PROPHETSTOWN – For 28 minutes, the Newman boys basketball team's play against Prophetstown was a recipe to get beat.
The Comets came up aces the last 4 minutes, however, and pulled out a 55-52 win over the Prophets. Newman finished the game on a 13-5 run, and that included an after-the-fact 3 at the buzzer from Prophetstown.
Newman (13-3, 5-1 Three Rivers) went 1-for-10 from 3-point range, missed 11 of 14 free throws in the first three quarters and was out-rebounded 33-31 by a smaller team, but all those sins were forgiven with a fantastic finish.
"We definitely had to work hard for that win," reserve guard Nate Terveer said. "We weren't just going to walk in and have them give it to us."
"I thought they played harder than us all night," Newman coach Ray Sharp said. "They got to 50-50 balls. They out-rebounded us and we're bigger than them. I give them a lot of credit because I thought they really, really played hard tonight."
Prophetstown (9-9, 3-3) led 47-42 after Devin Johnson cashed in the first of two free throws with 4 minutes, 14 seconds to play, but it was all Newman the rest of the way. Kyle Moore scored on a pair of reverse layups, the second of which gave the Comets a 48-47 lead with 1:20 to play.
After a steal from Terveer, A.J. Sharp cashed in a pair of free throws to up the margin to 50-47 with 49 seconds to play.
The Prophets' Johnson missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 27 seconds left, Nic Miller rebounded and was fouled by Zach Inskeep. Miller dropped in two free throws to up the margin to 52-47 with 23.5 seconds left.
Terveer followed with a steal, and A.J. Sharp added a free throw with 17.5 seconds to play to up the margin to 53-47.
Prophetstown got some life when Grant Ames was fouled on a 3-pointer by Miller with 13.6 seconds remaining. Ames made the first two free throws and missed the third, but the last of six blocks by the Comets' Moore, after a Prophet corralled the rebound, preserved a 53-49 Newman lead.
A.J. Sharp's two free throws with 5.7 seconds left to play put Newman up 55-49, and a 3 by Prophetstown's Grant Ames at the buzzer accounted for the final margin.
Newman hit 9 of 10 free throws in the final 2 minutes, 40 seconds, after struggling mightily from the stripe before that.
"I thought we played a real smart last 4 minutes, other than the foul on the 3 in the corner," coach Sharp said. "We executed on offense, played good defense, and once we got the lead, we're kind of tough because we can handle the ball, spread the court and get to the foul line."
A.J. Sharp led the Comets with 15 points, but was just 4-for-16 from the field. Moore was solid all night with 13 points, six rebounds and six blocks, while Terveer contributed eight points and five boards off the bench.
Grant Ames paced Prophetstown with 13 points, Johnson had nine and Carter Ames added seven.
Johnson took little consolation in leading the Prophets to the brink of victory, instead focusing on a pair of turnovers at crunch time. He threw the ball away with 2 minutes to play and his team clinging to a 47-46 lead, then had a pass tipped away that led to Terveer's steal with a minute to go.
"I'm a point guard and I'm supposed to be a leader," Johnson said, "and I threw a couple of bad passes that led to Newman baskets. They got in the double bonus and we kept fouling them, and we pretty much kind of handed it to them. I'm not trying to take anything away from them because they played a great game, but I just think we could have done a few things differently in the end."
Star of the game: Kyle Moore, Newman, 13 points, 6 rebounds, 6 blocked shots
Key performers: Grant Ames, Prophetstown, 13 points; A.J. Sharp, Newman, 15 points
Up next: Newman at Amboy, Prophetstown at Bureau Valley, both 7:30 Tuesday