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Boys basketball: Comets have 'big' plan for sectional semifinal against Seneca

Go big or go home

Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukva)
Newman's Noah McCarty goes up for a jump shot Friday against Riverdale in the Class 2A Regional title game.

The 2012-13 incarnation of the Newman Comets is a deep one.

Ergo, if tonight’s 2A Byron Sectional semifinal against Seneca should wear on, deep into the night, Ray Sharp can look all the way down the bench and keep fresh legs on the floor.

If, by chance, it reaches sextuple-overtime, Syracuse-UConn circa 2009 proportions, the Comets coach actually has one player who’s logged more than 32 minutes in a night this season:

Noah McCarty, freshman by title alone.

“It’s my third season. I’m a junior now, right coach?” McCarty joked during  an interview at the SVM office Tuesday evening.

“He played a whole sophomore schedule and a whole varsity schedule,” Sharp said.

“It’s the postseason, so he’s not a freshman anymore,” senior Kyle Moore added.

The same night he would start for the fresh-soph team this season, McCarty served as the fellow 6-foot-5 forward Moore’s varsity backup. As the season wore on, the varsity minutes swelled. Of late, McCarty plays between 20 and 25 minutes coming off the bench.

In early December, he played more than a full game’s worth of minutes in Kewanee.

Tonight, Moore, McCarty and 6-3 sophomore Nolan McGinn represent the Comets’ biggest advantage.

The Fighting Irish offense centers around the play of speedy point guard Jimmy David (5-9) and off-guards Conlan Callahan (6-2) and Peyton Schrag (5-10), a versatile guard who is second on the team in rebounding.

“We’ve got to contain their guards,” Sharp said. “Our big guys almost have to worry more about help defense than they do about post defense.”

“They’re a guard-oriented team, so we’ll definitely have a size advantage,” Moore said. “We’ll have to work the ball inside and create from there.”

That’s where A.J. Sharp and the rest of the Newman guards come in.

“When we get them the ball, we know Seneca doubles and they turn their head,” Sharp said. “We know we’ve got space and have to get in open lanes for them to kick it back out.”

A year ago, the junior was a prototypical point guard, facilitating microwaves Tim Wilson and Mike Lee en route to a 1A supersectional appearance, the program’s first since 1980. This year, he’s “feeling it” as he looks to score first.

In addition to doling out 2.43 assists per game – second only to Lucas Terveer’s 3.75 – Sharp leads the team at 12.89 points per game.

“My confidence in my shot is a great deal better than it was last year,” Sharp said, “and, at the same time, I’ve got greater confidence in our team this year. We’re playing at a very high level.”

The Comets are especially daunting when Coach Sharp goes double-bigs with Moore and McCarty.

“I love it,” A.J. Sharp said. “[My dad] doesn’t want to hear it, but I don’t have to rebound as hard.”

Nobody rebounds harder than Moore in Coach Sharp’s opinion, nor is anyone more dedicated to busting his hump and getting better.

“One of the best things for Noah, as a talented freshman coming in, is playing with a guy like Kyle every day in practice,” Coach Sharp said.

“He got me to where I am,” McCarty said.

It took a couple of weeks for it to sink in for McCarty that he was – like Moore – a varsity athlete.

“Once they got back from football, he was still pretty big,” McCarty said. “So I was kind of intimidated going up against him in practice.”

That feeling is history. Speaking of which, last season, the Comets lost to St. Bede and talked about it being their last of the season. They rode that mantra all the way to the DeKalb Supersectional.

This time around, the Comets absorbed a 63-37 loss to the Bruins at home Jan. 18. But the next day, they dismantled then-state-ranked Preston 53-34 on the Iowa team’s home floor to trigger a 10-game winning streak.

Making it 11 would be a tall task.

“Watching film on Seneca, they’re definitely one of the hardest-working teams we’ve seen,” Moore said. “We’ll need to match their intensity if we want to keep playing.”

Wonder twins activate

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