The Newburg girls basketball team (21-4, 7-1 Frisco League) hosted Iberia for their Senior Night and regular season finale on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
Newburg honored their six seniors on Wednesday and several of those seniors got the chance to shine. The Lady Wolves also checked off several of their season goals with a 70-38 win over Iberia. The win brought their season total to 21 and gave them their 20th straight win on their home court. It also brought their conference record to 7-1, which gives them at least Co-Champions of the Frisco League with Licking.
The Lady Wolves took advantage of the added energy that comes with Senior Night, especially on the defensive end. The Lady Wolves forced turnover after turnover to the point that Iberia was only able to even take a handful of shots in the first quarter. Newburg scored seven points before Iberia hit their first basket from the field and ended the quarter with a 15-5 lead. That lead could've been extended even further, but the high energy Lady Wolves rushed several possessions offensively to miss some easy buckets.
That overcommitment opened the window for Iberia to make a bit of a comeback in the second. The Lady Rangers charged back to bring the score to 19-14 with 5:40 left in the half. As soon as the Newburg lead was cut to five, the shots started to fall for the Lady Wolves. Riley Guffey responded by burying a three and she was eventually able to stretch the lead out to 11 with another three with two minutes remaining in the half. The senior then sank her third three of the quarter with just over a minute remaining in the half. Guffey had 11 points in the quarter to help give Newburg a 36-19 halftime lead.
The shots kept falling for Newburg in the second half. The Lady Wolves hit three shots from long range to quickly extend their lead. McKayla Callahan knocked down back-to-back threes early in the quarter and led Newburg with 11 points in the quarter. The Lady Wolves had their best offensive quarter in the third with 23 points to bring their lead to 59-32 with a quarter left to play.
The Lady Wolves hit two more threes in the fourth quarter to build their lead to over 30 points in the fourth, which allowed the clock to run for the remainder of the quarter. The seniors were able to watch the final minute relaxing on the bench, as Newburg cruised to a 70-38 win.
Guffey led Newburg with 20 points, sinking five threes in the win. Fellow senior Audrey Suschanke was tied with Kylee Brookshire for second on the team in scoring with 16 points. Callahan was the third senior in double figures with 14 points.
This was a special night for head coach Steve Guffey.
"All those kids are like my girls. I've had them since first grade...I went into their classroom and asked who wanted to play basketball. They came out and we started then," said coach Guffey. "It's kinda been a tough day, I've been thinking about the memories because I've been with them this whole time...it's just a special evening. They're just awesome kids, I feel like I'm one of the luckiest coaches around."
It was also an interesting night for coach Guffey because it was a bit of a senior night for him as well. Guffey will be stepping down as the girls head basketball coach at the end of the season, so he was happy to get a win in the final game he'd coach on his home court.
"It is kind of emotional for me too, but at the same time, we'll get somebody good in here to continue," said coach Guffey. "I felt like I did my job, I left the program in better shape then when I inherited it and it's going to be a good program. It'll be kinda nice to sit back and watch."
It was a family event for the Guffeys, as the honorary coach for the evening, Pete Wilson, is Riley's grandfather. It meant a lot to the senior that she was able to spend her Senior Night in a family atmosphere.
"(It being my dad's last game added to the emotions) definitely. My grandpa the honorary coach and so that made it worse too," said Riley with a chuckle. "It definitely plays on your mind, but it also makes you want to play harder for the people that come out and support you."
The Lady Wolves will now travel to Laquey for their District Tournament. Coach Guffey is glad that Newburg has been able to check off some of their season goals like having a 20 win season and winning the conference, but he doesn't want them to be content with stopping there.
"When we were in the locker room I told them, 'I don't want you to be satisfied with what the banner says now, you can add a lot more things to it, it's up to you,'" said coach Guffey. "It was kinda neat to hear them say, 'okay, well if we do this, will it say this?' So it was kinda neat to hear them talk that way. You just have to take it one game at a time now."
Riley Guffey and fellow senior Alexis Stevenson had similar mindsets as they prepare to face Belle in the opening round on Saturday, Feb. 18.
"We just have to stay focused. Like my dad said, it's a whole new season when Districts start. It's just staying focused and not letting too much confidence get into our heads," said Guffey. Stevenson simply added, "It's a clean slate."
Guffey - 20 pts, 7 asts, 2 stls; Suschanke - 16 pts, 5 stls; Brookshire - 16 pts, 6 rebs; Callahan - 14 pt,s 4 stls; Van Pelt - 4 pts; Dondlinger - 5 rebs, 3 stls