STERLING – There's an old saying: If you cut off a snake's head, the rest of it will die.
Newman applied that same principle in Tuesday's 51-42 victory over Bureau Valley.
In this case, the snake was Storm point guard Parker Neuhalfen, who was held to a season-low three points on 1-for-12 shooting.
Neuhalfen, who averages 18 points per game, missed his first 10 shots and didn't score until 4 minutes, 53 seconds remained in the fourth quarter. By that time, the Storm trailed 43-34, and they were unable to get closer than five points the rest of the way.
"Taking their best player and holding him down, that's a big part of winning," Newman coach Ray Sharp said. "Our defensive pressure was really good."
"Coach Sharp made a concerted effort to keep the ball out of his hands," BV coach Jason Marquis said, "and we did not do a great job of making it easy for Parker to get open with good screens. Their pressure hurt us, and I don't think we exhibited a lot of poise tonight. It has not been an issue for us, but tonight it was. Credit Newman for taking us out of our comfort zone."
Newman (12-3, 4-1 Three Rivers) was in charge virtually the entire game. A banked-in 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer by reserve guard Nate Terveer put the Comets up 15-5, and the lead grew to as many as 12 points on multiple occasions before Bureau Valley fought back.
The Storm (13-8, 2-4) hit three of their four 3-pointers in the final quarter, the last of which, from reserve forward Hunter Klemme, made the score 46-41 with 2:37 remaining. Bureau Valley didn't score again, however, until 9.6 seconds remained as Newman hit enough enough free throws to salt away the victory.
Kyle Moore, Newman's top inside threat, drew lots of attention from the BV defense and attempted just four shots. He finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.
The offensive slack was picked up by Nic Miller (12 points on 5-for-6 shooting), A.J. Sharp (10 points, 7 assists) and Lucas Terveer (8 points, 6 boards).
"Having Kyle, our big man inside, they're always focusing on him," Miller said. "Tonight they couldn't get out fast enough because they were on him, and I was getting easy shots to knock down."
Brian Lange paced Bureau Valley with 14 points and seven rebounds, Tommy Johnston finished with 13 points and Klemme added eight. The team combined to make just 16 of 43 field goal attempts.
The Storm, in addition to their offensive woes, came up short in two more vital areas. They were just 6-for-14 from the line, and were outrebounded 31-16.
"You just cannot give up second-chance points to a team like Newman on their home floor and expect to come away with a win," Marquis said. "I think our guys battled, especially in the second half, but we put ourselves in too big of a hole to overcome."
Star of the game: Nic Miller, Newman, 12 points, 3 rebounds
Key performers: A.J. Sharp, Newman, 10 points, 7 assists; Kyle Moore, Newman, 10 rebounds, 9 points; Brian Lange, Bureau Valley, 14 points, 7 rebounds
Up next: Amboy at Bureau Valley, Newman at Prophetstown, both 7:30 Friday