NEWARK – With a 70-19 Little Ten Conference varsity girls basketball defeat of Hiawatha on Thursday, defending champion Newark will take a 7-4 record into the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic.
In Newark’s first tournament, the season-opening Tim Humes Breakout Tournament at Somonauk, the Norsemen lost their first two games to Wheaton Academy and Seneca before recovering to win the last two.
“Our goal is to win our first game,” said Newark coach Brian Holman, whose team will face Illiana Christian on Thursday at Lisle. “If we do that, we may run into Wheaton Academy, and then we’ll see what happens from there.”
Six players scored for Newark as it blew open Thursday’s game in the first quarter, which it ended ahead 24-2. Jasmine Mitchell scored eight points and Kristine Zitt six during the quarter for Newark, which had a 13-5 advantage in rebounds and no turnovers to the Hawks’ eight.
“I think we were seeing each other really well,” Mitchell said. “We were able to get the ball up and down the floor and had some nice fast-break passes that led to easy baskets. On top of that, our posts did a nice job. Kelsea [Zitt] would pass to Kristine [Zitt], or Kristine to Kelsea and create good looks.”
Mitchell had 15 points to lead Newark and Kristine Zitt had 14, but the Norsemen were balanced in many areas.
Ten Newark players scored in the game. Eleven had rebounds, with Jessica Hager’s 10 a team high. Nine players had assists – Kelsea Zitt and Rachel Lape tied for the team lead with three – and 10 had steals, with Kelsea Zitt’s five leading all players.
“We saw each other well,” Holman said, “and we weren’t just seeing well on offense. Defensively, we did a good job of seeing what they were doing, anticipating things and making plays on the ball.”
Newark has won two straight, five of six and seven of nine. It is 4-0 in conference play. To Kristine Zitt, the team is well equipped to avoid the kind of slow start it got at Somonauk when it plays at Lisle.
“Our first tournament, we were a little under-experienced,” she said. “We’ve played a lot since then, and I think we’re bonding a lot better now. We know we can come out and get off to great starts instead of waiting until the second half to come around.”