FORRESTON – It wasn't surprising Newman was able to defeat Aquin in the semifinals of the Forreston Holiday Tournament on Thursday.
What was surprising, however, was how easy the Comets made it look.
Newman built a big early lead and made it stand up on the way to a 74-58 victory over the Bulldogs. The teams have waged many memorable regular-season and postseason battles in recent years, but this was not one of them.
"It was kind of a surprise," sophomore forward Noah McCarty said. "We knew Aquin was going to come out and give us a fight until the end, but we got into a nice rhythm in the first quarter."
"We played really good team defense, finally," Newman coach Ray Sharp said. "We knew who the threats were, and took them away. We made the guys shoot who we wanted to shoot, and if their better players shot, we made it a tough shot."
The Comets (8-0) led 20-6 after the first quarter and 43-26 at halftime, with players taking turns in the spotlight. A.J. Sharp and Noah McCarty each scored eight points in the first quarter, then Nolan McGinn and John Payan took over in the second period.
McGinn and Payan were a combined 8-for-8 from the field in the second quarter, with Trevor Bolin also dropping in a pair of layups without a miss.
McCarty took over in the third quarter. He hit 5 of 6 shots from close range to fend off whatever comeback opportunities the Bulldogs (8-1) may have been working on. The closest Aquin got was 12 points at 60-48 after a basket from Aiden Chang, but Newman was never in any serious danger.
McCarty was a handful all night with 20 points and 15 rebounds. He picked up his fourth foul with 1:38 left in the third quarter, but by then the Comets were ahead 59-38.
McGinn finished with 14 points, while Payan and Sharp added 12 each.
Chang, Andrew Martin and Rian Borgmann each had 11 points for Aquin, who will take on Polo for third place tonight.
Newman, meanwhile, gets a shot at Winnebago. It is a rematch of a sectional final last season, won 74-52 by the Indians.
"It's a revenge game," McCarty said. "Hopefully we can come out and give them a fight."
"They're really, really good," coach Sharp said. "They're deep, they all shoot it well, so we've got to play an exceptional game, and hopefully we can do that."
Star of the game: Noah McCarty, Newman, 20 points, 15 rebounds
Key performers: Nolan McGinn, Newman, 14 points; Andrew Martin, Aquin, 11 points, 7 rebounds
Up next: Forreston tourney title game, Newman vs. Winnebago, 8 p.m. today