STERLING — Big third quarters from Cade Gorzny and Devon House helped Newman build an 18-point lead, and the Comets held off a big fourth quarter from Jackson Funfsinn for a 72-64 win over St. Bede on Friday.
The Comets’ 35-29 halftime lead was cut to 35-32 when St. Bede’s Alec Kunkel opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer. From there, Newman went on an 11-1 run, getting six points from House and five from Gorzny during the stretch.
Two of House’s points came after Brycen Bartel stepped in front of a St. Bede pass, prevented the ball from going out of bounds, and, in the process of saving it, sent a behind-the-back pass to House, who then cruised in for a layup.
It was one of 12 steals the Comets grabbed in the game.
“We were playing really good help defense,” House said. “We were getting turnovers and getting easy layups.”
After the Bruins got back within six, Newman launched a 13-1 run to lead 59-41, getting 3-pointers from Gorzny and Jacob Terveer, a layup from Gehrig Koerner, and a three-point play from House.
In the fourth quarter, Funfsinn sparked a Bruins’ rally. He hit back-to-back baskets in the paint on St. Bede’s first two possessions of the quarter and was fouled on the second, converting the three-point play. After Luke Sanchez hit a pair of free throws, Funfsinn connected from 3-point range, cutting Newman’s lead to 61-53.
The Bruins (2-4, 0-1 TRAC) came within six points twice, but Newman hit 7 of 13 free throws in the closing minutes and corralled long rebounds off missed Bruin 3-point attempts.
“I just think we were giving more effort (in the fourth quarter), and we need to give that kind of effort the entire game,” Funfsinn said.
Funfsinn finished the game with 29 points – 18 of those in the second half, and 10 in the fourth quarter. He also reeled in 10 rebounds.
“[We were] just trying to stay in front of him,” Newman coach Ray Sharp said. “He’s a really good player, he gets to the rim, he handles the ball really well, and he also, if you double-up on him, he’ll find the open guy. He’s a great player, and our defense has to be better than we were tonight. We had trouble keeping him from getting to the rim.”
Kunkel added 12 points.
“We tried to get a lot of isolations and just simple pick-and-rolls going, which was working just fine,” Funfsinn said.
Gorzny finished with 20 points, but most of those came in the second half. He hit a 3-pointer late in the first quarter for his first points of the game, then hit another 3 and had a steal and layup in the second quarter.
“I was cold in the beginning. That’s how it’s been all season,” Gorzny said. “I’ll find my groove later in the season. I’ll try to go all four quarters with my shot.”
Newman (4-1, 1-0 Three Rivers East) just got Gorzny back from the football team a week ago, so he spent a lot of time in practice this week running to get his basketball legs back under him.
Early in Friday’s game, he was still looking for his shot as well. Before he was able to get going, the Comets were able to feed the ball to Koerner. The senior guard scored 10 points in the first quarter alone, hitting a pair of 3-pointers.
“That was big. That was what I need,” Gorzny said. “If I’m off, Gehrig’s probably on, so that’s pretty good for our team.”
Newman shooters were hot all-around to start the game. The Comets hit the first three shots they took from the field and were 6-for-10 shooting in the first quarter. After missing three shots in a row and one point late in the first quarter, Newman hit its next five from the field, capped off by Gorzny’s second 3.
Newman opened the game trying to work the ball inside to generate open looks for shooters on the outside, but St. Bede’s zone limited the Comets’ ability to do that, so Newman had to adjust.
“We went from the outside to the inside, and we started knocking down 3s,” House said. “That opened up the inside for us.”
For the game, the Comets shot 26-for-57 from the field (46 percent) and 7-for-20 from 3-point range (35 percent).
“They were bigger than us, so we couldn’t really guard them man[-to-man], so we ended up in some 2-3 and some 1-3-1 zone,” Funfsinn said. “I think that kind of stopped them better than our man defense in the second half.”
The teams were nearly even on the boards, with St. Bede pulling down 37 rebounds to Newman’s 36. Travis Williams had four rebounds in just under two quarters of play before he came up limping after being called for a charge. House then took over the bulk of the rebounding duties and finished with 15. Terveer pulled down five.
In addition to the 10 rebounds Funfsinn grabbed for the Bruins, three different players each had at least five.
“A lot of times we’ll have an advantage inside, and we’ve got to use it,” Sharp said. “I didn’t think we used it as well tonight. We’ve got to do a better job of using that. Travis tweaked an ankle in the first half so he didn’t play the second half, so that took a little bit away, but we’ve still got to get more post touches for sure.”
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