DIXON – Halftime adjustments aren't always about Xs and Os; sometimes, they're about attitude.
The Newman Comets turned up their intensity after the break Tuesday night, and promptly pulled away from the Dixon Dukes for a 67-48 win in a Sauk Valley Shootout game at Lancaster Gym.
"We came out after half and played more aggressive, ran our sets better and played better defense," said Newman sophomore Nolan McGinn, who made all five of his shots. "We got good shots through better execution, and got the momentum on our side."
The Comets (1-1) took control of what had been a close game with a huge surge to start the third quarter. Newman scored the first seven points of the period and 13 of the first 17.
A.J. Sharp hit a pull-up jumper, Lucas Terveer nailed a free throw and scored on a stop-and-go move in the lane, then added a pretty scoop shot on a drive after Micah Trancoso's coast-to-coast bucket off a steal.
Cal Jarrett tried to keep the Dukes in it, scoring on a pair of aggressive drives to the hoop, but McGinn scored back-to-back buckets for a 44-28 Newman lead. After Jarrett's three-point play on a putback of his own miss, Sharp hit two free throws and McGinn converted a three-point play on an offensive rebound for a 49-31 Newman lead.
Nate Terveer's full-court drive and layup after a pair of Dixon free throws closed out the quarter and finished off the Comets' 21-9 scoring advantage in the period. After scoring 11 of the first 13 points of the fourth quarter, Newman led 63-35 with 5 minutes left in the game.
"We were just tentative, and didn't look to attack enough," Dixon coach Jason Mead said. "We have to be more aggressive as a unit, and trust that our stuff will work … even against defensive pressure."
The Dukes (0-2) did have the offense flowing early on. After Justin Hohlen scored on a first-quarter inbounds play, Laron Carr and Austin Thomas buried 3-pointers to get Dixon to within three, 15-12, in the final minute of the first quarter.
Carr and Thomas each added another 3 early in the second, and the Dukes trailed just 20-17 with 5:51 to play before halftime.
"We started making more pass fakes, taking a second look instead of just settling for the first pass we saw," said Thomas, who hit four 3s in the game and led the Dukes with 12 points. "We found better shots by moving the ball around, and knocked down some shots."
But Newman started switching up defenses, going back and forth between a tight man-to-man and its tough 1-3-1 trapping zone. The Comets broke off a quick 7-0 run to push their lead to 10, and Thomas and Sharp traded 3-pointers late in the quarter. A Carr bucket on a loose ball and a pair of Jarrett free throws left the Dukes down by seven, 31-24, at the break.
"We allowed 24 points in the first half, and we just focused on defense, defense, defense at halftime," Moore said. "We played more in-your-face in the second half, didn't let them get those set shots they were hitting in the first half, and tried to eliminate their 3-pointers that were hurting us so much."
McGinn and Sharp led Newman with 12 points each, and Moore added 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. The Comets shot 24-for-45 for the game (53.3 percent) and outrebounded the Dukes 34-26.
Jarrett had 11 points, four rebounds and four assists for Dixon, and Carr added nine points.
"We gave up 67 points, and that's unacceptable," Mead said. "But this is a learning process, and we're working hard trying to overcome our youth and inexperience on both ends of the floor."
Sauk Valley Shootout
Newman 67, Dixon 48
Star of the game: Kyle Moore, Newman, 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
Key performers: Nolan McGinn, Newman, 12 points, 4 rebounds; A.J. Sharp, Newman, 12 points, 2 assists, 2 steals; Cal Jarrett, Dixon, 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists; Austin Thomas, Dixon, 12 poins, 4 3-pointers, 2 steals
Up next: Sauk Valley Shootout, at Sterling H.S. – Newman vs. Rock Falls, 5 p.m.; Dixon vs. Morrison, 6:30 p.m.