STERLING – Cade Gorzny’s coast-to-coast path, weaving through the Alleman defense, led to a game-winning basket in the final second, and led Newman to a 72-69 win over Alleman to claim the Newman Christmas Classic title on Tuesday night.
With 5.6 seconds left in a tie game, Gorzny took an inbounds pass near the free-throw line, dribbled up the right sideline around one Alleman player, drove straight for the basket toward several others, and scooped the ball in, drawing a foul, with less than a second left. He turned that into a game-winning three-point play.
“Before each game, we run through our plays,” Gorzny said. “[Newman coach Ray Sharp] said it might come to that. We just had to execute our play, and we did.”
Alleman’s Gaurav Patwal had one last chance, catching an inbounds pass with .7 seconds left and launching a shot from 65 feet, but it never got near the basket.
Gorzny’s late three-point play capped off a wild final 2 minutes that saw a six-point Comets lead disappear entirely. Newman (12-2) led 61-55 after a Devon House basket in the paint, but Alleman answered with a jumper from Will Mihm, followed by a steal and layup by Patwal to cut the lead to 61-59.
After Brycen Bartel hit a layup, Alleman turned up the press, and Brendan Hird and Saurabh Patwal got back-to-back steals that led to layups, putting Alleman up 64-63 with 1:31 left.
“We just felt like if we could get Newman sped up a little bit and have some trap opportunities, they might make some mistakes,” Alleman coach Kyle Murray said. “When they did, we were able to capitalize off of that.”
The teams traded free throws and the lead before House hit another basket in the paint to again put Newman ahead, 67-66 with 34.1 seconds left.
Alleman had a golden opportunity to re-take the lead on its next possession, as both Hird and Gaurav Patwal had shots, but neither fell.
Gorzny hit a pair of free throws to put the Comets ahead 69-66 with 14.1 seconds left before Alleman pushed the ball back down court, finding Saurabh Patwal in the left corner. He was fouled while shooting, and knocked down all three of his free throws to tie the game.
“We competed really hard at the end, and got some stops and executed on the offensive end at the end of the game,” Sharp said. “To close a game out against a quality team and get the win was really progress for us.”
House was in control in the first 8 minutes and the final 8 minutes, scoring eight points in the first and fourth quarters. He finished with 21 points and five rebounds.
“He was a guy we really didn’t have an answer for,” Murray said. “We tried multiple guys on him. We tried fronting him. He just kind of had his way.”
Bartel added 18 points, shooting 8-for-11 from the field.
As a team, Newman shot 20-for-29 (69 percent) from 2-point range in the game, hitting its final six shots from the field.
Alleman (10-5) shot 23-for-54 from the field and 7-for-23 from 3-point range. That 43 percent shooting came in spite of a cold streak lasting most of the second quarter. After Saurabh Patwal hit a 3-pointer early in the quarter to tie the game 16-16, the Pioneers missed their next eight shots from the field and managed only two free throws the rest of the half.
Meanwhile, Newman went on a 12-0 run. With the score tied 18-18, the Comets scored on their next four possessions. Gorzny hit a 3-pointer, Travis Williams hit a basket in the paint, Bartel put back a missed 3, and Williams hit another shot in the paint. Bartel later closed out the half with a 3-pointer to put the Comets ahead 30-18.
“We were moving the ball pretty good. We were getting open shots,” House said. “We were playing really good defense. We held them to 18 points in one half.”
Alleman chipped away at the lead throughout the third quarter and got as close as two points, down 44-42, but Murray still saw the second-quarter run as a key stretch for Newman.
“We kind of let it slip a little too far in the first half, and then we had to expend a lot of energy to get back into the game,” Murray said. “You point to a 12-0 run in the second quarter, that was kind of the difference in the game. From there, we were always playing catch-up. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing a better job of stopping those runs so we can stay in the game earlier.”
Newman Christmas Classic
Newman 72, Alleman 69
Star of the game: Cade Gorzny, Newman, 14 points, three-point play with .7 seconds left.
Key performers: Devon House, Newman, 21 points; Saurabh Patwal, Alleman, 21 points; Gaurav Patwal, Alleman, 18 points; Brycen Bartel, Newman, 18 points
Up next: Prophetstown at Newman, 7 p.m. Friday