MORRISON, Ill. — On Friday night, Fulton simply ran into a team that was better on that night.
The Steamers (21-9) ended their season in a 67-54 loss against Sterling Newman in the Class 2A Morrison Regional final.
There were chances for the Steamers to make up some ground, but each time they did, the Comets responded with either a stop defensively or a basket of their own.
"They're a great basketball team," Fulton coach RJ Coffey said. "I can't say enough about our guys — I love them; they played with a ton of heart."
Fulton had its focus on one player — Noah McCarty. McCarty stands at 6-foot-7 and used every inch of his height to put his team on top. McCarty scored 11 field goals, nearly all of them in the paint to deliver a 23-point performance.
"It's an excellent feeling coming out and playing the way we did tonight," McCarty said. "We look forward to moving on to the semifinal game, and pushing our way further."
"I thought McCarty played well; he's a good basketball player," Coffey said. "They got some buckets down low, and they were bigger than us."
McCarty complimented Fulton's defense for holding the Comets to 67 points, which is under Newman's season average of about 74 a game.
"They played really aggressive this time out than the other two times," McCarty said. "They had really good help defense against us, but our guards did a really good job of facilitating around it."
One way the Comets pushed past the Steamers was at the free-throw line.
Newman shot 15-of-16 from the free-throw line while Fulton had trouble hitting its free throws with a 5-for-11 performance.
"When you don't win, there are reasons why, and that one was a big reason why," Coffey said. "I don't think we got to the line enough, didn't make them when we did get to the line, but it is what it is."