Friday, December 30, 2016
Newton North Boys Hoops Hangs on Against Catholic Memorial
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)
For Newton North coach Paul Connolly, the final 18 seconds of Thursday night's game felt like 18 years.
Leading 76-74 with 18 seconds to play, Connolly saw Catholic Memorial get off four different attempts from the field, including a last second three-point attempt at the top of the key from Knights star Ulyen Coleman (45 points).
All four shots, however, fell short, with Coleman’s final three hitting the front of the rim as the Tigers held on for a 76-74 win in the final of the Garden City Classic at Newton North High school.
It is quite a turnaround for Newton North who, just six quarters ago, was staring at a 16-point deficit against Newton South.
Since that point, however, the Tigers (3-1) have overcome that same deficit, coming from behind to defeat the Lions 64-53, before knocking off the three time defending South Sectional champs in Catholic Memorial (4-1).
Connolly said the growth from his young team in just a matter of weeks has been a sight to behold.
“You see it in practice the drastic improvements these kids have made,” said Connolly. “Ethan was obviously spectacular tonight, but Chris Matthews hit some huge shots, and Noah Neville did a pretty good job breaking their press.”
Early on in the fourth quarter it seemed as though Newton North was going to waltz to a crucial home win.
The Knights, as their known for, however, came right at the Tigers for a full 32 minutes.
Down 74-61 following a Wright mid range jump shot, Will McDonell came back the other way with a driving layup to begin the Knights furious comeback.
After an offensive foul gave the Knights the ball back, Coleman put home a layup, and followed it up with an elbow jumper to bring Catholic Memorial within 74-68.
A Wright jump shot pushed the Tigers advantage back up to eight points, but Coleman came right back scoring four in a row to cut the Tigers advantage to just four at 76-72.
On the ensuing possession, Chris Matthews missed a three pointer allowing Catholic Memorial to run the floor. Waiting underneath the basket was Kani Glover who received the outlet pass and went right up for an and-one basket to make it 76-74.
Glover missed the free throw, and Wright was fouled looking to ice the game.
Usually a sure bet from the free throw line Wright seemed destined to put the game away.
Stunningly, though, Wright missed both free throws giving Catholic Memorial another chance to the tie game in its waning moments.
McDonell missed a deep three pointer, but the ball went off Newton North to keep it with the Knights underneath the basket with 18 seconds to play.
Another McDonell three point attempt missed wide, and a Glover long range shot fell short as well.
Tigers point guard Noah Neville corralled the rebound and was immediately fouled.
Neville missed the front end of the one-and-one, though, allowing Catholic Memorial to have one last shot in transition.
As the seconds ticked down to zero, Coleman’s last ditch shot from the top of the key hit off the front of the rim handing Newton North their first signature win of the year.
“This is such a big win for all of us,” said Wright. “We have some young guys, but guys like Chris (Matthews) played great. He is our second best scorer and he played huge. But to win in an environment like this is a huge confidence boost moving forward.
Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin said an early season loss has the opportunity to be beneficial.
“I think this loss could end up being the best thing for us,” said Tobin. “Early on I think some of our inexperience showed, but in that fourth quarter we refused to go away. Ulyen (Coleman) just did it all, and that is what we need him to do.”
The battle between Coleman and Newton North junior sensation Ethan Wright (42 points) was fitting of a one-on-one game in the park. The two went back and forth throughout the evening in an effort to keep their respective teams in the game.
In the early going it was Wright and the Tigers who had the clear advantage.
Eight first quarter points from the shooting guard – to go along with nine from Matthews – helped give Newton North a 23-14 edge after one quarter.
To combat the Knights well known full court pressure, the Tigers countered with a 2-2-1 press of their own.
In the early going the press clearly impacted the Knights inexperienced guards as Newton North’s defense forced eight turnovers.
The Tigers stretched their lead up 14 points late in the second quarter, but a three pointer as time expired from Coleman pulled Catholic Memorial within 40-30 heading into the half.
Newton North maintained a nine-point lead early in the third quarter, 48-39, when the Knights finally showed signs of life.
McDonnell drilled a three, and then off a turnover via press Mike Giaccobe tapped in a layup to make it 48-44.
Moments later, with Newton North now on top 50-44, McDonnell hit an and-one, fall away three to make it a 50-48 game and complete a 10-2 Knights run.
Newton North was able to get a bit breathing room going into the fourth quarter.
Matthews swished consecutive three pointers to go along with two layups over the final minute to hand the Tigers a 66-55 after three setting the stage for the final frame’s dramatics.