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Column: Community plays big role in Newman’s upswing

Eastland's Eric Schaney goes up for a shot Tuesday against Mooseheart. The Cougars lost their 1A DeKalb Supersectional game 59-41 to the Red Ramblers.
Eastland's Eric Schaney goes up for a shot Tuesday against Mooseheart. The Cougars lost their 1A DeKalb Supersectional game 59-41 to the Red Ramblers.

In sociology, a mechanical society refers to a smaller, but closer-knit community, as opposed to an organic society, which is a large community that lacks social interaction amongst individuals. 

Newman closely resembles a mechanical society, which is why its team drew more interest than Bloomington's organic tendency. Of the 24 sections in the Convocation Center that were occupied by fans, 15 of them were filled predominantly with Newman fans. Six were filled with Bloomington Central Catholic fans, while one was undistinguishable. 

Newman is a unique school, since students from various cities are allowed to enroll. The branches of the Comets extend into the reaches of these communities, one of them being Rock Falls.

The Rockets have recently lost a fellow classmate, and the Newman cheerleaders showed their respect by wearing black-and-green ribbons in their hair to honor the Rock Falls community. 

Hot Potato: The Saints proved to be the epitome of what team basketball looks like in the first half. Every offensive possession involved at least four passes, and many of them resulted in points. 

The official stats claimed that only seven baskets were assisted by the Saints, a number that most likely just came from an overwhelmed statistician. Bloomington Central Catholic built a 10-point lead after the first quarter, which closely resembled its final victory margin of 12 points. 

Efficient on the wrong side: Bloomington Central Catholic started off hot, shooting 43.8 percent from the field in the first half. The Comets shot 33.3 precent from the field.

However, the Comets had trouble shooting from the outside, going only 10 percent from beyond the arc, compared to the Saints' 39 percent from 3-point land in the opening half. 

Considering Newman was also plagued with eight turnovers in the first half, the 17-point lead that the Saints held was very understandable.

Give the Comets credit, as they evened the playing field in the second half to cut the deficit to as few as 10 points with just over 2 minutes left to play. 

Don't be sad it's over; be happy it's happening: Nobody likes to lose. From a player's standpoint, losing is tough, knowing your athletic career, and success, is limited. But perhaps being a coach's son is the worst role to fill in a loss. 

While fielding an interview, sophomore Noah McCarty had a little friend, who was an assistant coach's son. Many of the players had a look of disappointment on their faces. But the coach's son looked like he had just been told that the world was going to end as he clung to McCarty's waist. Little explanation was needed; he was just upset that he was going to have to wait another year to watch his favorite team play some ball. 

He won't be disappointed next year, either. While the Comets have some big shoes to fill, the program is still on a large upswing. Two Elite 8s, and three Sweet 16s are something to be proud of.

A couple key players will return, and many more will accept a larger role in which they are fully capable of flourishing. And it's obvious that the seed has been planted that will motivate the youth – even if they are still in grade school – in the Newman community. 

Late bloomers: Both Mooseheart and Eastland came out showing some inexperience on the big stage. It took more than 3½ minutes for Mooseheart to score, while Eastland scored its first field goal with 1:29 left in the first quarter. 

In addition, the Red Ramblers featured four players taller than 6-foot-4, something new to the Cougars. The Cougars missed a handful of open layups. They also went up against a unique defense, a 2-1-2 set that featured 6-foot-7 senior Mangisto Deng at the high post, which put a dent in Eastland's offense. 

Some bad blood: Early in the fourth quarter, Dalton Shaner headed to the bench with a bloody lip. He suffered it late in the third after taking an elbow driving to the basket, forcing him to miss some precious game time.

Mooseheart fans then hounded the referees for not making Shaner sit out more, vocalizing their disdain as the Cougars played legal, physical, hard-nose defense. They even went as far as starting the chant "He's still bleeding."

Shaner responded with a razzle-dazzle spin move that he converted into a nice layup. 

Powder keg produces spark: One of Eastland's runs in the game was sparked by junior Eric Schaney, a muscular guard notorious for shredding defenses on the football field. His teammates followed his calm, fearless demeanor on the court to cut the defeicit to single digits before the half. 

"Well, I told them all game long that we will be fine," said Shaney. "Everyone was worried about their height. I said, 'No, we can push through it.'

"I was going to leave everything I had out there for the seniors and everyone around. It's what we do at Eastland – leave everything out on the court."

Eastland managed to outrebound Mooseheart by one. Schaney capped off his brave effort by taking a dive into media row for a rebound with 25 seconds left in the game. 

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