The Newburg boys basketball season came one shot short of lasting for one more quarter when they faced off against Crocker for the Class 2 District 9 Championship on Friday, Feb. 23. After forcing overtime, Newburg needed one more three to fall to force a second, but Landen Callahan's desperation shot didn't drop and Crocker advanced to Sectionals with a 51-48 win.
Points were hard to come by all night long and neither team was able to take control of the game early as a result. The biggest lead by either team in the opening quarter was three points, but those leads didn't tend to last long. Crocker had the upper-hand at the end of the quarter thanks to some hot shooting from long range, going into the second with a 14-11 lead.
After a close first quarter, Crocker looked like they were on the verge of breaking away in the second. The Lions found some consistent offense in the quarter and saw their lead extend to as many as nine points. Newburg was able to stop the bleeding with a three from Caleb Austin, but still went into the half trailing 27-20.
The Wolves came out in the third and instantly fought their way back in the game, going on a 6-1 run to open the quarter. The lead was traded back and forth throughout the quarter with Newburg's seniors leading the charge. Callahan knocked down a big three and led the Wolves with six points in the quarter, which included two late free throws to give Newburg a 34-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter continued the back and forth nature of the game. Newburg led by as many as three in the quarter, but could never get that run that put Crocker away. The Lions kept responding to every Newburg lead to keep the game close. Late in the quarter, Ryan Terry hit a jumper to give the Wolves a 42-40 lead, but Crocker hit a pair of free throws on the other end to lock the game at 42. Newburg ran out the remaining 1:21 on the clock to play for the last shot, but a drive by Terry saw his shot bounce away and they were headed to overtime.
The lead continued to trade off throughout the overtime. Crocker was able to take a three point lead with a minute and a half left, but Callahan buried a three on the other end to lock the game up at 47. After running off some of the clock, Crocker's Ethyn Boorom knocked down a three from the corner to put one of the final nails in Newburg's coffin with 33 seconds to play. Newburg had one final shot after a wild pass from Terry bounced off a Crocker player before careening out of bounds under the Newburg basket with 8.6 seconds left. Callahan was able to fire a fade away three in hopes of tying the game at 51, but the shot didn't fall and the Wolves were left with a second place plaque.
"I'm disappointed that we couldn't get one for those seniors. They worked so hard and they're just so deserving of a District Championship," said head coach Logan Ray. "They put in so much time and I wanted to get one for them."
While he was disappointed they couldn't come away with the win, coach Ray was proud of the way his team clawed through this game.
"Crocker is just so big that they're hard to do anything with and I thought we just battled our tails off in the second half," said Ray. "I couldn't ask for better execution down the stretch...and the guys just played tired, they played back to back nights and they just kept battling to the end."
The Newburg seniors were huge all game long and all season long. Callahan led the Wolves with 18 points, Terry had another 13 and Travis McWilliams chipped in another six. For their underclassmen, Austin added another eight points. Those three seniors have been the heart and soul of the Newburg basketball program for the past few seasons as they've made it to three straight District Championships.
"We're the small school in the Frisco League, so like I told the guys earlier, to have the success for this three year stretch that we've had is a testament to the character and the talent and the hard work of these seniors that we've had," said the Newburg head coach. "They had the will to win, they're just winners. I've had a blast coaching them, it's been fun and I'm just very proud of them for all their achievements."