ROCKFORD — It seems as if the Northview Wildcats have the number of the Greenville Yellow Jackets.
For the second straight year the Wildcats ended the season of the Yellow Jackets. This year’s loss probably hurts a little more than last season, though.
The 19-win Yellow Jackets fell in the opening round of the Class A district boys basketball tournament 71-57 to the Wildcats (14-7) at Rockford High School on Monday.
The Wildcats also gave the Yellow Jackets their lone regular season blemish with a 49-45 win at home on Feb. 25.
Come March, regular season wins just don’t mean much.
The Wildcats managed to hold on to the lead for majority of the game. In the end, the game was won at the free throw line, as the Wildcats attempted 47 for the game.
“We knew it could go either way. We knew they were a very good team, but yes the same thing happened at their place last weekend,” Greenville coach Mark Haist said. “When they got out ahead they are able to dictate that tempo.
“I still thought we had them in that third quarter. We just never got over the hump. Every time we thought we could get a stop we sent them to the free throw line,” he added.
Northview led 32-24 at halftime. Wildcats senior Darren Kaputska hit three of his game-high 33-points at the buzzer to help extend the lead.
“We wanted to make sure we played a full 32 minutes,” Northview coach Trevor Chalmers said. “We expected them to come out with some energy and we wanted to withstand that. We had a good first half and Darren (Kapustka) hit a big shot at the end of the half.”
The Yellow Jackets fought to get within one point at 44-43 after a basket by Torrey Davis.
Northview, though, shot 38 of its 47 free throws after the Davis basket.
“We weren’t trying to foul, but they were calling them tonight,” Haist said. “All season long we don’t see those calls and all of sudden tonight there are 47 free throws.
“We can’t drop back because we had to make plays. They just took over the game,” added.
“We were able to get through their run and make sure we had a small lead,” Chalmers said. “We were able to get to the free throw line and kind of dictate the way it played out.”
Northview’s big two, Kapustka and Kevin Rich (24 points) combined to shoot 26 fourth quarter free throws and finished with 57 of the Wildcats’ 71 points.
“I thought we had some nerves early. We played timid,” Haist said. “Unfortunately, that could have come because of the good regular season we had. The expectations were high, but you can’t play that way.”
Davis led the Yellow Jackets with 21 points. Austin Somerfield added 13 points and Chris Mickey 11 points.
Greenville loses seven seniors from its conference champion team this year, including starters Davis, Mickey, Somerfield and Aaron Crebessa.
“This is a special group of guys. They’ve been like family,” an emotional Haist said. “They are like brothers to each other. I truly love them and I hope they come back for years to come, to share all their experiences and everything they will do in the future.”
Northview will face the Lowell Red Arrows on Wednesday in the district semifinals. They split their regular season series.
The district final will be Friday at 7 p.m. at Rockford.
NORTHVIEW 71, GREENVILLE 57
Greenville 12 12 22 11 — 57
Northview 14 18 18 21 — 71
GREENVILLE (19-2) — Davis 8 4-6 21, Crebessa 1 0-1 3, Somerfield 4 5-9 13, Boehm 1 0-1 2, Mickey 3 3-3 11, Krusniak 3 1-1 7. Totals: 20 13-20 57. Three-point goals: Mickey 2, Davis, Crebessa. Total fouls: 30. Fouled out: Heppe, Crebessa, Somerfield, Mickey. Technical foul: Bench.
NORTHVIEW (14-7) — D. Kapustka 7 17-22 33, Rich 5 12-17 24, Ruschmann 2 0-1 4, Slotsema 2 1-3 5, R. Kapustka 0 0-2 0, Alber 2 1-2 5. Totals: 18 31-47 71. Three-point goals: Kapustka 2, Rich 2. Total fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.