The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 11, 2014

Newman boys rally past Fulton

By Chad Seely
For the Herald

FULTON, Ill. — A valiant effort by the Fulton Steamers came up just short in a 58-48 loss to the Sterling Newman Comets on Friday night at Fulton High School.

Ranked No. 4 in the Illinois Class 2A Associated Press poll, the Comets used a 17-point second-half effort from 6-foot-7 sophomore Noah McCarty to remain unbeaten at 15-0.

The Steamers (12-4) raced to a 14-9 lead after the first quarter, thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by senior forward Matt Dail.

“We wanted to push the pace, keep the tempo and play fast early, and we did that,” Steamers coach RJ Coffey said.

Six quick points by Sterling Newman junior guard Trevor Bolin and a free throw by senior forward John Payan knotted the game at 20-20 with 10 seconds to go in the second quarter.

With just seconds remaining before the half, Fulton’s Jake Willging found a wide-open Jason Osborn for a layup and a two-point lead at halftime.

That’s when McCarty and his teammates came to life. A tip-in by McCarty a minute into the third quarter gave the Comets a 24-23 lead, their first lead since 2-0 moments into the game.

“I struggled a bit in the first half, maybe forced it a little,” McCarty said. “In the second half I just felt like I needed to step up to help our team win.”

A bucket by Dail got the lead back for Fulton at 25-24, but that’s the last lead they saw the rest of the way.

Senior guard Jay Sharp drilled a 3-pointer from the wing to put Sterling Newman back in front at 27-25. Sharp scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half.

Fulton came into the game as one of the best shooting teams in the area, but the well ran dry in the third quarter as the Comets slowly built their lead.

“We have good shooters; that’s what we do best,” Coffey said. “I thought we had some good looks, but they didn’t fall. I’ll tell my guys to take those shots tomorrow and the day after that.”

The Steamers were led by Dail and senior guard Zach Barber, who finished with 12 points each.

With time winding down in the third, Fulton’s Kyle Huebner drilled a 3 from the left wing to pull his team within three at 35-32.

McCarty and Huebner exchanged baskets early in the fourth quarter, and a free throw by Barber trimmed the deficit to one.

Newman answered with a 6-0 run to take a 48-39 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

A 3 by Barber made it a 48-44 game with a minute and a half to play, but Newman got clutch free throws from Sharp down the stretch to salt away the victory.

“That was one of our toughest challenges; it was a real good game. It’s always hard to come here to Fulton with their fans — they get you riled up, but we kept our composure in the second half,” said McCarty who finished with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Coffey, meanwhile, was pleased with the effort from his team.

“You’re never happy with a loss, but I felt we handled ourselves well. I think we’re a very good basketball team and our guys knew that coming in. We play them again, and it will be a battle then too.”

The two teams meet again Feb. 7 at Newman.