Newman usually looks to leading-scorer Peter Drennan for a lift whenever it finds itself in close games, but the Greenies needed their bench to give them that lift Saturday night.
A 7-2 run to open the fourth quarter, which was powered by their reserves, helped push Newman (6-6) to a 31-27 victory over Lusher in a nondistrict matchup at Lusher.
“Our other guys were tired,” Newman coach Jimmy Tillette said of his starting unit. “They kept things steady. Our group at the end did a good job of competing and defending without fouling.”
After entering the fourth quarter tied with Lusher (7-8) at 21, Newman reserves Elbert Thomas and Wyatt Mumphrey gave their team a lift with their effort and physical play. The duo combined for five rebounds in the first few minutes of the quarter, and Thomas scored five of the seven points during Newman’s run.
Newman took a 28-23 lead halfway through the final quarter, and the Greenies never looked back. The Lions cut the deficit to 30-27, but Newman made enough stops at the end to pull out the win.
“They’re an aggressive team, and they’re well coached,” Tillette said. “They get after you, and they’re athletic. Last year, we couldn’t have played with these guys, so I think we’ve made some gains.”
Lusher utilized its pressure defense to limit Drennan and make things tough for him. After a 32-point performance in Newman’s double-overtime victory over St. Martin’s on Tuesday, the senior scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field and never could quite get into a rhythm the entire night.
“They made us back-door cut, but they helped a lot with their (center) and we haven’t seen that a lot,” Tillette said. “We just have to make some corrections, and we’ll get better at that.”
Darien Minor led the charge for the Lions in the first half with 10 of his team’s 15 points to go along with five rebounds as Lusher took a 15-14 lead into halftime. He finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Darrell Lewis added seven points and five rebounds.
Lewis and Minor were especially effective in the first half as they assisted the Lions to a 14-4 rebounding advantage and helped turn away much of Newman’s attack.
Tillette said part of his team’s struggles, though, were a result of just missing shots.
“We missed a lot of wide-open shots,” Tillette said. “I think they did a good job, but if a couple of our shots just went down this would’ve been a different game.”