Mooseheart boys survive Newark’s stall tactics

SOMONAUK – Newark senior guard Grant Riehle-Moeller made a running layup to beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter, and the Norsemen fans finally had something to cheer about.

By the end of the half, they had plenty cheer about in the Somonauk Regional championship game against Mooseheart.

Still, a total of 21 points were scored in the first half due to Newark’s deliberate style of play. The second half was very similar and the result was 47 combined points by the two teams and a 25-22 win by Mooseheart.

The pace was obviously one that Newark favored.

“They were in a 1-3-1 zone, which allowed us to take time off the clock and shrink the game,” Newark coach Rick Tollefson said. “We made a few mistakes and we had a few times when the baskets went in and out and we struggled to score, but we wanted to try to shorten the game.”

A strategy that almost worked.

“It was a really wise tactic and it worked for the most part but they didn’t get the ‘W’,” Mooseheart guard J.J. Odunsi said.

If it weren’t for Odunsi’s steal at the end of the game, it might have gone the other way. Newark had the ball down by three with 4.4 seconds left when he got the game-clinching steal.

“Obviously they were going for a 3-point play,” Odunsi said. “On the play, the guy they were trying to get the ball to was tripped up, so at that point I went towards the next closest guy. Luckily for me it was a bounce pass and I was on it.”

After turning the ball over in each of its first four possessions to start the game, then missing its next six shots, Newark was being held scoreless by Mooseheart in the championship game of the Somonauk Class 1A Regional. However, because the Norsemen were holding the ball on offense, the Red Ramblers could only lead 6-2.

In the second quarter the trend continued, with Newark stalling on offense and Mooseheart shooting poorly to counteract nine Norse turnovers in the half.

Then it got quite interesting – and again at the buzzer to end the second quarter. Newark guard Matt Eike got a rebound off of his own missed shot, and he was fouled as the buzzer sounded. He proceeded to make both free throws, but then Newark got bonus throws after the Mooseheart bench was assessed two technical fouls for going to the locker room before the free throws were shot – thus meaning before the half was officially over. Sophomore forward Jack Clausel then made both of his free throws to make it a one-point game at the break.

Mooseheart led 25-22 after three, but then held scoreless in the final frame. They managed to hang on for the win.