STOCKTON – Underdogs pull off upsets for a variety of reasons, be it hot shooting, lock-down defense or catching a few breaks throughout a game.
Reigning Class 1A runner-up Stockton made sure Newman never had a chance to shock the Blackhawks in the 1A Stockton Regional championship Friday night.
Stockton held off a series of small runs by the Comets, then pulled away late in a 60-32 victory on their home floor.
Newman (18-12) was severely hindered by its shooting from all spots on the court. The Comets shot just 22 percent (11-for-51) from the field, 44 percent (11-for-25) from the free-throw line, and went 0-for-9 from 3-point range.
“You can’t miss free throws. Those would have helped us stay close,” Newman coach Joe Salvatori said. “And for us to stop their fast break, we had to score.
“Stockton is a really good team, and I think they’ll go to state again.”
Newman trailed 27-17 at halftime. Jenna Johnson swiped a steal and threw a perfect pass ahead to Savannah Skinner for a layup to start the second half.
Johnson and Chloe Klein each hit a free-throw jumper to cut the Comets’ deficit to 29-23.
“It started with our rebounding. We weren’t getting it done there,” Stockton coach Tim Timpe said. “I switched defenses to a trapping zone, and that helped us get back into it. Our defense leads to our offense. If we play lazy and don’t rebound, we’ll struggle, and that’s what we did to start the third quarter.”
Stockton (26-4) answered back, as Elizabeth Eisfeller drove the baseline for a layup, and Tiana Timpe connected on a pair of free throws to put the Blackhawks up by double digits.
The Comets trimmed their deficit to seven (33-26), but Stockton ended the third on an 11-0 run. Tiana Timpe drilled a 3, and dished a pass inside to Cierra Mapes for a layup. Mapes then drove the lane and passed out to Katie Wright for 3 from the top of the key. Eisfeller ended the run by going 3-for-4 from the free-throw line to make it 44-26.
Newman led 7-3 early in the first quarter after a pair of free throws by Madison Craft. Then the Blackhawks turned up the pressure, which led to seven first-quarter turnovers by the Comets. Tiana Timpe’s corner 3 gave Stockton a 10-7 lead with 2 minutes left in the first.
A steal and layup by Wright and a long 3 by Tiana Timpe put Stockton up 15-9 after one.
Newman cut it to 15-11 early in the second, but the Blackhawks staved off any sort of lead change. Tiana Timpe shook free for a 3, and Eisfeller made a layup through heavy traffic to make it 20-11.
Stockton’s lead dwindled to 20-16 after turning the ball over on four straight possessions, but again the Blackhawks got back on course. Eisfeller made a pair of free throws and a transition layup, and Wright canned a 3 from the top of the key right before halftime.
The Blackhawks finished an efficient 47 percent (22-for-47) from the field and 37 percent (7-for-19) from 3-point range. Tiana Timpe led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds despite being face-guarded for more than half of the game.
“It’s very frustrating,” Tiana Timpe said. “But as long as my teammates are doing fine, I’m OK with it. It’s definitely about staying patient.”
Eisfeller added 16 points, Wright chipped in 11 points, and both guards finished with four rebounds, three assists and two steals apiece.
Nine different Comets scored. Josie Rank had eight points and six rebounds, Macaire Brown had six points, Johnson and Alejandra Padilla each added four, Craft had three, Klein, Skinner and Joselyn Reed each had two, and Kiley Sanders split a pair of free throws.
1A Stockton Regional championship
Stockton 60, Newman 32
Star of the game: Tiana Timpe, Stockton, 18 points, 4 3-pointers, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
Key performers: Elizabeth Eisfeller, Stockton, 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals; Katie Wright, Stockton, 11 points, 3 3-pointers, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals; Josie Rank, Newman, 8 points, 6 rebounds