UNION TOWNSHIP | Saturday was the beginning of crunch time for last-minute holiday shoppers.
Bishop Noll, however, knew it had to put plenty in its basket early.
The Times No. 6 Warriors surged to an astounding 25-0 run to close the first quarter and went on to beat host Wheeler 68-41 Saturday night in Greater South Shore Conference action.
Two quick Austin Greiner hoops gave Wheeler a 4-0 lead in the rivalry matchup, but Noll closed the first quarter with 25 unanswered and cruised while using 14 different players in the game.
“We came out with a lot of intensity,” said Noll’s Tyreon Gates, who led the team with 18 points.
“We wanted to take them down right at the beginning. That’s what the plan was.”
Gates hit several turnaround jumpers and the Warriors could not miss the basket during a defense-fueled offensive exhibition.
Gates and Jalen Hord (10 points) each had eight points the first half as Noll built a 42-16 lead. Larry Crisler had 15 of his 17 in the first half.
“My teammates just kept getting me the ball,” Gates said. “We just work together really well and have each other’s backs.”
Noll (6-0, 4-0) now owns a four-game win streak in the series.
“Any time you come to Wheeler you’re going to be pumped,” Noll coach Drew Trost said. “Andrean is still probably No. 1 (rival) for us, but Wheeler is a close second.”
The Bearcats (4-2, 2-1) were shocked after Noll’s big run and did not get many open looks at the basket.
“Our pressure gives a lot of people problems,” Trost said. “We’ve got a lot of quick defenders who really get after people.”
Nine of Noll’s 14 participating players scored.
Jason Graf and Jeremy Truchan each scored eight for the Bearcats.
This is Noll’s fourth consecutive season with a season-opening win streak of at least six.
“We’ve established an identity of getting after people but also playing good team ball with a lot of depth,” Trost said. “I’m definitely proud of our program. We had a lot of inexperience coming into this year. (Being 6-0 at Christmas) was our goal.
"We’ve got a lot of big games against big schools coming up.”