In a game that was not going to have an affect on who was going to play in the Championship event on Saturday night, the Comets shot out of the gate to take an early lead. That lead included several fouls on a few key Norsemen players that would end up haunting them at the end of the game.
After one quarter, the fast paced team of Reed Custer wasn't able to hold their lead, as Newark kept chipping away to end up with a 24-21 lead.
The second quarter was more of the same, with Reed Custer pressing every play and forcing Newark to make several uncharacteristic decisions. Newark continued adding to their foul tallies too, causing two of the seven players to spend more time on the bench then JV Head Coach, Jon Avery, wanted. As the halftime horn sounded, Newark enjoyed a five point lead (48-43).
Newark, notorious for coming out of the locker room for strong third quarters, wasn't able to bring it out this evening. Newark was outscored 14-5 in the third, allowing the Comets to take a four point lead heading into the final stanza.
That is when senior, Dylan Patrick, took over the game, leading the way to a game-best 30 points. However, midway through that last quarter, Connor Swanson (Jr) picked up his fifth foul. Then, Corey Jacobson (Jr), Jacob Slivka (Jr), and Patrick all picked up their fourth foul.
With a three point lead (73-70) and 1:27 left on the clock, the Norsemen, who were in the double-bonus, put the ball once again into the Captain's hands. As Dylan drove the ball over the timeline, picked up by three players from Reed Custer, the opposite side referee blew his whistle and called a player control foul on the senior. It was Dylan's fifth foul and he would have to watch the rest of the game from the bench with Swanson. You might want to make the call yourself: Click here
After a few fouls, and five points later, the Norsemen trailed 75-73 with 14.4 seconds on the clock. After two times of bringing the ball in bounds, the Newark team moved the ball around the arc to find Corey Jacobson open in the left corner. Jacobson let the ball fly as the clock dwindled down. The shot was long and many thought that was the game, but Slivka somehow grabbed the ball with one hand to gain the offensive rebound, and put the ball right back up as the buzzer sounded. As he was shooting the shot, he was fouled by a Reed Custer player.
With 0.0 showing on the scoreboard, Jacob Slivka stood at his charity stripe all by himself. All eyes on the junior, with one side of the gym hoping and praying, including a pair of grandparents, and the other side hoping against luck. Slivka took a couple of natural dribbles, and like a veteran varsity player would do, he sunk the first bucket (75-74 in favor of Reed Custer). As the referee tossed the ball to Jacob the second time, you could hear a pin drop at Seneca High School. In the broadcast booth, all three of us (Tom Ness, Matt Toftoy, and myself) were as nervous as could be. Slivka dribble twice, shot the ball up...and it rimmed out. One side celebrated, the other side gasped. The two seniors for Newark immediately ran out to the junior and picked him up to offer up encouragement.
In the end, the Norsemen committed 31 turnovers.
Newark will play the winner of Seneca vs Illiana Christian tomorrow at 7:30 PM for the Championship game. This is Newark's second appearance in the championship game in as many years. Newark has only been in this tournament two years.
The Newark JV team will also play for the championship tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 PM in Seneca. They will be playing Illiana Christian. You can watch today's JV semifinal game 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