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Nighthawks Soar into Final Four with 4th Quarter Rally

By Maria Miller


By Jon Miller

Denver – The Northfield Nighthawks are headed back to the Final 4, but this time, they have a chance to win. The last time the Nighthawks made the Final 4, was in 2020 when covid hit, halting the state tournament and their chances of state glory.
“It feels good to be back, knowing that with this squad, we can make it far,” Northfields Justus Michael said. “We just want to get it done; jobs not finished.”
Northfield trailed throughout the game, and just like their mascot, a nocturnal bird, the
Nighthawks took flight late. Northfield outscored Mead 21-3 in the final period to seal their
second trip to the final four.
“We understood that we had to get back to the basics of closing out, playing in front of the
basketball, keep our guy in front of us and the basket,” Northfield head coach Dre Calloway
said of his team’s fourth quarter.

“Slide over to get some help in certain assignments that we were unable to get done in the first three quarters, just get back to fundamentals.”

Trailing Mead 41-40 late in the third period, Northfield looked to take the lead for the first time since early in the first. Mead’s Matthew Angelo and Mason Willyard hit back to back threes, followed by a layup by Averey Baucom, turning the 1 point deficit to 9 to end the third.

“The refuse to lose mindset. We write that on the board before every game and that kicked in, in the fourth quarter. Knowing that we have a bunch of seniors and this could be our last game, just made us play harder,” Michael said.

Heading into the final period down by 9, the Nighthawks needed a spark. That spark came from Da’Quan Slayton. Slayton stole the quarter-opening inbounds pass for a layup. Slayton stuck again with a three.
“When I play aggressively, I know when they are going to throw it, so I play tighter so I got the steal and we had more energy,” Northfields Da’Quan Slayton said.
Slayton’s steal and basket springboarded the Nighthawks.

“Da’Quan Slayton, our senior guard, he is the heart and soul of our team. He is the catalyst
defensively. He sat out the majority of the third quarter and my assistants did a good job of
keeping him into the game, so when we did get him into the game to start the fourth, he made a big play defensively,” Calloway said.

Down 49-45, Meads Dominic McLawrance put the Mavericks back up by 6. From this point on, it was all Northfield. McLawrance’s putback was the only field goal the Mavericks managed in the final period as the Nighthawks cranked up the heat on both ends of the floor.
“Our coach was saying spacing, and we didn’t listen to him until the fourth quarter, and that is on us,” Michael said. “I felt like our coaches prepared us, everybody told us to space, and I feel that once the fourth quarter hit, we found out.”

Northfield’s ability to receive points from multiple players paid off in the final period as six
different Nighthawks added their name to the scorebook. “That is a credit to our team. Our kids are selfless and enjoy seeing other kids well, especially on the offensive end. I think we do a good job of sharing it. Everyone knows and understands that Justus is our guy but after Justus, we have a handful of guys that can step up and contribute,” Calloway said.

Northfield will play the winner of the Mesa Ridge / Dakota Ridge game on Friday.

Dominic McLawrence 13 Matthew Angelo 12 Mason Willyard 12 Averery Baucom 9 Kyler
Crump 3 George Hubert 3
Justus Michael 14 Jordan Jefferson 12 Gyasi Hawthorne 10 Da’Quan Slayton 9 Judah
Michael 7 Daishon Walker 5 Nehemiah Tomlinson 4

1 2 3 4 T

8 Mead 16 14 19 3 52

1 Northifield 7 20 13 21 61