The Newburg boys basketball team opened the Frisco League Tournament against Plato on Saturday, Nov. 24. The Wolves couldn't get their offense in a rhythm, falling short 68-52.
The Wolves attempted to apply pressure with a press throughout the contest, but Plato was able to work their way around Newburg early. The Eagles used long passes to find their big men under the hoop for easy drives around the press throughout the first half. That helped Plato set the offensive tone in the first half, as they sprinted out to a 19-8 lead through the opening frame.
Newburg was able to get their offense jump started in the second quarter, but they weren't able to close the gap. Caleb Austin led the offense with five points in the quarter, while Gabe Killan added four points. Both Jared Lott and Tristan Wofford scored three points. Plato used their size to dominate Newburg in the paint, getting several offensive boards on their way to leading the Wolves 37-25 at the half.
Plato kept rolling in the second half thanks to several Newburg turnovers. The Wolves got within 10 points early in the frame, but couldn't maintain that pace. Plato finished the quarter on a 10-4 run to take a 52-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Eagles stretched their lead out to as much as 21 points in the second half as they started to run away with the contest. Newburg was able to get their offense going late, but they couldn't close the gap in a 68-52 loss.
"With having a young team, we're trying to establish an identity of what we're going to be. Right now we want to play fast and shoot the ball from the outside, but also we have to be under control and not give the ball back to them after we get some turnovers," said head coach Logan Ray after the game. "That's the next step for us is turning our defense into our offense, but playing under control at the same time. We're a young group, we need experience right now and sometimes losing early can lead ot better things down the road."
Hunter Mentola led the Newburg offense with 18 points in the loss. Austin added 10, while Wofford chipped in with eight. Lott added a pair of threes, while Justin Cantu contributed three points.
There were a couple of times in the game where the Wolves seemed to be on the brink of making a run. They'd hit a three and get some energy, but couldn't follow it up on the next possession. Coach Ray said the lack of runs came from failing to do the little things in the loss.
"Just doing the little things. Being out of position out on our press or defensively not completely executing and moving the ball on offense, not running a set play the way we needed to," said the Newburg head coach. "There was crucial times where we needed a bucket, we just didn't execute the way I think we can get to. To me it's just cleaning up some of those areas going forward and continue to do what we're doing, because I think we're doing a lot of good things, it's just not showing in that game."
The Wolves have a young team with just two seniors and one junior, so coach Ray sees this first loss of the season as an important learning experience.
"There's a lot of valuables from a game like this," said coach Ray. "The physicality of a senior-led Plato group. Every game is experience for these kids that have never touched the floor in a varsity game. For one the physicality, the speed of the game, understanding passing angles, how to beat the press. Lots of things to take away from it that we'll break down in film."
Newburg will face the loser between top seeded Licking and eighth seeded Laquey in the consolation bracket on Friday, Nov. 30.