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Winnebago puts Comets away in third quarter

Tough pill to swallow

The Newman High School basketball team walks off the court after falling 74-52 to Winnebago in the Class 2A Byron Sectional championship game.
The Newman High School basketball team walks off the court after falling 74-52 to Winnebago in the Class 2A Byron Sectional championship game.

BYRON – Sometime in the next couple days, Newman boys basketball coach Ray Sharp is going take a seat in front of his favorite TV and pop in the tape from Friday's Class 2A Byron Sectional final. 

He probably won't grab any popcorn or soda. His stomach probably wouldn't handle it.

He'll watch the little things that the Newman Comets were able to get away with early against the Winnebago Indians that turned into big problems late in the second quarter and for all of the third quarter.

He'll watch and see why Winnebago will be playing in Tuesday's DeKalb Supersectional after a 74-52 win. 

"I want to pop in the tape and watch that 10-0 run in the third quarter," Sharp said. "It didn't seem like that much, or that we were that far behind. Then boom, they had a big lead. That's too much against a team like Winnebago."

The first 14 minutes of Friday's game were like a classic bout between two heavyweight sluggers. The Indians took a shot, and Newman (25-5) reeled a bit before firing a punch back. 

The Comets connected with the first haymaker, 3-pointers by Nic Miller and Micah Trancoso that put Newman up 9-5 with 5:46 left in the first quarter. All that did was spur a 4-0 Winnebago run that tied the score. 

Lucas Terveer had an answer, hitting a 3-pointer of his own. Back-and-forth it went, and the Comets closed the quarter with an 18-16 lead after A.J. Sharp made two of three free-throw attempts with 1.7 seconds left. 

"It gave us a lot confidence coming out and hitting some shots and playing with them," Miller said. "Going into halftime down by five or six points felt really good, but we knew that they were probably going to come out and make a push."

"From the onset, I felt like the pace was a little faster than we wanted to go," Ray Sharp said. "When they play that press, it's easy to fall into that game. You move it upcourt fast and then work the offense fast. Once they got us into that, it played into their game. They are used to that speed and have the athletes to play it the whole game. We have depth, but not quite as much depth as them."

The Winnebago run started in the last 2 minutes of the first half, shortly after Trancoso left the game with a cut above his left eye and starting center Kyle Moore – who battled flu-like symptoms before the game – picked up his second foul. 

Matt Reinke, who missed his first four shots, hit a 3-pointer to put Winnebago up 32-27. Two Derek Polkowski free throws extended the lead out to 34-27 before A.J. Sharp hit a jumper for the last points of the half. 

Winnebago (31-0) blew the game open by scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter. Reinke had six of those points, including making a free throw after being fouled on a made 3-pointer. The run put Winnebago up 44-27. 

"It all started with our defense," Reinke said. "We picked up our intensity, started making them force things. We always look to turn our defense into offense on the other end."

Reinke, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, finished with a game-high 27 points. He made eight of 20 field-goal attempts, shot 3-for-11 on 3-point attempts and was 8-for-9 from the line. 

"We came out focused on stopping Reinke and [Jacoby] Posley," A.J. Sharp said. "Early on, they weren't hitting shots, but they have so many other guys that can score. Once Reinke got going, it put a lot of pressure on our defense to stop him and not let other players get open."

Posley had 13 points, six of which came in fourth quarter, helping stave off Newman's hope of a comeback. 

"I think we got fatigued," Ray Sharp said. "They can come at you so many ways. That's why you started seeing some missed shots and us getting beat on the offensive boards." 

Newman missed some opportunities that could have slowed the Winnebago run. Sharp had a pair 3-pointers rim out, and Moore missed four shots from inside the paint. The Comets shot 2-for-13 for the quarter, scoring four points to Winnebago's 15. 

"It gets very frustrating when the shots won't fall," A.J. Sharp said. "It was tough because you see them pulling away, and that makes you want to try even harder, and then you start pushing and forcing things." 

Sharp led Newman with 20 points, going 8-for-21 from the field. Moore had 11 points and eight rebounds. 

The Comets made the sectional final a year after advancing to the supersectional in Class 1A. This was the farthest a Newman boys basketball team had gone in 2A, and followed a football season in which the Comets advanced to the semifinal round for the first time in Class 3A. 

"We felt the same about this as we did losing to a team like Aurora Christian in football," Miller said. "We know that's a very good team that can win it all. We wanted to come out and play our hardest and give ourselves the best chance of knocking them off. We did that, and we're proud of what we've done this season." 

Star of the game: Matt Reinke, Winnebago, 27 points, 6 rebounds

Key performers: A.J. Sharp, Newman, 20 points, 3 assists; Jacoby Posley, Winnebago, 13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals

Inside: SVM reporter Larry Brennan takes a closer look at the 2A Byron Sectional final

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