STERLING – Newman essentially needed about 4 minutes to nip a modest losing streak in the bud.
The Comets came out on fire in the first quarter, then cruised home with a 69-49 victory over short-handed Riverdale on Friday night in Sterling.
Newman (18-2, 6-1 Three Rivers North) had lost its last two games, against Rockridge and Bureau Valley, but was never in any danger of making it three in a row.
"This kind of boosts team morale," senior guard John Payan said. "We definitely needed this win."
Newman scored the game's first five points, and stretched the lead to 28-10 by the end of the first quarter. The Comets shot a blistering 67 percent (10-for-15) from the field in the first 8 minutes, and also cashed in on 6 of 9 from the free-throw line.
"We needed to jump on them right away, separate from them," Newman coach Ray Sharp said, "and that gave us a chance to get a lot of people playing time."
The lead grew to as many as 27 points (39-12) when backup guard Trevor Bolin dropped in a pair of free throws with 2:40 left in the second quarter, and Sharp had the luxury of going deep into his bench the rest of the way. Riverdale (6-14, 2-5) closed the quarter with an 8-2 run to get to within 21 at halftime.
The Rams got no closer than 17 points in the second half.
Leading the way for Riverdale was sophomore forward Jake Bussert, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Another sophomore, Dan Gebhardt, added nine points and seven boards.
Riverdale played without its top player, junior forward Cole Solomon, due to injury. Another key contributor, freshman guard Dalton Beale, saw only limited action, and hit one of two shots from the field.
Even if his team had been at full strength, however, Riverdale coach Jason Hendrix knew the Rams would have had a tall task.
"It seems like their names change, but it doesn't seem like their style changes," Hendrix said. "[Coach Sharp] does a great job of getting them to play a lot of pressure defense, but then they're flexible. They've got the spot-up shooter. They've got the great floor general. They've got the size inside.
"They're just a nightmare matchup, and they've been doing it for years. Their style of play is something you don't see very often, so when you get it, it's a shock factor, and I think that's what got our young guys tonight."
Bolin led a balanced Newman attack with 11 points, while Nate Terveer, Payan and Nolan McGinn added nine points apiece. A.J. Sharp played a strong floor game with eight points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Payan, the team's top outside marksman, missed the Rockridge game with pneumonia, and was at less than full strength against Bureau Valley. His health has improved the last few days, however, and it showed. He hit 3 of 4 shots from long distance, giving the Comets an even more potent attack.
"It hit me pretty hard," Payan said of his illness, "but I think I'm getting back into a groove. I got in the gym a lot this week, put up a lot of shots – it'll come back."
Star of the game: A,J, Sharp, Newman, 8 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals
Key performers: Trevor Bolin, Newman, 11 points; Jake Bussert, Riverdale, 13 points
Up next: Morrison at Newman, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday