The frigid cold outside Newcomerstown High School was in sharp contrast to the heat of the pace inside as the Trojans made a bold statement for the 2008-09 season with a 69-62 triumph over Coshocton on Saturday night.
It was just one game on a long road to the sectional tournament, but it was a big one. With four players posting double figures in scoring and a tight defense that kept Coshocton's offense off balance, Newcomerstown came out strong and decisively to extract some sweet revenge for the Redskin's 39 point win last year.
The team also made a statement to the Inter-Valley Conference that the orange and black will be a team to be reckoned with, as there were quite a few league teams in the stands scouting the game.
"Coshocton has a great tradition" said Trojan head coach Dan Weekley, "but we knew our kids have been building more and more the mind set that we can play with anyone. This was only one game and we know that. We'll enjoy it and get back to work Monday for Tuesday's game with Central Catholic. Because as I've told our guys, you have to have your A-game on every night if you're going to win in the IVC. We want to build up a lot of pride in the program. One game in itself won't do that, but it's a great step in the right direction."
Senior Curtis Blind was top dog for the Trojans as he hammered the nets for 20 points. But it was the overall balance of scoring that ensured the win, as junior Caleb Rankin tossed in 18 points, senior Chase Addy was right behind with 17, and senior J.C. Rine tacked on another 10.
That kind of contribution kept the Redskin defense honest as it could not put too much attention on any one player without getting burned by another.
Weekley noted, "I think the difference tonight was our ability to handle the basketball under pressure because they were coming at us. J.C., Caleb, and Chase did a great job with the ball, and we got great bench play with our depth from J.P. (Snyder), Josh (Miller), and Zach (Jones). They came in as role players and did a lot of the things we need if we're going to win, especially on defense. I also thought Matt (Ayres) did a good job with his first start as a freshman."
The Trojans shot out to a 14-6 first quarter lead as Blind dominated with eight points.
The Redskins came back in the second frame when Trojan scoring froze up long enough for them to go on a 15-5 tear and take the lead at 21-19 with 2:51 to go until the break. Six different Redskin players contributed to the comeback on offense.
Coshocton led 24-19 before Addy drained a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 24-22 by halftime.
The Trojans turned on the microwave in the third quarter to outscore their guests 25-16. Blind opened up scoring with a bucket before the Redskins countered with their own two-point shot by Christian Taylor and a trey by Dave Brown. At that point Coshocton led 29-24.
But the Trojans went on an 11-0 run that put them back in the lead for good. Addy started things off with an old-fashioned three-point play, then sank two more buckets that were sandwiched around 2-pointers by Blind and Rine.
Newcomerstown opened up the fourth quarter with a 47-40 lead. Coshocton hung tough but could not close the gap more than four points the rest of the way as the Trojans won the final period, 22-21.
In the last two minutes of the game, the orange and black made 9-of-17 free throws to keep the Redskins at bay with Rankin accounting for four of them. Coshocton had only two attempts during the same time period (both made) as they were forced to continually foul to get the ball back.
Weekley said, "We still need to improve our free throws, but we got much better in the second half. We were only 1-of-8 in the first half but improved after that."
Dave Brown had 20 points to lead the Redskins (1-1) while Dom McCluskey tacked on 18 markers.
Blind crashed the boards to haul in nine rebounds while Chris Miller led the Redskins with eight.
Newcomerstown connected on 26-of-48 (54%) field goals while Coshocton was 21-of-58 (36%). The Trojans put together a 14-of-31 (45%) performance at the free throw line while the Redskins were 13-of-24 (54%).
The Trojans fell in the reserve game, 50-38. Newcomerstown was only behind four points late in the game before Coshocton went on an 8-0 run to end the game. Serafin Sanchez knocked down 11 points to lead the Trojans (0-1). Trey Arney scored 12 points for the Redskins.
Newcomerstown travels to Central Catholic on Tuesday and hosts Garaway on Friday. Reserve games start at 6 p.m.
Rine 4-2-10, Rankin 6-5-18, Miller 1-0-2, Blind 9-2-20, Addy 6-3-17, Ayres 0-0-0, Snyder 0-2-2, Jones 0-0-0. Totals: 26-14-69.
Henry 0-0-0, Akers 1-0-3, Miller 3-2-8, Johnston 3-0-6, Turner 0-2-2, McClusky 7-2-18, Brown 6-5-20, B. Taylor 1-0-2, C. Taylor 0-2-2. Totals: 21-13-61.
Coshocton 6 18 16 21 - 61
Newcomerstown 14 8 25 22 - 69
3-point goals: N - Addy 2; Rankin 1. C - Brown 3; McCluskey 2; Akers 1.
(Editor's Note: This article was re-printed after an error in the Trojans' opponent was found. The News regrets the error.)