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Boys basketball: Comets hope to start hoops season after football title

A great problem to have

A.J. Sharp is one of the players balancing football and basketball right now. Sharp is the quarterback for the Comets' football team and he'll play guard in basketball.
A.J. Sharp is one of the players balancing football and basketball right now. Sharp is the quarterback for the Comets' football team and he'll play guard in basketball.

Two years ago, Newman won the Class 2A state football title, and the Comets who were also on the basketball team started the hoops season 3 weeks late.

A repeat of that scenario would be just fine with coach Ray Sharp and his team.

"It's a good problem to have. We'll switch gears when we have to, but we want to put off basketball as long as we can," said senior Kyle Moore, a forward on the basketball team and a guard/linebacker on the Class 3A state semifinalist football team.

"We're just thinking about football right now. We'll think about basketball when basketball comes," said senior Nic Miller, a guard in basketball and an offensive end/linebacker in football. "We're hoping it starts a couple weeks late."

Coach Sharp hopes not to see the 13 of the basketball team's 16 players who are also on the football team for a few more weeks.

"It's a win-win for me," said Sharp, whose son, A.J., is the football team's starting quarterback. "If they win Saturday, that's awesome for the football team, and for him. And, if they lose, I get the football players back."

A.J. Sharp, a junior guard, has resisted any involvement with basketball until the time comes, despite the fact that his dad is his basketball coach.

"I stay away as much as possible," A.J. said. "I told him I wasn't touching a basketball until football's over."

Last season was a historic one for the Comets basketball progam, as Newman advanced to the 1A Elite 8, the furthest the program has ever been.

Football players aren't the only fall sports standouts getting a bit of a late start in basketball. Drew Rosengren and Micah Trancoso were members of the Comets' state cross country team.

The basketball program is not only without its varsity football players, but the sophomores as well.

"Right now we have a senior, two juniors, four sophomores and 11 freshmen," coach Sharp said. "We hope that we win Saturday in football and go play in the state game. And, if we start 0-4 or 0-5 in basketball, it's not a big deal."

Gone are stars Mike Lee and Tim Wilson, and the Comets were bumped up to the Class 2A after their success last season.

But that's not lessening the team's hopes.

"Our expectations are the same as they were last year, if not greater," Moore said.

"We should pick up right where we left off," A.J. Sharp said. "I expect the same results, even though we're in 2A. We don't expect to lose."

Newman Comets

Coach: Ray Sharp (6th year, 75-61)

2011-12: 22-11, 12-2 Three Rivers

Advancement: Lost 41-35 to North Shore Country Day in 1A Northern Illinois University Super-Sectional

Key losses: John Hermes, Mike Lee, Jeremy Wilson, Tim Wilson

Key returners: Nic Miller, Kyle Moore, A.J. Sharp, Lucas Terveer

Opener: vs. Rock Falls at Sterling in Sauk Valley Shootout, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

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