Newark wins first IHSA baketball championship

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Newark wins first IHSA baketball championship

Sunday, March 13, 2011
12:15 a.m.

By Steve Tucker
Yourseason.com

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.

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After getting another signature win at Maryland, does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

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USA TODAY

After getting another signature win at Maryland, does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

Does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

The Golden Gophers went on the road and defeated a ranked group of Maryland Terrapins on Wednesday night, and they did so in impressive fashion, scoring an 89-75 victory in College Park.

Team this win with the win at Purdue back on New Year's Day, and there's no better pair of league victories to be found.

More importantly though, the Gophers, at 9-6, are now the No. 4 team in the Big Ten standings.

It's all a part of a quality NCAA tournament resume for the Gophers, who are closer to lock status after Wednesday's win than they are to being on any sort of bubble. With mediocrity running rampant through the Big Ten this season, Richard Pitino's 21-win squad should be well on its way to an appearance in next month's Madness, which would be the program's first since he took over as head coach.

The resume looks pretty strong at this point, especially after Wednesday. Minnesota can now claim wins over Purdue, Maryland and Northwestern — all three of those conference victories coming on the road. In the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Gophers beat Arkansas, the Razorbacks seemingly heading to the tournament themselves. The only loss from the non-conference portion came on the road at Florida State, one of the highest-ranked teams in the country.

So it's safe to say Minnesota will go dancing.

Wednesday's 14-point beatdown of the Terps saw the Gophers shoot 50 percent from the field on the night and 54.5 percent from the field in the second half. Five players scored in double figures: Dupree McBrayer with 18, Nate Mason with 17, Akeem Springs with 16, Jordan Murphy with 15 and Amir Coffey with 13. Minnesota didn't win the rebounding battle but scored 15 points off 10 Maryland turnovers and marched to the free-throw line, going 17-for-20 from the charity stripe while Maryland was just 8-for-13 there.

The second half was a rout, the Gophers outscoring the Terps 55-40 over the final 20 minutes and rattling off two separate 9-0 runs to burst away from the No. 24 team in the country.

The overtime win at Purdue on the first day of 2017 might go down as a bigger win considering the Boilermakers are closing in on the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. That win, too, came by an impressive-enough margin, 91-82. But Minnesota dominated Maryland over the final nine minutes or so and turned in a double-digit victory on the road against a team that lost to that same Purdue team on that same court by just a point two and a half weeks ago.

The Gophers are now on a six-game winning streak and are piling up wins in a fashion that's making them look like one of the Big Ten's finest. A 3-1 start to conference play that extended its overall record to 15-2 was dampened by Minnesota's five-game losing streak that featured losses to higher-echelon teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin and Maryland, plus road losses at Penn State and Ohio State. But since have come six straight wins. While the caliber of opponent hadn't been terribly impressive until Wednesday, the Gophers can now boast nine conference wins. Only three teams have more.

It's now worth watching how high Minnesota can climb in the Big Ten standings before the conference tournament just two weeks from now. If the season ended today, the Gophers would already be in possession of one of those highly coveted two-day byes. But Minnesota is just a game back of Maryland and just two games back of Wisconsin, who the Gophers play in the regular-season finale.

Like Pitino told his team after Wednesday's win: "No more talk about (just making) the NCAA tournament. We're talking about seeds in the NCAA tournament."