Early in the season, first-year Newark girls basketball coach Brian Holman knew that his young team wouldn’t have been able to win a game like the one they played at Hinckley-Big Rock Friday.
Down by seven late in a critical Little 10 showdown, the Lady Norsemen showed how much progress they’ve made this season by rallying for a 39-34 win.
Newark (11-5, 5-0) closed the game on a 15-3 run to erase a 31-24 deficit and take control of the Little 10.
“A game like this, at the beginning of the season, we would have lost because we weren’t able to adjust enough,” Holman said. “Now, we’re a much better team, much more diverse. We can stay with it and we’ll find something that works, and we did.”
This time around, Holman went to a speedy lineup that has the ability to press and get his team back into the game. Kristine Zitt’s steal and three-point play started the game-ending 15-3 rally. She also had two rebound put-backs in the run, the second of which tied the game at 34-34.
“Our team started to rally together and we started to get some steals and put-backs going, so that was good for us,” Zitt said. “Once we got our momentum going, it was like nothing was going to put us down at that point.”
Two free throws from Kelsea Zitt gave Newark its first lead with 1:47 left in the game, 36-34.
“This was a critical game,” HB-R coach Greg Burks said. “Everybody knew that coming in. This was a big conference game. We would have liked to have had it. We had a lot of things going for us a lot of the way. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.”
Lauren Paver led all scorers for the Royals with 17 points. Anne Klein grabbed 10 rebounds for Hinckley (7-9, 3-1).
Kristine Zitt led the Lady Norsemen with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Jasmine Mitchell scored 10 points in the win.
After trailing for the first 30:13 of the game, Holman was happy to escape with the win. Newark has beaten two of the Little 10’s top teams, Hinckley and Serena, early, with a big test against Indian Creek looming Saturday, Jan. 11.
“I kept telling my assistant, all we need to do is get the lead and we’ll start feeling it,” Holman said. “It’s tough when you go through a whole game like that and you’re always chasing, but they did a good job. You have to give Hinckley credit. It’s really hard to play a team that knows everything you’re going to run. You just have to do your own things and methodically pick it apart and we did that.”