Newcastle men just keep on rolling

By: 
Sonja Karp

Dylon Tidyman goes hard to the rack for two as his Blazer defender attempts to draw the charge. The Dogies got the better of Torrington, exacting revenge for the early season loss in Goshen County. (Photo by Bob Bonnar/NLJ)

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Reporter

 

In two hard fought battles against ranked teams, the Dogies proved they could hang with the big dogs as they got the better of the Torrington Trailblazers in the Dome on Friday, and the Big Horn Rams in a road game on Saturday.

The Trailblazers came into the weekend ranked fourth in 3A while the Rams were ranked third in 2A, but it appeared as though the Dogies had an answer for what either team threw at them.

“Anytime you can get a sweep on the weekend, you gotta feel good about yourself, especially when you play two ranked teams like we did,” head coach Allen Von Eye declared. “Both are extremely solid. We still have a ways to go and need to clean up some things, but it was a good weekend for us.”

The conference contest against Torrington on Friday was a rematch, and the last time these two teams met early in January, the Trailblazers were victorious over the Dogies by a margin of nine points. According to Von Eye, in that game his team struggled offensively against a very well executed defense. However, on Friday the Dogies seemed to have no issues handling the pressure.

“Our ball movement was as good as it’s been for a while. We swung the ball well and made them guard us for extended periods of time,” he nodded. “We still raced it and did what we needed to do, but then we were incredibly patient and we were able to get really good looks because of our patience.”

The Dogies had a huge first half on both ends of the court, and were able to put up 34 points in the first two quarters while holding Torrington to only 16. 

“We built a considerable lead and were able to control the basketball game throughout the entire first half, and our defense was incredible,” he began. “We held them to the teens, they only shot 15 percent in the first two quarters and they maybe had one uncontested shot. The only negative from that first half is that we gave up way too many offensive rebounds, and we just can’t be giving up second chance opportunities.”

It became fortunate that Newcastle had established such a cushion early, however, as Torrington came blazing back in the second half of play, outscoring the home team 37-25.

“We knew they’d be coming after us in the second half, and we battled hard in the third quarter even though they got some shots to fall and got to the free throw line quite a few times,” Von Eye stated. “It was the fourth quarter where we tightened up a little bit. We were up 10 with about seven minutes to go. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we knew there was a ways to travel before we got there.”

As the Trailblazers fought and clawed their way back into the game, the Dogies appeared to tense up and struggled to find a balance between being too cautious or not cautious enough. Torrington was able to cut the lead to just four points late in the game, and had momentum on their side, when a huge play by senior Dylan Talley flipped the script and swung the momentum back to the Dogies.

Talley stole the ball in the back court and went hard to the rack where he drew an and-one which he cashed in on. The play brought the lead back up to seven for Newcastle and got the home crowd back into the game. Talley was also on the money with his free throws in the waning minutes of the contest, which helped to ice the 59-53 Dogie win.

“In the last few weeks, Dylan has been so much more active, aggressive and assertive with himself on offense and that’s huge,” Von Eye  “We have to have guys like that step up when teams pay attention to our top two guys, and we’re really starting to see that happen.”

Cade Ostenson led the team with 22 points on the night, while Dylon Tidyman and Talley each contributed 12. Kyle Haslam and Isaiah Brooks added five apiece and Zach Purviance rounded out the scoring with three points for the Dogies.

The next day, the Dogies headed to Big Horn for yet another challenge.

“Big Horn is a legitimate #3 in 2A and are as good as anyone on the East side, and they will find themselves in the mix of it when it comes down to a state title,” Von Eye predicted. “We knew going in that they are solid. They aren’t flashy, they don’t have any real standout players, but every one of the kids shoot the ball well. They aren’t a three-point shooting team, but they are 56-58 percent from two-point.”

The Rams fill their roster with football players who, according to Von Eye, presented the Dogies with the most physical contest they’ve played all season.

“We did some really good things defensively in the interior, but to be honest, we had all we could handle defending them,” he exclaimed. “They shot the ball better than anyone we’ve played all season, even though we were doing good things on defense.”

The two teams were knotted up at 32 points each as they retired to the locker room for the halftime break, but when play resumed, the Dogies appeared determined to break the tie.

“In the third quarter, we came out in attack mode and extended the lead to eight or nine,” Von Eye began. “But they came fighting back into the game, and before you knew it, we were only up two.”

The Rams were able to tie up the game with free throws with only nine seconds to go, but the Dogies kept their cool.

“We work on those situations in practice, and we left it to a senior to make the play,” Von Eye explained. “We want the last shot off at about two seconds, and Cade hit a huge shot with only 1.4 seconds left so we got the win.”

Though it was a slim margin of victory, the 66-64 win pushed the Dogies’ win streak to four games and provided a feather in their cap having taken down two ranked teams back-to-back.

Once again, Ostenson was the team’s leading scorer with 25 points. Tidyman was close behind with 23, Haslam had 13, Talley added four and Isaiah Covey contributed one.

This week the Dogies have only one contest as they head to Chadron on Saturday to take on the Cardinals. Though it is another non-conference game, Von Eye is looking forward to having his squad take on a team which will throw some definite challenges their way as they draw nearer to post-season play.

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