A new season on the hardwood kicked off in fine fashion for the hometown Newcomerstown High Trojans with a 65-60 victory over Indian Valley on Friday.
Trojan mentor Danny Weekley termed the win a true team effort as nine Trojans hit the scoring column and a total of 11 players saw the floor in the contest.
Tonight was a great team win, Weekley said. It was a true team effort as we faced some foul trouble at times and needed some guys to step up and give us some minutes. We played 11 guys tonight and while it might not show up on the stat sheets they all contributed to the win.
Indian Valley has a nice team ... it was a real battle all night, Weekley continued. We feel real fortunate to get this win. Its a good way to start the season, thats for sure.
Another factor in the NHS win was a big edge at the charity stripe, with the Trojans finishing with a 27-of-42 effort compared to just 10-of-18 for the visiting Braves.
A difference in strategy led to the contrast, as Indian Valley relied on the outside shot, hoisting up 26 attempts from beyond the three-point line (6-of-26) while the Orange and Black attempted no treys and preferred to be aggressive in attacking the basket.
Junior Joey Raach got the Trojans off and running in the first period, pumping in 10 points to lead his team to a slim 17-16 advantage.
In the second, stanza the Braves regrouped and outscored the hosts by a 17-13 margin to lead 30-24 at the intermission.
A halftime adjustment paid early dividends in the third quarter as 6-4 senior Cody Sproat of the Trojans made his presence felt inside versus the Indian Valley zone defense.
We wanted to come out and look for Cody on the backside of their zone, Weekley explained. We had some success getting him the ball and took care of the rest to get us off and running.
Sproat responded with an eight point spurt to lead Newcomerstown to a 16-9 scoring edge in the quarter to grab a 46-42 entering the final period.
In the fourth quarter, the Trojans held on for the win with a 19-18 edge by hitting on 15-of-20 free throws, with Raach delivering a clutch 4-of-4 effort in the waning seconds.
Our kids did a nice job of keeping their composure dwon the stretch, Weekley said. We knocked down some foul shots, including Joey hitting those four straight that really were key.
Raach finished the night with 24 points to pace the Trojans while also collecting with three assists and three steals...not bad for someone who battled flu-like symptoms all day.
Joey just played super tonight, Weekley continued. He was sick all day, then to come out and play like that, it was a Michael Jordan-like performance. He played his butt off all night.
Right behind Raach was Sproat, who closed his night with 20 points while Kristopher Wolf added seven points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Trojans.
Indian Valley (0-1) was paced offensively by Ian Kandray with 14 points. Chris Martin tallied 12, Brady Byers chipped in with 11 off the bench and Jamie McAdam finished with 10.
I really felt the crowd gave us an edge also tonight, Weekley said. The fans helped push us to the win. Were trying to build something special here and having that fan support is a huge part of that, so thanks to the fans for coming out. Keep on coming.
NEXT Newcomerstown travels to Sugarcreek to play Garaway in its Inter-Valley Conference lid-lifter Tuesday at 6 p.m.