NEWARK – With an all-new starting lineup and playing just one senior, Newark knew it would go through some growing pains this season.
However, Friday night felt like a punch to the gut.
Visiting Pickerington North used a stunning 22-0 second-half run to overturn a 13-point Wildcat lead and earn a 56-49 Ohio Capital Conference-Ohio Division win in Jimmy Allen Gymnasium.
Newark (0-2, 0-1) seemed in control with a 35-22 lead and 3:28 left in the third quarter after B.J. Duling scored inside and Hunter Dennison assisted Justin Carter on a 3-pointer. But the Wildcats then went more than seven minutes without scoring, and the Panthers pounced.
North (2-0, 1-0) used its size and athleticism to rattle the Wildcats with a variety of zone traps, leading to offense on the other end. The Panthers used 11 players, including four sophomores, and five players at least 6-foot-4.
Matt Lanier came off the bench to ignite North with all 11 of his points in the run, including a trio of 3-pointers. The Panthers used an 11-0 run ending the third and 11-0 surge starting the fourth to suddenly open a 44-35 lead with 4:17 left before Carter finally broke the drought for Newark with a foul shot, followed by a drive through the lane.
Dennison hit one of his three 3-pointers with 1:57 left to keep the Wildcats within 47-42. Kaleb Jarrett, who had four assists off the bench, and Duling had rebound baskets as Newark trimmed it to 50-47 with 31 seconds left only to see North sink six consecutive free throws.
“To persevere in a hostile environment, such a tough place to play, showed our togetherness,” North coach Jason Bates said. “We tried to disrupt what they wanted to do. You can’t just allow a team like Newark to come down and run their sets. We wanted to throw different looks at them and make their guards uncomfortable.”
Mission accomplished, as Newark committed 20 turnovers and never got into a second-half offensive flow.
“We didn’t handle their pressure very well,” Newark coach Jeff Quackenbush said. “It was pretty good pressure with some long hands. They used three-quarter court, 1-2-2 and 1-3-1, picked us up just before half court and didn’t let anything in the paint. Give them credit.”
Newark handled the pressure for two and a half quarters. It bolted ahead 14-3 as Duling had a pair of first-quarter dunks, one off a Kobe Long-Weber lob, while Duling had a pair of blocks and Long-Weber made a pair of 3-pointers. Dennison drained a pair of second-quarter 3s as the Wildcats took advantage of 28 percent first-half shooting by North to lead 26-20 at the break.
Duling had a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double for Newark, which outrebounded the taller Panthers 33-27 but made only 7 of 16 foul shots. Carter added 10 points, Dennison had five assists, Long-Weber four steals and Evan Thomas three.
“Our kids played really hard,” Quackenbush said. “We took like seven or eight charges successfully. We got better since last week, and we’re going to keep getting better.”
Pickerington North 8-12-13-23 — 56
Newark 14-12-9-14 — 49
Pickerington North: 17-47 FG, 17-23 FT, 5-14 3pt. (Lanier 3, McNamara 2), 27 rebounds (Shelton 6, Hunter 6), 15 turnovers, 10 Assists (Carter 4, Wiley 3), Steals 7 (Wiley 3). Scoring: Carter 2 9-12 13; Lanier 4 0-0 11, Shelton 3 2-2 8, Wiley 1 5-6 7, McNamara 2 0-0 6, Hunter 2 1-2 5, Montes 2 0-1 4, Hamilton 1 0-0 2.
Newark: 18-43 FG, 7-16 FT, 6-21 3pt. (Dennison 3, Long-Weber 2, Carter 1), 33 rebounds (Duling 15), 20 turnovers, 12 Assists (Dennison 5, Jarrett 4), Steals 13 (Long-Weber 4, Thomas 3). Scoring: Duling 6 3-10 15; Carter 4 1-3 10, Dennison 3 0-0 9, Thomas 2 2-2 6, Long-Weber 2 0-0 6, Jarrett 1 1-1 3.