Six minutes into Northeastern's boys' basketball game Saturday night, things didn't look good for the Bobcats.

They were struggling on offense. They were ineffective on defense. And the combination had them facing an 11-point deficit to an energetic Red Lion squad.

Slowly and surely, though, the Bobcats proved they had the mettle to dig out of the early hole -- and Northeastern ended the night celebrating with a tournament trophy after a 54-44 win against the Lions at the Bobcat Tip-Off Classic.

The end result looked improbable in the early going, but the patient Bobcats picked their way back behind a balanced scoring load and an opportunistic defense.

"We stayed pretty composed," Northeastern coach Don Kauffman said. "We were not playing as hard as Red Lion early on. We had to match their intensity. Once they started doing that, it got us going."

Red Lion opened the game with a sharp shooting touch and turnover-inducing zone defense. Tanner Klinefelter had seven points in the early run, and it pushed the Lions to a 15-4 lead just six minutes into the game.

The Bobcats settled down after the early blitz. Northeastern had closed the Red Lion lead to two points on multiple occasions, but the Bobcats could not take the lead.

The breakthrough finally came at the end of the third quarter, when Northeastern closed the period on an 8-2 run. Fueled by their transition game and Khalid Nwandu's layup with 1:10 to go in the quarter, the Bobcats tied the score at 34 and brought the home crowd to life for the first time on the night.

"It was huge to get the game tied," Kauffman said. "Once we did that, the momentum totally shifted, and we never gave it back up. That was a big mental boost for them, and the guys never looked back."

Red Lion couldn't match the Bobcats' energy in the fourth quarter, and Northeastern's interior scoring finally wore down the Lions. Tournament MVP Alex Reichard had eight points in the fourth, and Northeastern steadily increased its advantage with plenty of trips to the foul line.

"We kind of tightened up a little bit in the second half," Red Lion coach Steve Schmehl said. "We kept battling, but we couldn't get the big play when we needed it or turn them over when we needed it."

The all-tournament team consisted of Northeastern's Nwandu (17 points) and Eric Steadman (10 points), Red Lion's Klinefelter and Evan Erhart (20 points), and Kennard-Dale's Pat Trott and Brandon Mitchell.

* * *

Kennard-Dale 70, Donegal 59: A near-perfect third quarter and a big game from Brandon Mitchell propelled Kennard-Dale past Donegal in the consolation game.

The Rams struggled with their first-half shooting, and the offensive struggles had them trailing 28-21 less than one minute into the third quarter.

That, however, was when K-D flipped the switch. The Rams shot 11-of-15 (73 percent) from the field and committed zero turnovers in the third, boosting them to a lead they did not relinquish. Mitchell was the spark on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

  
Championship Game
NORTHEASTERN 54, RED LION 44
RED LION (44)
   Tanner Klinefelter 5 0-0 11, Evan Ehrhart 8 1-1 20, Jackson 2 2-2 6, Miller 1 1-2 3, Althoff 1 2-4 4, Kerchner 0 0-0 0, Fox 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 6-9 44.
NORTHEASTERN (54)
   Alex Reichard 4 5-7 13, Khalid Nwandu 7 3-6 17, C. Nwandu 3 2-3 8, Eric Steadman 5 0-1 10, E. Cooper 1 4-6 6, K. Cooper 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 14-23 54.
Red Lion  17  6  11  10 -- 44
N'eastrn    8  12  14  20 -- 54

   3-point goals -- Red Lion 4 (Ehrhart 3, Klinefelter). 
  
Consolation Game
KENNARD-DALE 70, DONEGAL 59
KENNARD-DALE (70)
   Brandon Mitchell 11 6-11 28, Shane Solomon 1 8-10 10, Marsteller 0 5-8 5, Pat Trott 6 6-8 18, Moore 3 0-1 7, T. Solomon 1 0-0 2, Baer 0 0-0 0, David 0 0-0 0, Hare 0 0-0 0, Lowe 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 25-38 70.
DONEGAL (59)
   Brumfield 2 3-4 7, Dietrich 1 0-0 2, Heisey 5 0-1 14, Musser 7 1-3 16, Newcomer 3 1-3 7, Colon 2 1-3 5, Houseal 2 0-0 5, Nauman 1 0-0 3, Shenandoah 0 0-0 0, Sager 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 6-14 59.
K-Dale    7  14  23  26 -- 70
Donegal  13  13  13  20 -- 59

   3-point goals -- Kennard-Dale 1 (Moore), Donegal 7 (Heisey 4, Musser, Houseal, Nauman).