The Newburg girls basketball team continued their hot start to the 2018 season on Saturday when they faced off against Plato in the opening round of the Frisco League Tournament. After a sluggish first half, the Lady Wolves used a big second half to collect their third win of the season with a 51-49 victory.
Newburg struggled from the field in the game's opening quarter on Saturday, scoring just six points in the opening frame. A Bailey Brookshire three gave them a much needed lift, but the Lady Wolves survived early thanks to great defense. Newburg managed to hold Plato to just nine points in the opening frame and went into the second quarter trailing by three points.
The offense picked up for both teams in the second quarter, but Newburg continued to struggle from the field. Brookshire managed to score five points from the field, but half of Newburg's 14 points in the quarter came from the charity stripe. Macy Suschanke led the scoring in the quarter with six points, four of which came from free throws. Plato, meanwhile, kept pace, matching Newburg point for point. Newburg nearly went into the half tied with Plato, but the Lady Eagles hit a three in the final minute to take a 23-20 lead into the break.
The Lady Wolves were able to find their footing more in the third quarter, scoring more field goals than they did in the entire first half. Newburg managed to find that rhythm despite some foul trouble. Marah Suschanke fouled out with 2:24 left in the third quarter and Claire Affolter played most of the final quarter and a half with four fouls. Despite that foul trouble, C. Affolter gave the Lady Wolves a big boost late in the third. She was able to drive and draw a foul, hitting the shot in the process. Affolter hit the free throw and the three point play gave Newburg a 30-27 lead with 1:33 left in the frame. Then with 30 seconds left to play in the quarter, she found herself in the same situation. After making a shot, she missed her free throw, but she gathered up the rebound, scoring a quick four points. Macy Suschanke finished the quarter with another basket and Newburg went into the fourth with a 36-29 lead.
Newburg then got out to a fantastic start in the fourth. Brookshire kicked off the quarter with a pair of threes. Newburg's lead quickly ballooned out to 44-29, as they started the final frame with an 8-0 run. Plato got a three from Kelsey Todd to end Newburg's run and that started an equally strong run from the Lady Eagles. Plato went on to go on an 11-2 run over the next several minutes, bringing the score to 46-43. Brookshire snapped the streak with a pair of free throws with just over two minutes left to play, but Plato instantly responded on the other end. After Newburg missed a chance to add some free throws, Plato got a layup from Kennedy Hall to cut the score to 48-47, which led to a Newburg time out. Macy Suschanke was quickly fouled after the timeout and hit one of two free throws with 56.5 seconds left to play. Grace Affolter then came up with a big steal on the other end, but Suschanke missed out on a chance to extend the lead after a pair of missed field goals. Plato eventually tied the game with 21 seconds to play after a layup by Hall. Brookshire was then fouled on the next possession and she hit one of those two shots to take a 50-49 lead. Suschanke added one more free throw with 2.1 seconds left in the game and Newburg went on to win by the final score of 51-49.
"We've won two now against teams that are pretty decent teams, New Bloomsfield at Helias, which was a strange environment and here with a big crowd after Thanksgiving in a strange environment and they're both eerily similar," said head coach Jeff Atchison after the game. "We came out and got a 10 point lead and then pooped it away and had to struggle to keep it. To be able to do that even with this group of freshmen and sophomores is a big deal, but we've got a junior in there and she's pretty darn scrappy and all of our kids will play hard and I think that's big. It gets us ready for Districts."
The freshman duo of Brookshire and Claire Affolter led the charge on the offensive end in the win. Brookshire scored 19 in the victory, while Affolter scored 13. Brookshire also had six rebounds and two steals, while Affolter rounded out a double-double with 10 boards, five steals, a block and two assists. Macy Suschanke added 13 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists of her own in the victory. Grace Affolter added three points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Adriauna Williams chipped in with two points and a steal. Coach Atchison has loved what he's seen out of that freshman duo so far, but he also knows that they've gotten some help from a solid supporting cast.
"They've been really big. Bailey is a really good scorer and if you leave her open, she's going to nail it and Claire just never stops her motor. She plays bigger than she is," said the Newburg head coach. "There's three other sophomores with Adriauna coming off the bench, she got to play two or three different spots and she does a really good job playing two or three different spots and Marah is an undersized post down there and Macy does a great job too out there. I think we get a lot of contributions from everybody."
Coach Atchison knows his young team still has a lot to learn early in the season, but a tough two point win in the Frisco League Tournament is a great place to learn some of those lessons.
"We handled being in a strange environment, what we didn't handle was the game situations. It's hard to work on that with just six or seven kids. Some of these late game things, and I need to do a better job of figuring out better ways to do that," said Atchison. "Once we get some of these late games and know when to take shots and when not to take shots and who needs to take them, then we'll be a little bit of a better team."
The Lady Wolves will face the winner between the top seeded Licking Lady Wildcats and eighth seeded Dixon on Wednesday, Nov. 28.