NEWARK — During an evening that honored former Newark High School basketball great Theresa (Larson) Jensen (2000-04, 1,169 points) and ushered her into the NHS Sports Hall of Fame as only the sixth individual female member, the current Norsemen boys team paid homage to Jensen by following the ceremony with a 69-47, Little Ten Conference victory over Hinckley-Big Rock here Friday night n Newark.
The Norsemen saw the return of senior point guard Connor Swanson, and after a five-game hiatus Swanson recorded a team-best 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds that helped up his team's overall record to 15-4 and a perfect 5-0 so far in LTC play.
Senior Brett Myre followed with 17 tallies and seven boards, while senior Corey Jacobson added 12 markers ahead of junior Nate Christian's nine points as Newark shot a sparkling 29 of 60 (48 percent) from the floor and also outrebounded the Royals 34-22 throughout an impressive win on a special night.
"It was a nice atmosphere here this evening, and I thought we did a nice job in taking what they gave us after they played man defense, which allowed us great opportunities to get to the hole instead of when a team is packed in a zone against us," said veteran NHS coach Rick Tollefson. "Our defense was really poor in the first half, but after that we did a much better job.
"Overall it was a good win against an HBR team that came in here tonight and competed well."
The Royals (10-9, 2-2) received a game-high 23 points from senior Tate Sanderson, including 13 of 19 shooting off the free-throw line. Senior Brian Bohannon added 13 tallies.
But ultimately the visitors couldn't contend with the home team's overall offensive firepower and excellence on the boards.
"We know it's always tough to play here in Newark, and I was happy with how we scratched away and played tough in the first half," said HBR coach Seth Sanderson. "But in the third quarter they really took it to us, got the lead into double digits, and we could never recover from there. Newark's got a fine ballclub, and they certainly proved that tonight."
Myre scored eight points in the first quarter, including a 15-foot right-wing deuce at the buzzer that put Newark ahead 17-10.
"Early on we started to run our regular offense that involves some curl cuts, and there were open lanes to the basket for me at times even though I was able to knock down some outside shots as well," Myre said. "It was good to have Swanny (Swanson) back tonight, because he helps so much with our defensive pressure and our offensive speed as well as overall depth. He played great tonight."
After only two points in the first quarter, Swanson came alive in the second with 10 markers giving him 12 at the break with Newark ahead 36-28.
"I wanted to keep things fast, because I like a fast-paced game," Swanson said. "In the second quarter we got some turnovers, and I was able to get some run-outs for baskets. We didn't play good defense in the first half, but we still had a decent lead at halftime."
The Norsemen then connected on 9 of 17 shots in the third quarter as Newark outscored HBR 21-10 to lead 57-38 entering the final frame.
There, Jacobson netted five in the fourth quarter including a left-baseline 3-ball at 6:25 and 3 of 4 free throws that gave the Norsemen their biggest lead at 67-40 before the benches emptied.
"This was a really great win for us tonight where I thought we played excellent team basketball," Swanson said. "Hopefully we'll keep it going from here."
Newark 69, Hinckley-Big Rock 47
(Key: FG FT-FTA TP)
HBR (47) — Brown 2 0-0 4, Pickert 0 1-2 1, Hermann 0 0-0 0, Talon 0 0-0 0, Cleaveland 0 0-0 0, Scheller 0 1-2 1, Hintzsche 0 0-0 0, Sanderson 5 13-19 23, Bohannon 6 1-2 13, Swanson 1 0-0 3, Savitski 1 0-0 2. Totals 15-40 17-25 47.
NEWARK (69) — Slivka 3 0-2 7, Jacobson 3 4-6 12, Myre 8 0-0 17, Swanson 10 0-1 20, Christian 3 2-3 9, Tollefson 0 0-0 0, Kunkel 0 0-0 0, Fernandez 1 0-0 2, Brown 1 0-0 2. Totals 29-60 6-12 69.
HBR (10-9, 2-2) 10 18 10 9 — 47
Newark (15-4, 5-0) 17 19 21 12 — 69
3-point goals – HBR 1-9 (Swanson); Newark 5-21 (Jacobson 2, Slivka, Myre, Christian). Rebounds – HBR 22 (Brown 6, Bohannon 6); Newark 34 (Swanson 10, Myre 7, Brown 5). Turnovers – HBR 14; Newark 10. Totals fouls (none fouled out) – HBR 11; Newark 18.