SENECA — Last week, both the Newark and Seneca girls basketball teams were busy each winning their respective conference tournament championships.
So even though it was coincidental, it proved quite appropriate that both ballclubs would meet Monday evening to begin the stretch run of the 2018-19 hoop campaign.
The Lady Norsemen left absolutely no doubt between the pair of local powers after a resounding 62-41 victory over the Lady Irish here at SHS.
Newark (19-6) used its stifling half-court, 1-2-2 zone defense to force 24 Seneca turnovers. The Lady Norsemen also received balanced scoring, with four players registering double-digit efforts on the heels of a sparkling overall team shooting effort of 23 of 52 (44 percent) throughout the contest.
Senior Evie Martin led the way with a game-high 14 points, while junior J.J. Mitchell added 11 tallies and a contest-best five steals. Sophomore Kaitlyn Hatteberg also chipped in with 11 markers, while junior all-state guard Meggie Scott was stellar on all ends of the floor with 10 points along with game-leading totals of seven assists and seven rebounds as well as four steals that rounded out a complete court contest.
Sophomore Brooke Kala was also vital to the winning mix with six points, four assists and three steals, as the Lady Norsemen raced out to a 24-point lead at halftime and never looked back in registering their ninth consecutive victory since having last tasted defeat more than a month ago at Ottawa’s Christmas tournament.
"Our defense has really been stepping up big-time lately, and I'm the most pleased with that along with the fact that our offense came out on fire tonight in the first half, which really helped the tone against a very good team tonight," said NHS coach Barb Scott. "It was a strong effort that was super-balanced offensively and very aggressive on defense, and that's the way we want to play. Seneca's got a great team, and Ted (O'Boyle, Seneca’s coach) does a very nice job with them.
“I’m very happy to come in here on a Monday and produce a big win after we won our conference tournament championship on Friday."
The Lady Irish (19-5) received a team-best 10 points from senior Lexi Greve along with eight and five tallies, respectively, off the hands of seniors Kylie Winsor and Grace Alley.
But the wealth of turnovers and some chilly overall shooting (17 of 56, 30 percent) kept Seneca in the deep freeze for the majority of the night against the Lady Norsemen.
"That's a good Newark team, and I know we won the championship last Thursday at our conference tournament, but honestly we've had two rough games in a row including tonight where Newark really took it to us," O'Boyle said. "Newark's tough, and we haven't really had a team do what they did to us tonight so far this season. They exposed a lot of our weaknesses, and credit their guard (Meggie Scott). She creates for everybody else and is responsible for so much of their overall production, both offensively and defensively. She's a smart basketball player and one heck of a talent all the way around."
The Lady Norsemen raced out to a 19-2 lead early. Mitchell put in a basket at 7:10, a pair of free throws at 5:35 and a 3-pointer at 4:40 that helped spark her team to a 21-7 advantage after one period of play.
"The defense of ours in the first quarter really helped open up my offense, where I haven't been scoring as much as I've wanted to," Mitchell said. "But tonight I got off to a good start, and I felt pretty excited about that."
Newark stepped on the gas even more in the second stanza, outscoring Serena 20-10 to take a 41-17 lead into the locker room at the half.
Then, in the third period, Greve tallied eight inside markers for the Lady Irish to help post a 10-all stalemate and a 51-27 Lady Norsemen lead entering the final eight minutes of play.
Meggie Scott's right-wing triple at 5:35 and two Martin free throws at 5:10 gave Newark its biggest lead at 60-31 before the benches emptied for the rest of the proceedings.
"I'm smiling after tonight, and I told the girls I know we can get even better offensively, defensively and with our ball movement," Coach Scott said. "Its started to click lately, and we're really having fun right now."
Newark 62, Seneca 41
(Key: FG FT-FTA TP)
NEWARK (62) — Schofield 0 0-0 0, Kala 3 0-0 6, Borton 1 0-0 2, Scott 4 0-0 10, Mitchell 3 4-6 11, Gittins 2 0-0 4, Hatteberg 5 1-2 11, Skelton 1 0-2 2, Friestad 0 0-0 0, Martin 3 8-10 14, Long 1 0-0 2. Totals 23-52 13-20 62.
SENECA (41) — Cade 0 0-0 0, Alley 2 1-1 5, Culbreth 0 0-0 0, Giertz 2 0-0 4, Ab. Jashari 2 0-0 4, Greve 5 0-0 10, Bromberek 2 0-2 4, Bruno 1 2-4 4, Ar. Jashari 1 2-2 4, Silvola 0 0-0 0, Winsor 3 0-0 8, Baker 0 0-0 0. Totals 17-56 5-9 41.
Newark (19-6) 21 20 10 11 — 62
Seneca (19-5) 7 10 10 14 — 41
3-point goals – Newark 3-14 (Scott 2, Mitchell); Seneca 2-11 (Winsor 2). Rebounds – Newark 35 (Scott 7, Gittins 6, Skelton 6, Martin 5); Seneca 30 (Bromberek 7, Baker 5). Turnovers – Newark 17; Seneca 24. Total fouls (none fouled out) – Newark 11; Seneca 10.