NEWARK – Newark’s Michael Drumgo-Sharpe came into Thursday’s game averaging 15.1 points, so William Penn tried to make it tough for the junior guard to score.
The Colonials were having success until Drumgo-Sharpe hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:34 left, then added two clinching free throws as the Yellowjackets edged away for a 57-53 home victory in a key Blue Hen Flight A meeting.
“I don’t believe in pressure,” Drumgo-Sharpe said. “I’ve been here for three years. I know when the ball gets in my hands in a situation like that, my team believes in me and I believe in myself.”
Drumgo-Sharpe wound up reaching his average with 15 points as ninth-ranked Newark (7-2, 3-0) won its fifth in a row. The Yellowjackets’ only losses have come to Pennsylvania heavyweights Cheltenham and Chester, who are
a combined 12-4.
“I’m just glad that we were able to hold out,” Newark coach Shannon McCants Sr. said. “A lot of our kids were playing with emotion. … Every game is not going to be a blowout, so I think this was a great test for us.”
William Penn (4-3, 3-1) provided a stern challenge, but went 2:20 without a point in the final 3½ minutes to see its four-game winning streak vanish.
“They’ve got four guards that are really good,” Colonials coach Steve Christensen said. “… We tried to make it difficult on them, but those guys, eventually they’re going to make some shots. They did at the right times for them.”
William Penn jumped to a 9-2 lead in the first four minutes, only to see Newark go ahead 20-18 on back-to-back layups by Roland Byrd. The Colonials regained the momentum going into halftime, as Dasir King’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer for a 27-23 advantage.
But the Yellowjackets scored the final nine points of the third quarter, surging to a 38-32 lead on a layup by Eric Marshall, steal and layup by Chaz Knox, cutting layup by Kineph Turner and 3-pointer by Drumgo-Sharpe.
“I thought the third quarter really hurt us,” Christensen said. “They outscored us 15-5, so it gave them momentum and then we were trying to catch the game.”
William Penn caught up, taking a 47-46 lead when Terin Cochran muscled in for a layup with 3:29 to play. But the Colonials’ next score didn’t come until King’s offensive rebound with 1:09 remaining.
Newark capitalized. Turner fed Marshall for a layup that became a three-point play. Drumgo-Sharpe hit a free throw, Marshall drove for another score and Drumgo-Sharpe shook free for a 3-ball that stretched the Yellowjackets’ advantage to 55-47 with 1:34 to go.
“A big 3-pointer right there,” McCants Sr. said. “I knew sooner or later, they collapse a lot on defense. So I had one of our guys penetrate in, and he hit a very big 3-pointer.”
The Colonials rallied again, as Cochran hit two foul shots and King scored off the glass again to pull his team within 55-53. But Drumgo-Sharpe’s two free throws clinched it with 5.3 seconds left.
“This is the first team that has played me this close this year,” Drumgo-Sharpe said. “They tried to slow our game down. … Once we started playing our game, started getting aggressive, started getting in their head, started running the floor, they couldn’t keep up with us.”
Marshall added 12 points and Shannon McCants Jr. had nine – all on 3-pointers – for Newark. William Penn won the rebounding battle 36-22, as Cochran had 12 points and seven boards, Absalom Bowling and Gerrad Wall each scored 11 and King added seven points and eight rebounds.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.