STERLING – As tough as the Newman Comets’ defense is to start with, it gets even tougher once they get the lead.
The Comets never trailed Tuesday against Three Rivers rival Amboy, and that spelled bad news for the Clippers. Newman turned a 10-point halftime lead into a rout after the break, winning 51-33 on its home court.
“They took us out of everything we wanted to do offensively,” Amboy coach Chase Goodeill said. “We were hesitant and indecisive, had no cohesiveness or continuity, and because of that we made a lot of unforced errors.”
Newman’s game plan was to make things uncomfortable for Amboy shooters Damon Quest and Tyson Powers, and the Comets did that from the get-go.
The Clipper duo, who each have 20-point games already this season, was held to a combined six points on 2-for-9 shooting in the first half.
“We knew Damon and Tyson were their big guns, and we didn’t want to let them get comfortable shooting,” Newman guard Micah Trancoso said. “We turned up the pressure, hounded the ball, and dictated from the get-go.”
Without their big scorers getting free, Amboy (2-3, 0-1) struggled offensively. The Clippers had as many turnovers (12) as shot attempts in the first half – but trailed just 18-8 at the break.
The Comets (5-1, 1-0) committed just four turnovers before half, but shot 7-for-27 to match Amboy’s 25-percent shooting clip. A big reason: Newman settled for a lot of 3-point attempts, going 3-for-16 from beyond the arc.
“At halftime, the coaches told us we had to start getting the ball down low to Kyle [Moore], and run our offense through the post,” said Newman guard Nate Terveer, who had eight points and three assists. “That got us more open looks and helped us execute better and run more set plays. Plus, it got us into our defense, and that led to a lot of fast-break baskets.”
Newman shot 9-for-13 from the field in the third quarter, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. The Comets opened the second half the same way they opened the game, as Micah Trancoso (11 points, 3-for-4 3-pointers) buried a 3 from the wing. Moore (4 points, 4 rebounds, 5 steals, 1 block) scored inside, then found A.J. Sharp (5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) on a kickout pass for another 3.
Sharp drove down the lane for a layup on the next Newman possession, then Nic Miller (9 points) hit a mid-range jumper for a 30-12 lead.
After Amboy got a pair of free throws from both Powers (11 points, 4 steals, 1 block) and Quest (9 points, 9 rebounds), Miller nailed a 3 to kick-start a 12-0 Comet run to close out the third quarter. The spurt was highlighted by Noah McCarty’s hook shot and Moore’s coast-to-coast layup off a steal at midcourt, and McCarty found a wide-open Nolan McGinn for 3 to close out the period and give Newman a 42-16 lead.
Newman led 46-16 when both teams started to substitute liberally.
The Comets finished the game 20-for-49 (40.8 percent) from the field, including 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc, and nabbed steals on 12 of Amboy’s 22 turnovers while committing just 12 turnovers themselves. Newman assisted in 15 of its 20 baskets, with nine different players dishing them out.
The Clippers finished 11-for-37 from the field (29.7 percent), including 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) from 3-point range. Quest was 2-for-9 and Powers 4-for-15, with seven of Powers’ points coming in the final 4 minutes. Tanner Behrends added two points, five rebounds and two assists.
“We’ve got to get more guys involved – and some of that is my fault,” Quest said. “They played great defense; they were double- and triple-teaming us, getting right on us as we crossed halfcourt, and they also had great help-side D.
“We’ve just got to learn from this, put in the work to learn the new motion offense, and keep getting better everyday.”
Newman 51, Amboy 33
Star of the game: Micah Trancoso, Newman, 11 points, 3-for-4 3-pointers, 3 steals
Key performers: Nate Terveer, Newman, 8 points, 3 assists, 1 block; Kyle Moore, Newman, 4 points, 4 rebounds, 5 steals, 1 assist, 1 block; Tyson Powers, Amboy, 11 points, 4 steals, 1 block; Damon Quest, Amboy, 9 points, 9 rebounds
Up next: Newman at Erie, 7:30 p.m. Friday; Bureau Valley at Amboy, 7:30 p.m. Friday