Newark handles Westerville South in anticipated Central District meeting

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Newark 61, Westerville South 42
It was the type of half Newark boys basketball coach Jeff Quackenbush had waited 10 games for. But with two sterling quarters, Quackenbush also hopes it’s a sign of things to come. Billed as a nonleague matchup between two of the Central District’s top
teams, Newark played lockdown defense and moved the ball as well as it
has all season, blowing past Westerville South 61-42 on Friday.


WESTERVILLE — It was the type of half Newark boys basketball coach Jeff Quackenbush had waited 10 games for.

But with two sterling quarters, Quackenbush also hopes it’s a sign of things to come.

Billed as a nonleague matchup between two of the Central District’s top teams, Newark played lockdown defense and moved the ball as well as it has all season, blowing past Westerville South 61-42 on Friday.

“I thought our kids did a good job,” Quackenbush said. “We worked a lot on our man-to-man defense and our halfcourt offense and both of them worked well. That’s the first game this season that I told them we got some things done this week that really showed in a game. We played well together.

“It’s definitely something to build on. I knew we had the ability to play better than we have been playing.”

Newark moved to 9-2 with the season; South dropped to 7-4.

Newark was the hot team early, running away with the game and putting it away late in the second quarter.

Playing exclusively man-to-man defense, Newark limited South to just 19 percent shooting in the first half.

On the other end, Newark might have been even more impressive. It shot 56 percent in the first two quarters, jumping out to a 34-16 halftime lead.

It scored on a number of backdoor plays, rotated the ball with precision and scored inside at a rapid rate.

It’s certainly the blueprint Quackenbush would like to see for the next two months.

“We created for everybody and made plays,” Avery said. “Everybody was on the same page the whole game and that’s what we wanted to do. We got back in the groove.”

Avery had just six points, but only needed to take eight shots in a balanced effort. He added 14 rebounds and had five of Newark’s 18 assists.

Rahlin Watson scored 12 of his team-high 15 points in the first half and Will McCoy was 6-of-6 from the field and finished with 12 points. Cody Dennison added 10 points and four assists.

With former Ohio State and NBA standout Jim Jackson watching — his son, Travon Jackson, is a freshman and had 10 points — Newark started fast.

Watson scored six straight points and fed McCoy for a layup inside to put Newark up 10-4 in the first three minutes. Watson added two more layups — one on a backdoor cut — and Ryan Queen scored on a floater to put Newark up 20-8 after the first quarter.

The defense held South to just one basket and two points over an eight-minute stretch. In the 16-2 run that put the game away, South missed 11-of-12 shots and had just one offensive rebound.

Newark finished the spurt with a strong sequence as well. Avery stole a pass and fed Watson for a layup on a no-look pass and his pass to Dennison created an easy basket to put Newark up 34-10 with 1:38 remaining in the second.

“We talked all week about being on the same page and right from the beginning, we were just clicking,” McCoy said. “I definitely think it’s a glimpse, but there’s still room to improve.”

Prone to losing big leads on the road this season — Newark lost fourth-quarter leads in losses to Gahanna and Zanesville — Quackenbush told his team simply to win the second half.

It obliged — by a point — but South never got closer than 17 points in the final two quarters.

Newark led by as many as 23 in the third and 24 in the fourth.

Michael Fletcher led South with 11 points, but he and Jackson didn’t have much support. Only one other player — Alex Maze (6) — had more than four points.

South finished just 13-of-50 from the field; Newark shot 48 percent for the game.

“It’s just making the extra pass and we’ve really started to understand that this week,” Quackenbush said. “If you have a good shot, pass it up for a great shot.”

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