STERLING – Now that Christmas is in the rearview mirror, it’s time for Newman and Paw Paw to learn a great deal about basketball.
Both the Comets and Bulldogs played two games Wednesday in the first day of the Newman Christmas Classic, and played each other in the nightcap. Newman’s starters established firm control of the game early, leaving the Comets bench players to go toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs starters in a 77-37 win.
Newman coach Ray Sharp made a line change with his Comets up 17-1 with 3:56 left in the first quarter. Out came Brycen Bartel, Cade Gorzny, Devon House, Gehrig Koerner and Travis Williams; in came Ethan Behrens, Drake Farster, Julian Heald, Connor McBride and Jake Terveer.
McBride and Terveer soaked up plenty of playing time, and both led the Comets (10-2) with 13 points.
“The Forreston Tournament [last week] was a real tough tournament, and it was nice to get all of the players out here and see all of us play all-out,” Terveer said. “It’s great seeing different players score and make great plays. It’s a lot of team bonding. It feels great to cheer on each other.”
“We’ve been practicing pretty hard,” McBride added. “In practice, obviously it’s not the same as in a game, but going on the court is a lot better than practicing hard with your teammates. The game just has a different intensity to it than practice.”
Terveer made a 2-pointer and a 3-pointer in the first quarter, while McBride hit a 2 and put back his own rebound for another 2 to help give the Comets a 30-3 edge after the first 8 minutes.
Paw Paw (2-7) did not make a field goal until Rob Hill’s inside jumper at the 3:11 mark. That was the only one of 11 shot attempts made by the Bulldogs in the first quarter.
In the first game of the tournament, Paw Paw fell to Rockford Christian Life 56-50. Most of the Bulldogs’ starters in that game ate up plenty of minutes in the nightcap.
“The kids have to have the expectation and anticipation of a big game,” Paw Paw coach Dave Glenn said. “We’re not there yet. We’re still young, still maturing, and learning how to play the game, and how the game is being played.”
Newman led 47-19 at halftime, and both teams played the second half under a mercy-rule running clock. Terveer put in plenty of work down low for the Comets in the third quarter, pulling down four offensive rebounds and making trips to the free-throw line three times on Paw Paw reaching fouls.
Terveer fell just one rebound shy of a double-double.
“That would have been great,” Terveer said. “Everyone’s pushing me in practice, and we’re all pushing on each other. It’s getting better, and hopefully we can peak at the end of the season.”
McBride made four buckets in the fourth quarter, and the first came off a steal at midcourt just 48 seconds into the quarter. Farster was also close to a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. Bartel rotated in and out throughout the second half and finished with 12 points.
“I thought we were really unselfish with the ball, and made some great passes,” Sharp said. “Even though they got in there, they didn’t try to do too much themselves, and were moving the ball around to find the open guy.”
“Coach [Sharp] really stresses everyone working hard, playing hard, not turning the ball over,” McBride said, “so it’s just expected out of us to go out there and perform after the starters.”
Brandon Heiman led the Bulldogs with 16 points, and Glenn hopes his kids can learn a lot from just playing the Comets.
“The way that these kids played is the way I want us to play,” Glenn said, referring to Newman. “I put lot of emphasis on drills, and I told the kids [after the game] that if we can execute our drills properly, this is how we can look. You don’t get to play this way just by walking out on the floor; it’s execution and practicing to make things perfect.
“It’s a great experience, but a hard learning experience.”
Newman 77, Paw Paw 37
Star of the game: Jake Terveer, Newman, 13 points, 9 rebounds
Key performers: Connor McBride, Newman, 13 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds; Brycen Bartel, Newman, 12 points, Brandon Heiman, Paw Paw, 16 points.
Up next: Newman Christmas Classic – Paw Paw vs. West Carroll, 4:30 today; West Carroll vs. Newman, 7:30 today