After losing a tough battle against the Comets of Reed Custer the night before, Rick Tollefson and his Norsemen squad wanted to take out their frustrations on the Vikings of Illiana Christian in the repeat Championship matchup from the 2016-17 season. In that game, Newark was victorious in their first appearance at the Seneca Thanksgiving tournament, beating the Vikings 55-45. Now, in their second year, the Norsemen were going to be put to the test.
The game was a seesaw battle, with the Norsemen coming out very cold on the offensive side of the court. Newark only managed to score 6 total points in the first quarter, with Dylan Patrick (Sr) scoring four of them. The Vikings more than doubled the Norsemen to take an early game lead, 14-6.
The Norsemen dug in and fought their way back, grabbing a decent amount of offensive rebounds throughout the half, scoring 16 total points in the second quarter, ending the half with 22 versus Illiana's 24. "I thought that we had a lot to work on after the first half, especially with our layups, but Coach T. encouraged us to keep taking it to the hole," commented Patrick who was averaging 26.7 points prior to tonight's championship game.
As the third quarter got under way, it was more of the same as the Vikings and Norsemen just exchanged baskets back and forth. Occasionally, the Vikings would take a six point lead and the Norsemen would fight their way back to pull within two. The Vikings eventually pulled ahead eight when the Norsemen, with a significant amount of grit, fought their way back. With a score of 36-28 and about a minute left in third, Jacob Slivka (Jr) finally connected on a long three pointer from the corner. Then, with the clock ticking down to zero, Corey Jacobson (Jr) skipped the ball to the other corner where he found junior sharp shooter, Brett Myer, with a tiny bit of daylight. Myre caught the ball and fired as the buzzer sounded. "BAM," shouted the broadcast booth, as the ball saw nothing but net. Myre's shot pulled the Norsemen within four at the end of three quarters (38-34). When asked about that big three that really caused a momentum shift, Myre said, "I finally broke my cold streak with [that] three at the end of the third quarter..."
As the final stanza got under way, the Vikings ended up extending their lead to eight a few different times. With 3:33 showing on the clock, Myre drove through the heart of the defense to finish a nice left-handed layup to pull within four again. After a good stop by the Norsemen, Slivka, who ended up with 11 points on the night, had a nifty move driving on the right side of the lane, doing a fake pass to the outside and putting in a layup to close the gap to two points. Coming down on the defensive end, Patrick sprinted into the lane to intercept a pass from the Vikings to secure another one of his five steals in the game. The Newark team wasn't able to capitalize on the steal and Vikings came right back and scored on a tremendous drive by one of their All-Tournament players. In the play though, the Viking was injured, but play continued as the ball was quickly inbounded to Connor Swanson (Jr) and he threw a Dwyane Wade style pass to a running Slikva who took one dribble and scored on the right side, again, pulling the Norsemen within two. After play continued from the injury timeout, the Vikings simply threw the ball out of bounds to give the rock right back to the Newark Norsemen, who were wearing their away black uniforms. With just over two minutes left in the game, Jacobson drove into the lane, threw the ball to the top of the key to Patrick, who quickly tossed it over to Myre. Myre, who was named to the All-Tournament team, fired from about 22' out and hit absolutely nothing but the bottom of the net to give the Norsemen a one point lead (47-46).
Illiana came out of a timeout and took the ball right to the hoop to score and take the lead right back (48-47). As Newark brought the ball back, Swanson drove down the lane and spun the ball on the left side of the net for a quick layup, again capturing the lead (49-48). As the Vikings took the ball out, with 1:20 left in the game, Patrick anticipated the in-bounds pass and snagged it in the air. He took it to the rim and was fouled shooting two. Patrick hit the first, but missed the second, to finally take a two-point lead that wouldn't be relinquished the rest of the evening. In the ensuing play, Slivka and Patrick double-teamed the Viking point guard and forced a jump ball that had the arrow pointing in the direction of the Norsemen.
With 46.1 seconds on the clock, the Norsemen were celebrating a two-point lead as the Vikings took to the charity stripe for a second time. However, the whistle blew and soon to be named Tournament MVP, Dylan Patrick, was asked to leave the game due to a scratch on his chin. With a little blood coming from the scratch, he wasn't allowed to be on the court. According to the official rules, Patrick had to leave the game and be substituted for unless Tollefson burned a timeout. After the made free-throw by the Vikings, to pull them within one (50-49), Coach did just that...he called a timeout to give another minute for his All Star.
That is when the senior took over and nailed his next six free throws down the stretch. The Norsemen maintained the lead and won the championship against the Vikings of Illiana Christian for the second year in a row, this time with a score of 56-51.
Patrick ended with a game high 24 points, 12 of 14 from the free throw line, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, and 4 assists. Slivka was the only other player in double digits, scoring 11 points, snagging 5 boards, swatting away 2 shots, stealing a pair, and throwing one dime. Myre finished with 8 points, 4 boards, and 2 steals.
Newark is now 3-1 for the season and will take on Leland/Earlville in Leland next Friday night for their first conference matchup.
Game Stats for Newark vs Illiana Christian: Click here
Season Stats for Newark (3-1): Click here
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