STERLING – A style of play based on speed doesn’t always have to be pretty or particularly dominant to earn victories.
Sometimes, spreading a lead out gradually instead of in a flurry in December can mean a team is diverse enough to win come March. At least that’s what Newman hopes.
The Comets had a few spurts, but largely handled West Carroll in a methodical manner in a 67-50 victory at the Newman Christmas Classic on Thursday night.
“They’re just a very good team. They don’t get shaken at all,” West Carroll coach Stephen Rudnicki said of the Comets. “That’s a team we want to be able to beat. We’re still grinding, and hopefully we can continue to make things more competitive moving forward.”
Newman (11-2) used a 13-2 run spread over the final 5 minutes of the first quarter to build a 19-8 advantage. Devon House scored eight points and Gehrig Koerner knocked down three 3-pointers in the quarter. While Cade Gorzny was held to just five points in the game, the other senior in the backcourt happily stepped up.
“Last night, I didn’t have a very good night. I was 0-for-5,” Koerner said. “I really took some preparation time to make sure I could knock down the 3 again. Cade Gorzny shared the ball well pretty well with me. We notice when people are on or off.”
Kaleb Plattenberger drilled a 3 from the left wing to cut Newman’s lead to 26-17 halfway through the second quarter, but Brycen Bartel
nailed a 3 of his own from the right wing just
4 seconds later, as the Comets took a 32-18 lead into halftime.
West Carroll (6-7) cut its deficit to 10 (37-27) with 5:38 left in the third, on a Dawson Wurster layup. Newman coach Ray Sharp never called timeout, but did opt for a change in personnel to stop the Thunder’s momentum.
“I think defensively, we didn’t play well at times,” Sharp said. “They had nine points in the first 2½ minutes, so I took the first group out. Then they only had two points the rest of the quarter. It’s good that we can go to the bench if the starters aren’t getting it done.”
While the Comet reserves held West Carroll in check on the defensive end, it also provided a spark offensively.
Jake Terveer made a jumper and a layup on consecutive possessions, and House drove hard to the hoop for a layup to make it 49-29 Newman after three quarters, a big enough lead to put it on cruise control in the fourth.
The Comets shot an even 50 percent (25-for-50) from the field, and were led by the 6-foot-7 House. The sophomore finished with a game-high 23 points, displaying a keen sense for when to use his size advantage to shoot over defenders, or kick it out to open shooters.
“Everybody is overwhelming you with double-teams and triple-teams, so you have to know how to play against it,” House said. “Pass it out if they double and play an inside-out game, or I might go up with it.”
House also had team highs with seven rebounds and three steals. He added three assists and a block as well.
“It’s nice to be an all-around player that can shoot, rebound and pass,” House said. “Being unselfish is cool, because nobody thinks you’re a ball hog out there.”
Travis Williams chipped in 12 points, four rebounds and two steals, while Koerner made a layup to get into double figures with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting. Bartel and Terveer pitched in eight points apiece for the Comets.
Ryan Gengenbach led the Thunder with 11 points, as well as five rebounds and a pair of assists. Jakob Foltz hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for his nine points, Wurster scored 10 and pulled down seven rebounds, and Jacob Dunk had eight points, three boards and two blocks.
For only shooting 33 percent (17-for-52) from the field, the Thunder hung in well against a Newman team that already has a handful of blowout wins under its belt this season.
“I don’t think the final score dictates how hard we competed,” Rudnicki said. “We can learn a lot from that. We had shots, we just did not shoot the ball well.”
Newman Christmas Classic
Newman 67, West Carroll 50
Star of the game: Devon House, Newman, 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 blocks
Key performers: Travis Williams, Newman, 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals; Gehrig Koerner, Newman, 11 points, 4-for-4 shooting, 3 3-pointers, Ryan Gengenbach, West Carroll, 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
Up next: Newman Christmas Classic – West Carroll vs. Christian Life, 6 p.m. & Newman vs. Alleman, 7:30 p.m., both today