution.
The question all season was who was going to step up in the CCL to give Northland a run for the money. Beatings of Mifflin 100-57, Linden-Mckinley 89-41, and Whetstone 70-37 gave the impressions that Northland was off and running for the fifth straight year. But things changed somewhere in the midpoint of the season. Robinsons exit definitely hurt and the victories weren’t as easy to come by. Narrow wins over Brookhaven, Centennial, and the loss to St. Edwards showed that this Viking team could be “had” by the right team. Walnut Ridge could have been that team today, as Northland was not able to put the Scots away until the very end. “This was a team effort” said Trey Burke. “Walnut Ridge came to play today. They weren’t the first team this year to try to slow me down, but with most teams, you have to pick your poison. If they slow me down, other players are going to step up, said Burke. Today, it was “the man with no name”, Jordan Potts, that stepped up big for Northland. I call him that because Potts is in the same situation that Burke was in last year. Talented, but surrounded by other bigger stars that get all the press. Potts time will come next year, as his play will then be key to the success of the Vikings. Today, Potts just gave us an look ahead as to what to expect from him in his senior year.
The Northland Vikings kept the run going that started with Sullinger and Weatherspoon. It was important that we step up as a team and stand on our own, said Burke. Other teams aren’t going to be afraid of us based on what we did last year. Coach Sullinger agreed with the senior guard. “I knew this team could win“, said Sullinger. Once they started believing it, my job was easy. I’ve been in the locker room right after some of Northlands biggest games and coach Sullinger connects with his players. There is a strict teacher to student relationship in the locker room and it works for this team. Sullinger teaches and the players learn. I’ve never seen any player talk back, or talk under his breath in defiance or anything like that in a Northland locker room and that says a lot about the team. When I asked Coach Sullinger, if holding the trophy was getting old, he replied with one word, “Never”..
After five straight CCL championships, what’s next for this team? Can this team make a deep run into the state playoffs. I am going to reserve judgement on that for the moment, because I want to see how “this” Vikings team responds when it gets into trouble late in a game. There won’t be a Jared Sullinger in the low post that can take over a game. Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson aren’t built for taking over games yet. They’re both about 30 pounds and 1 year of experience away from that. Northlands success in the post season will be what happens when they run into that surburban school that has decent height and can shoot the three from outside. That type of team has been the template for defeating Northland in the past. Teams like Gahanna and St. Edwards that can play from the perimeter. Perimeter teams have been Kryptonite for the Northland Vikings and we’ll have to see how Coach Sullinger adjusts to the perimeter style offenses that his team is going to see in the post season. CCL is slash and burn, drive to the basket, big dunks, playground, style basketball. Surburban basketball is about organization and structure. There is an order to the offense that you don’t see in the CCL. That’s not a good or bad thing. It’s just a different style of play that CCL teams have to be prepared for. For the Walnut Ridge Scots and the Northland Vikings, success in the post season will depend on how well they can adjust to the non-Columbus City League style of play they are going to face. Final Score Northland 59 Walnut Ridge 52. If these were Super Bowl wins or NCAA tournament wins, or NCAA BCS Championship wins, they would call that team a dynasty. I will will end this article by asking the obvious question. Are the Northland Vikings a Dynasty?? Your Comments..