Young core leads Northeastern's turnaround
We've seen the Northeastern boys' basketball team grow up fast this season, from a five-win squad last winter to a District 3-AAA quarterfinalist. With one more win, the Bobcats (17-6) could secure a state playoff berth. All the more impressive: The turnaround has hinged largely on a core of underclassmen guards that includes juniors Elijah Cooper and Chris Nwandu along with sophomore Khalid Nwandu. I thought Khalid (pictured right) was especially impressive Tuesday, during the Bobcats' 51-47 District 3 first-round victory against York Suburban. The 6-foot-0 point guard only finished with 10 points, but really controlled the game. He finished with seven assists, and never seemed to force anything on offense. And when he needed to, Nwandu stepped up an hit the mid-range jump shot with three minutes remaining that put Northeastern up for good. In Khalid Nwandu and Cooper, the Bobcats essentially have two point guards on the floor who can take turns attacking the defense. The pair combined for 13 assists Tuesday, although Cooper did struggle a bit with turnovers in the first half. "That's hard for a lot of teams," Khalid Nwandu said. "They have to worry about two guards. A lot of teams, they don't have to worry about that. We have two dominant guards on this team who can score, pass." Chris Nwandu, meanwhile, dropped down a team-high 13 points, many of those on assists from his brother. "We've been on the same team for as long as I can remember," Chris said. "He's always played up." Add in a smattering of senior leadership -- forward Alex Reichard had 12 key points Tuesday -- and you begin to understand how the Bobcats have been able to turn their fortunes around so quickly. Their season isn't over, of course. Next up is quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Annville-Cleona (20-4) Friday at 6 p.m. at Manheim Township. Even if Northeastern loses, it's guaranteed a playback game -- six of the final eight District 3-AAA teams will qualify for states. But with those three in the fold beyond this season, the immediate future for the Bobcats looks pretty promising.