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On a night when Newark’s Brett Anderson, who averages 23.3 points-per-game, had just one field goal and four points after three quarters of play, the Norsemen still managed to advance to the quarterfinals of the 50th Annual Plano Christmas Classic.
Newark got a lift from senior guard Joe Hughes (15 points) early and freshman post Jack Clausel (17 points) late and stepped up in class and upset three seed Yorkville 50-36.
“I thought we played some good defense and didn’t do too bad a job of taking care of the ball,” said Newark coach Rick Tollefson. “I’m glad it was low scoring.
“Brett ended up with 11 [points]. I think it’s a sign of maturity that other members of the team are stepping up. In our first game [in the tournament] Brett was tied for third on the team in scoring with 13.”
Newark, seeded 11th, led 6-4 after a first quarter where no one shot well. The Norsemen were 2 of 7 and Foxes just 2 of 11 from the floor.
“The key was they out-hustled us and they wanted it more than we did plus Rick did a better job of getting his kids ready to play than I did,” said Yorkville coach Dan McGuire, whose team fell to 9-2.
Anderson’s lone point in the first half came with 4:38 left in the second quarter when he hit the second of two free throws.
“I don’t know why they weren’t falling, they felt good,” Anderson said of his shots. “I thought they even looked good but they kept hitting the rim and bouncing out.”
He helped keep his team in the game in the second quarter with two of his three blocked shots and the Norsemen led 20-15 at the break. Hughes had 10 of his points, including a pair of treys, at that point.
Newark led 33-30 after three quarters when Anderson drove thebaseline and scored on a dunk. He followed with a steal and layup and then Clausel made a spin on the baseline and laid in a left-handed fingertip roll to cap an 11-0 run stretching back to the third quarter. It gave Newark a 39-30 lead.
“He’s really got that move down,” Anderson said of Clausel
Tollefson could just smile at the memory.
“I told him if he went right it was an easy layup. Of course, going left got the crowd going,” the coach said.
Dakota Gette came off the bench and sparked the Foxes with a team-high 12 points but Yorkville made just 16 of 54 shots (30 percent) against the Norsemen’s 3-2 zone.
Taylor Carter added 10 points for Yorkville.
“It’s such a big rivalry from way back when,” said Anderson. “To be able to come out here and win after losing to them twice in tournaments here and at Sandwich last year, we couldn’t be more excited.”
The two schools used to be long-time Fox Valley Conference rivals, until Yorkville outgrew the league.
“[The rivarly] is not what it once was, but there’s always that Yorkville-Newark rivalry,” said Tollefson. “People who know, remember that was one of the biggest rivalries in the area.”
The Norsemen are now 2-0 vs. Northern Illinois Big 12 East opponents, having beaten Sycamore at its tournament Thanksgiving weekend. Newark now faces another team from that conference, Kaneland, in today’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal.