Sunday, March 13, 2011
By Steve Tucker
PEORIA If Newarks John Avery had any nerves heading into the Class 1A title game, you wouldnt have known it by his performance.
Avery had a perfect start, making his first five shots for the Norsemen, who built a 15-point lead in the first half and went on to defeat West Central Co-op 57-35 for the Class 1A championship game Saturday at Carver Arena.
Down 5-4 early, Newark (33-1) took control with an 8-0 sport and closed the first quarter with a 6-2 burst, with Avery, who made his first five shots and was 5-for-6 in the first half, scoring all six points to go up 18-9 after one quarter.
John is this teams unsung hero, Newark coach Rick Tollefson said. For my money he is an all-stater, even though he wasnt on the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association team that was announced. There are not better players in Classes 1A and 2A.
I got off to a good start because my teammates got me the ball inside, Avery said. I knew if we played the way we can play, we could do this. Weve had enough to get here since I was a sophomore, but this season, we had better chemistry and we all blended well together.
Leading 22-12 in the second quarter, Newark used a 7-2 spurt, with five points from Jeremy Anderson, to go up 29-14 before West Central, got a three-pointer from Wes Buhlig that made it 29-17 at the break.
Avery finished with 17 points and four blocks, Brett Anderson had 12, Kyle Anderson 11 and nine assists, and Jeremy Anderson 10. Buhlig scored 13 for West Central.
Were a great team and we showed it, Kyle Anderson said. We help each other out. Losing in the supersectional for two years in a row was one of the toughest feelings imaginable.
The third quarter ended all doubt as Newark outscored the Cougars 16-4 including a 12-0 tear to end the quarter. Newark was 8-for-8 from the line, led by Jeremy Anderson, who was 6-for-6. This is the first state title for Newark, which opened in the 1930's.
West Central (31-5), a coop of Winchester and Bluffs, was trying to become the first school since Marshall in 2008 to wins girls and boys state basketball titles the same year. Its girls teams beat River-Ridge-Scales Mound Coop two weeks ago to win the Class 1A girls title.
Woodlawn (30-4) got 19 points and nine rebounds from Dawson Verhines in a 52-37 victory over Deer Creek-Mackinaw for third place.