ARCANUM – The Arcanum Lady Trojans limped onto the court with no less than six players in their program out with knee or foot injuries in their Cross County Conference showdown with the visiting Newton Indians.
They say never back a wounded animal into a corner, and that’s what the Lady Indians did to Arcanum when they grabbed a 14-11 lead in the first quarter on Thursday.
Newton brought the pressure and was able to score in the open floor with Tatum McBride leading the way with six points.
Arcanum was able to keep it close behind Stevie Johnting’s four points and a triple from McKenzie Sharritts to trail 14-11.
Newton extended its lead to 18-11 at 5:29 on a drive by McBride … but that’s when Arcanum began to scratch and claw its way out of the corner.
Sharritts hit a triple and Johnting scored four points to eventually tie the game at 20, and then Alexis Abner’s triple gave Arcanum the lead for the first time 23-20 at the end of the first half.
Brian Brandon, the Arcanum junior varsity girls basketball coach, was filling in for head coach Matt Grote, who was unable to attend due to his wife having a baby.
“We knew it was going to be a battle, and we would have to come out from the horn playing with intensity. We needed to match their energy, and I thought we did an excellent job,” Brandon said.
The game was far from over, and Arcanum would need to keep playing hard because Newton would continue to come after the Trojans with pressure in the second half.
Newton’s McBride in the third quarter was focused on stopping the drive and scoring of Johnting, who scored just two free throws … but with the focus on slowing her down and keeping the middle tight, the Indians lost track of Sharritts, who already had two first half triples.
Sharritts on two consecutive out-of-bounds sets from opposite corners hit back-to-back triples to expand the Trojan lead to 29-20 with 5:51 to go.
“We blew our defensive assignment on Sharritts and lost her … you can’t do that with a shooter like her, and she made us pay,” Newton girls basketball coach Neil Hans said.
Newton never quit. With 48 second to go in the third quarter McBride closed the gap to 33-30 with a trey.
Arcanum responded with a fielder inside from senior Rebecca Deao to close the quarter up 35-30.
The hot shooting of Sharritts would continue in the final stanza as she hit her fifth 3-pointer of the night to give the Trojans a 40-32 lead, and Newton would try to play catch up the rest of the way.
Newton had opportunities to try and get back in it with its pressure … but the Indians just couldn’t find a way to get over the hump.
“If you can’t make layups and you throw the ball away too much it’s tough to win,” a disappointed Hans said.
“If you match our weights and heights to Arcanum we don’t measure up … the game was physical. We are a scrappy bunch … but we weren’t able to finish tonight with the bumping that was going on, and that was the difference in the game. We just couldn’t make shots,” Hans added.
Newton did make another run at Arcanum … but the difference maker on the night would have to be the outside shooting of Sharritts, who would come up big with one more triple.
It was her sixth of the night and established a single game 3-point record for the Lady Trojans.
Arcanum went on to record a 49-43 win over the Indians.
“Coach Hans is a great coach, and he has a great team so this was a great win tonight for us. This is a great group of kids. Coach Grote had them prepared well. Coach (Lauryn) Fair did a nice job of running the kids in and out, and this was a total team effort,” an excited Brandon said.
“What a great night for Sharritts. We really needed her contribution from the outside to break down their pressure so we could get the ball inside to our bigs,” Brandon added.
“They earned it. That’s a real good team … I always said they have as much talent as anyone in the league. They have a four-year starting point guard (Abner) who does a good job of taking care of the ball, a great athlete on the wing (Johnting) who can drive and shoot the ball very well, two big girls inside and a great outside shooter (Sharritts) who shot the ball extremely well tonight,” Hans concluded.
“It was great win tonight … but it won’t get any easier on Saturday as we have to get ready to travel to Tri-Village, the conference leader, and we’ll have to bring our best game,” Brandon concluded.
The only thing more exciting for Arcanum head coach Matt Grote than hearing of the win would be the birth of his second son, Colyn David, who along with his wife, Crystal, are doing just fine.
Arcanum was led in scoring by Sharritts on her record-breaking night with six treys and 18 points, Johnting had 12 points, and Abner added 11 in the win.
Arcanum raised its overall record to 11-7 and 7-2 in Cross County Conference play.
McBride led Newton with 18 points, and Madison Mollette chipped in 11.
The Indians fell to 11-6 overall and 6-3 in Cross County Conference. The Indians will be back in action on Saturday traveling to Bradford.
Score by quarters:
Newton …..14…06…10…13 – 43
Arcanum…11…12…12…14 – 49
Newton (3-1, 1-1)
Tatum McBride 18, Maddie Mollette 11, Macy Flanary 2, Elizabeth Carroll 2, Kaylee Kesler 6, Mallory Dunlevy 4 – Totals 1-13-14/21 – 43
Alexis Abner 11, Stevie Johnting 12, McKenzie Sharritts 18, Brittany Rebecca Deao 4, Madison O’Daniel 4 – Totals 7-7-10/18 – 49
Newton – 1 (McBride)
Arcanum – 7 (Sharritts 6, Abner 1)