BYRON – An elbow and a key foul were the beginning of the end for Newman.
The Comets led unbeaten Winnebago much of the first 10-plus minutes in their Class 2A Byron Sectional championship.
Suddenly things turned, as Newman guard Micah Trancoso was gashed above the left eye with an elbow during the same sequence that Comets center Kyle Moore was whistled for his second foul.
There was 5:17 left in the first half and Newman led 22-21. An even 4 minutes later, Winnebago led 34-27 and was on its way to a 74-52 victory.
"This is one of the few games this year that we did get rattled," said Moore, who scored 11 points. "We lost our composure. We're comfortable with anybody on the court, but when two starters go down like that, it gets a little scary."
"Kyle and Micah are both leaders, and having them both have to go out of the game at the same time really puts a lot of pressure on everybody else," said Comets guard Lucas Terveer, who scored seven points. "Against a team like that, it's tough to do."
The Indians (31-0) love to run and gun, and Newman (25-5) went toe to toe with Winnebago at breakneck pace for a while.
The Comets were still within striking distance, trailing 34-29 at the half. The Indians put the game out of reach with a 10-0 tear to start the second half.
"It's like we were playing ourselves," said Newman's Nic Miller, who scored five points. "They like to do what we like to do. They just do it better. It was hard to keep up with them."
Making it even harder was the fact that Moore was battling illness.
"Kyle was really sick before the game," Comets coach Ray Sharp said. "He was throwing up, so I knew he was going to be fatigued."
To his credit, Moore made no mention of the illness during his interview.
Coach Sharp did not want to run with the Indians.
"I didn't really want the frenetic pace," he said. "I would have taken the score from Wednesday night [Newman's 46-27 win over Seneca]."
The Comets were unable to knock off mighty Winnebago, but a year after reaching the Elite 8 in 1A, Newman was bumped up to 2A and reached the Sweet 16.
"That's a tremendous accomplishment for these past 2 years," coach Sharp said.