SENECA — Midway through the opening quarter of the championship game of the 18th annual Seneca Thanksgiving Turkey Tournament here on Saturday night, the Newark Norsemen trailed Illiana Christian 10-4 on the scoreboard and a staggering 10-1 in rebounds on the stat sheet.
Visibly frustrated, Newark coach Rick Tollefson used a timeout to address his club. "I told them in that time out, if we don't start rebounding the basketball this is going to be a 25-point game ... We're goin' to get smoked," he said.
Newark, despite being outrebounded 52-28 in the contest and shooting just 25 percent from the field through three quarters, was able to hang close to the Vikings. It then use a trey from Brett Myre and back-to-back drives from Jacob Slivka to grab the lead and eventually capture its second consecutive championship with a 56-51 victory.
"Wow, what a game," said Tollefson. "Illiana Christian isn't real tall, but they are long and they can leap. It just seemed like we were just standing around and not putting bodies on them. We stepped up as the game went along, but we couldn't hit a layup or a 3 for the longest time. I'm very happy with the win. IC is a good team, but sometimes you just have to gut it out."
Newark (3-1) trailed 14-6 after one frame, 24-22 at the intermission, 38-34 after three and even 46-42 with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left to play. Slivka scored two of his 11 points on a layup and after a Vikings turnover, Myre buried a long triple from the right wing to put his club up 47-46 with two minutes left.
"We didn't shoot or rebound well and I don't even know if we made a 3-pointer in the first half," said Myre, who finished with eight points and was named to the all-tournament team. "I've been struggling with my shot, but I was able to knock that one down. I knew the score and situation, but we needed to get the lead."
Illiana Christian (3-1) regained the lead at 48-47 on a Andrew Smits lay-in at 1:49, but Conner Swanson answered with a twisting layup just 26 seconds later and the tournament's most valuable player, senior Dylan Patrick, made good on seven-of-eight free throws in the final minute, including both ends of a trio of one-and-bonus chances, to secure the Norsemen triumph.
"It is obliviously a great honor, but it is nothing I could have accomplished without the help of my teammates, for sure," said Patrick, who netted a game-high 24 points on 6-of-19 shooting to finish with 104 points in the tournament, adding six steals in the finale. "Coach Tollefson always talks about doing the little things like getting deflections, hands in passing lanes and looking for steals. Tonight the offensive end was a struggle for me, so I was just trying to use defensive effort to create offense and get to the foul line."
The Vikings were paced by Smits' 16 points, while Colin Flipse added 10 points and Josh Harris snared a game-best 20 rebounds, 10 of them on each end.
"Josh Harris was huge rebounding the ball for us tonight. We just need to give him some help with that, but I can't fault our effort," said IC coach Grant Sikkema, his team falling to Newark in the title game last year as well. "We want to play fast, but we have to play under control and that is something we are not very good at yet, but we'll get better. We missed too many puppies as well.
"(Patrick) is a tough player and just caused us so many issues, but when we tried to account for him, one of their other players stepped up with a huge play or shot. When the lights are bright, great players step into it and he did that tonight."
At Seneca Thanksgiving Turkey Tourney
Newark 56, Illiana Christian 51
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
NEWARK (56) -- Patrick 6-19 12-14 24, Jacobson 2-14 1-2 5, Myre 3-7 0-0 8, Swanson 1-5 1-2 3, Brown 2-5 1-3 5, Slivka 5-10 0-0 11, Pepino 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-61 15-21 56.
ILLIANA CHRISTIAN (51) -- Flipse 4-17 1-2 10, Smit 1-5 0-0 2, Smits 7-13 0-0 16, Chandler 1-6 5-6 7, Harris 3-10 0-0 6, Eenigenburg 3-4 0-0 6, Roundtree 0-0 0-0 0, DeJong 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-58 6-8 51.
Newark (3-1) 6 16 12 22 — 56
Illiana Christian (3-1) 14 10 14 13 — 51
3-point goals — Newark 3-18 (Patrick 0-1, Jacobson 0-6, Myre 2-6, Brown 0-1, Slivka 1-4); Illiana Christian 3-19 (Flipse 1-11, Smit 0-1, Smits 2-5, Chandler 0-2). Rebounds — Newark 28 (Patrick 6, Jacobson 5); Illiana Christian 52 (Harris 20, Smit 8, Flipse 7). Assists — Newark 7 (Patrick 2, Jacobson 2); Illiana Christian 11 (Flipse 7). Steals — Newark 18 (Patrick 6, Swanson 4); Illiana Christian 7 (Flipse 3). Blocks — Newark 2 (Jacobson 1, Slivka 1); Illiana Christian 4 (Harris 3). Turnovers — Newark 15, Illiana Christian 27. Total fouls (fouled out) — Newark 13 (none); Illiana Christian 19 (Smit).
2017 Seneca Thanksgiving Turkey All-Tournament Team
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Newark Opens With a Huge Victory
As the 2016-17 season concluded and some future hall-of-famers ended their careers, not many people knew what to expect for the 2017-18 season. So, the Norsemen went to work in the off-season, with senior captain, Dylan Patrick, leading the way.
When they took the court in Seneca in their opening game of the year against the Trojans of Mendota, the Norsemen couldn't buy a bucket. In fact, their shooting percentage was barely above 15% after the first quarter. However, they kept shooting and they kept banging the boards on both ends, especially on the offensive end.
The Norsemen, after missing their first 15 three-point attempts, starting coming alive when junior Brett Myre caught on fire and the "BAMs" were being shouted from the rooftop at Seneca High School. After hitting two quick ones from downtown, Patrick saw an opportunity to get the junior open. He drove the ball right into the defense on the right side, turned, and got Myre wide open. Brett, who has grown nine inches during his high school career, caught the ball and fired from about 23' out...nothing but the bottom on the net! "I told him that if he shoots like that all year, we are going to be very tough to beat," Patrick commented. "Teams will need to defend us from beyond the arc, and then we can drive the hole."
Newark only had 8 points in the first quarter, but added 24 points in the second to take a 32-19 lead into the halftime locker room. The Norsemen through up an astounding 47 field goal attempts in the first half.
The second half was all Newark as the Norsemen added to their lead to end up with 72 points in the game vs Mendota's 43.
Dylan Patrick was named the SportsClip Player of the Game as he dropped 30 points in the night, hitting 2 from 3 downtown, grabbing 5 offensive boards, tossing 4 dimes, stripping 3 steals, and jumping over the 600 points in a career mark. Brett Myre and Corey Jacobson (Jr) each added 13 points. Myre had 2 blocks, while Jacobson snagged 7 boards and had 3 assists. Jacob Slivka (Jr) was named the Central Limestone Rock Solid Player of the Game for his tremendous efforts on defense, having 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 5 deflections, and 3 steals.
The Norsemen will take on the Hall Red Devils on Wednesday night at 6:00 PM. You can watch the game live on MySportsWire.
Phil Chapman is an avid basketball fan that has served as the voice of the Newark Norsemen over the last three seasons. Phil will be broadcasting the games at the Plano Christmas Classic