STERLING – The first 4 minutes and 20 seconds were literally all Newman.
The third-ranked Comets opened the game with an 18-0 blitz and cruised to a 76-43 Three Rivers North win over Morrison on Wednesday night at Newman High School.
“We hadn’t played in a while, so maybe we were really hungry,” Comets coach Ray Sharp said. “Maybe that break re-energized us. Tonight, our team defense was excellent.”
Noah McCarty got Newman (19-2, 7-1) started with the game’s first two field goals, the first on a strong inside move to the basket, and the second on his own rebound putback.
McCarty then fed a cutting Micah Trancoso for a layup, and John Payan scored off a spectacular save along the sideline by Nate Terveer. Newman was up 8-0, but just getting started.
Terveer and Payan scored off steals before Payan knocked down a 3-pointer. A.J. Sharp added another 3, and it was 18-0 with 3:40 left in the first quarter.
“We just jumped on them,” said Payan, who is back to full strength after battling pneumonia. “When we jump on teams like that, they usually don’t get back up.”
Morrison (9-13, 5-3) did not. Newman led 36-7 after one quarter, and 51-13 at the half.
“I knew if we could withstand the pressure the first couple minutes, we’d settle down,” said Mustangs coach Dave Peugh, whose team had some lineup changes due to undisclosed discipline problems. “But, that didn’t happen. They’re a great basketball team, and you’ve got to give them all the credit in the world.”
Payan scored 10 of his game-high 12 points in the first quarter. McCarty contributed nine points and nine rebounds. Jacob Barnes and Nolan McGinn added eight points apiece, while Terveer and Trevor Bolin each scored seven.
Fourteen of Newman’s 15 players scored, including Chinese foreign exchange student Mengyang “Bob” Zheng, and German foreign exchange student Lars Roleder.
While it took the Comets just over 3 minutes to score 18 points, it took Morrison until the 5:05 mark of the third quarter to surpass that total.
Newman led by 40 three times in the second half.
Star of the game: John Payan, Newman, game-high 12 points
Key performers: Kollin Burn, Morrison, team-high 10 points; Noah McCarty, Newman, 9 points, 9 rebounds
Up next: Morrison at Amboy; Prophetstown at Newman (both 7:30 p.m. Friday)