MOUNT CARROLL – A.J. Sharp was the man with all the answers during Wednesday's Class 2A West Carroll Regional semifinal between Newman and Morrison.
The Newman junior started with a 3-pointer that erased a 2-0 deficit and just kept going.
The final grade? The Comets earned a 67-48 win behind six 3-pointers and a total of 21 points from Sharp.
Newman advances to play Riverdale in Friday's regional championship game.
"A.J. Sharp is one of the best shooters in the area," Morrison coach Dave Peugh said. "I've known him for a long time, and he is a heck of a player. I am not sure how we left him that open so many times, but that's what he does. He finds a way to get some space for a shot."
Sharp made 6 of 11 attempts from behind the arc. Three of those 3-pointers put the nail in the Mustangs' coffin in the third quarter.
Morrison trailed by as manay as 16 points, but rallied to within nine at 36-27 with 7:46 left in the third. Sharp fired in a 3-pointer to put Newman back up by 12.
A few minutes later, a Joey Brackemeyer free throw pulled Morrison within seven points at 39-32. Sharp again was up to the task, hitting a 3-pointer.
He wasn't done. After John Payan made two free throws to put Newman up 44-32, Sharp buried another 3 from the top of the key to put Newman up 15.
"We had to have those shots," Sharp said. "We have a number of guys on this team that can hit big shots like that, and tonight it was me."
Such dramatics didn't seem likely during the first 6 minutes of the game, when Newman built a 19-3 lead. The run was set up by seven Morrison turnovers, the result of Newman's full-court press.
"We knew that they had one guy that could handle the ball," Sharp said. "So we wanted to put as much pressure on them as possible and force him to get rid of the ball."
That ballhandler was Alexander Volckmann. The 5 foot, 10 inch senior was suffocated in the first quarter.
When Newman's press relented, Volckmann started to find his groove. He scored 12 of his 16 points in the second quarter as Morrison chipped away at the deficit.
"Volckmann can make any shot if you allow him to go to his right," Newman coach Ray Sharp said. "We saw a little of that in the second quarter. If you force him left, you have a better chance of stopping him."
"Alex Volckmann has been a very good player all year," Peugh said. "He probably won't get the recognition because he was on a team with a losing record, but he's done some exceptional things."
Brock Deter added 11 points for Morrison.
Kyle Moore had 13 points, five rebounds and four steals for Newman while sitting out significant time because of foul trouble. Lucas Terveer added 11 points, and John Payan had 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
Star of the game: A.J. Sharp, Newman, 21 points, 6 3-pointers
Key performers: Alexander Volckmann, Morrison, 16 points, 4 assists; Kyle Moore, Newman, 13 points, 5 rebounds
Up next: 2A West Carroll Regional championship, Newman vs. Riverdale, 7:30 p.m. Friday