Newcastle drops two games on the road

By: 
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

The Dogies were on the road for their two contests last week in Wright and Rapid City. They faced tough competition on Thursday against the Panthers, and again on Saturday against Rapid City Christian, but despite losing 21-63 and 21-76, respectively, head coach Allen Von Eye saw some progress from his team.

“We are getting better each and every game,” Von Eye reported. “The guys are starting to put things together and games like we had last week against good non-conference teams really help us improve.”

Against Wright, coach Von Eye changed up the starting line-up a bit in order to utilize the height that rookie junior Will Beastrom brings to the team with his 6-foot, 8-inch frame.

“Will is new to basketball so we are working with him to get him in a good position and to set him up to succeed,” Von Eye began. “Our five-out offense isn’t a good fit for him, so we also adjusted our offense to a four-out, one-in to keep him inside. Now we are figuring out how to get him the ball in a way that sets him up to score.” 

As the Dogies were executing their offensive sets, they were able to get some good looks, but they struggled to find the bottom of the net. They ended the contest shooting with only 18% efficiency, while the Panthers who felt comfortable on their home court ended the contest with 43% shooting efficiency. 

Up against tight rims, coupled with being out-rebounded, the Dogies found themselves in a hole early as the first quarter ended with Newcastle in a 9-18 deficit. The Panthers put together an offensive charge in the second quarter to out-score the Dogies 24-3 so took a dominating 43-11 lead into the locker room.

“We hustled really well but we gave up far too many rebounds,” Von Eye admitted. “We gave up 24 offensive rebounds to them, so that’s 24 extra opportunities for them to score, and you can’t do that at this level. When you’re not making buckets and not making free-throws, it makes it tough and puts so much more pressure on the defense.”

Unfortunately, the deeper the hole, the harder it is to dig out of, and the Dogies found themselves in a 40-point deficit in the third quarter, resulting in a running clock for the final frame of play. 

“It was a rough game, but we really did some good things,” Von Eye said. “We will keep growing and learning from each game.”

The Dogies’ biggest improvement from previous contests was that they were able to limit their turnovers somewhat, finishing the game with only 20. 

Beastrom had his best game of the season, ending with 9 points and 14 rebounds. Zander White added 5 points, Quint Perino put in 4, JJ Lipp contributed 2 points and Pate Tavegie chipped in with 1 point to round out the scoring for the team.

Going into the game against Rapid City Christian on Saturday, Von Eye and his crew were aware that this was a good team. They were 7-0 coming into the contest and were coming off of winning the [Lakota Nation Invitational] Tournament. 

“They returned everyone from last year, and really have all the pieces you could ever need,” Von Eye said. “They are also good athletes, and all
of that made things difficult for us, but we definitely did some really good things against them.” 

The Comets applied a great deal of defensive pressure to the Dogies, but Newcastle was able to deal much better with it than they had previously in the season, and according to Von Eye when his squad slowed down, they were able to do some good things offensively. Unfortunately, the more experienced Rapid City Christian team was able to speed things up quite often which didn’t bode well for Newcastle. 

The shot clock also brought in another wrinkle for the Dogies. Most of the players have little experience dealing with that, so it added another pressure point for the offense to address.

“We only ran up against it a couple of times, but it was enough to make things a little difficult,” Von Eye explained. “But, we fought right up until the end and we never gave up, which is great. Quint made some hustle plays that the casual watcher might not notice, but there are five plays that he made that come to mind that were pretty pivotal.”

“We would make a mistake on offense and let a run out happen, and even though he was the farthest player away, he slowed them down or stopped them,” he continued. “You have to have that. We also did much better with helping on defense and on closeouts.”

The Comets pulled out to a 52-10 lead by the end of the first half, so there was a running clock for the entire second half of play. Despite that, Newcastle was able to add 11 points to the scoreboard in those final 16 minutes. 

Perino ended the day as the team’s leading scorer with 10 points, Beastrom added 5, White had 4 and Wyatt Cole rounded out the scoring with 2 points.

“These types of games are the best practices we can get because we can’t simulate that kind of situation in practice,” Von Eye said. “And they also lead us into this week and the opening of quadrant match-ups against Moorcroft and Buffalo.”

The Wolves are in a similar situation, so Von Eye is focused on discipline as they prepare for the Friday night contest at home. Buffalo is a talented and athletic team again this year, so will present another challenge to the Dogies on Saturday.

Tip-off for varsity on Friday in the Dome is scheduled for 7 p.m., and in Buffalo on Saturday the boys game will follow the girls’ varsity contest, so it will begin at approximately 3 p.m.

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