NEWARK — There are several ways that a basketball team can battle an opponent with superior size, and to quell Newark coach Barb Scott's fear that a tall Earlville-Leland squad could burn her Lady Norsemen inside, she chose to throw water on the matches and not let that fire get started in the first place.
In an early meeting of undefeated clubs, Scott's Lady Norsemen used their quickness and aggressive defense to pressure the Lady Raiders guards on the perimeter and keep the ball from going into the lane. Their effort out there resulted in 33 E-L turnovers and a plethora of steal-and-layup opportunities for the hosts, leading to their 54-37, Little Ten Conference win here on Monday night.
Meggie Scott scored a game-best 17 points, eight of those coming on midcourt steals turned into breakaway layups, and finished with seven steals. Freshman post Madi Malone added her season-best 14 points to lead Newark to victory in its LTC opener and sixth win in as many tries so far.
For the young Lady Raiders, who fall to 4-1 and 0-1 this year, Emily Cook popped in 14 points and snared 10 rebounds, and Taylor Weymouth chipped in 11 points.
However, that wasn't nearly enough to overcome the passel of miscues forced by Newark in the open court.
"Our defense was the key tonight, by far," said Coach Scott. "That's kind of been our go-to thing these first six games, and everybody's owning their position, everybody's doing their job, and it's working for us. ... (E-L) is big, they have so much size inside and we hoped that our guard play and our speed would counteract some of that, and it sure did. We need to keep working on our rebounding, and later tonight we started doing a little better job of that in there, but I think we frustrated them a little bit outside.
"Meggie had a nice game, and Madi Malone really stepped it up for us tonight. She's been rebounding real well, but it's nice to see her put some points on the board, too. ... This was a team effort through and through, and I'm thrilled with where we're at right now."
The Lady Raiders, with experienced 5-9 senior Emily Cook and 6-foot tall sophomore twins Kylie and Alex Koontz the main threats in the paint, didn't get the chance to do much damage, even at the outset. Newark, which pestered E-L into 12 turnovers in the quarter, used that manic style to a 5-5 tie with four minutes gone to go on a 14-0 run over the next three minutes. That included steals and layups by Scott and freshman Brooke Kala as well as five second-chance points by Evie Martin in the lane.
Newark's pace and shooting cooled off a little in the second period, but it extended the lead to 33-18 in the third before the Lady Raiders awoke. A 13-4 burst capped by a banked 3-pointer from the key by Weymouth that cut their deficit to just six, 37-31 with 7 minutes, 5 seconds showing in the final quarter.
However, NHS remained cool and knifed its way through the E-L press for seven of the next nine points. A 6-of-7 quarter from the field helped the home team pull away down the stretch.
"We have a young team, we made a lot of mistakes, and we need to make adjustments and fix them," said E-L coach Wayne Koontz. "I knew that was going to be an issue this year, but I was hoping we'd stay calm and handle it, but where I saw the openings, the girls didn't. Hopefully we can learn from this and next time make it a tighter game. ...
"Newark plays smart defense and they were calm on offense. We just couldn't rattle them with our defense. I would have liked to have seen a little more smart pressure defense out of my team. We had it at times, we just couldn't sustain it."
Newark 54, Earlville-Leland 37
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
E-L (37) — Cook 5-6 4-6 14, A. Koontz 0-3 0-0 0, K. Koontz 1-3 1-2 3, Niles 1-3 2-6 4, Pickert 1-2 0-0 2, Weymouth 3-11 4-5 11, Meloy 1-4 0-0 3, Myers 0-1 0-0 0, Ray 0-0 0-0 0, Farley 0-0 0-0 0, Hoaglund 0-0 -0 0. Totals 12-33 11-19 37.
NEWARK (54) — Schofield 1-3 2-2 4, Tomsa 0-1 0-1 0, Scott 7-15 2-2 17, Gittens 0-2 0-0 0, Malone 5-7 4-6 14, Martin 3-4 1-2 7, Kala 3-9 2-4 8, Sweeney 0-0 0-0 0, Skelton 0-0 0-0 0, Richards 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-46 11-17 54.
E-L (4-1) 9 5 12 11 — 37
Newark (6-0) 19 8 10 17 — 54
3-point goals — E-L 2-11 (Meloy 1-3, Weymouth 1-6, Niles 0-1, A. Koontz 0-1), Newark 1-8 (Scott 1-4, Tomsa 0-1, Kala 0-1, Scofield 0-2). Rebounds — E-L 25 (Cook 10), Newark 25 (Gittens 6). Turnovers — E-L 33, Newark 18. Total fouls (fouled out) — E-L 14 (A. Koontz), Newark 15.
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