EARLVILLE – There’s one kind of tired a basketball team feels when it’s late in the season and the schedule demands it play a lot of games against good teams in a short amount of time.
And there’s another kind of tired a team feels when it’s short on bodies and the opposing team, the one that likes to run, isn’t.
The result when those teams meet isn’t likely to be pretty, not matter how spunky the underdog team is.
The Newark Norsemen – in this case the former of the two, coming off three games against 20-win clubs – overcame their fatigue to race to an 18-6 first quarter lead and increased it to as many as 18 before the latter, in this case Earlville, sliced it to single digits at the half.
But as the second half unfolded, the Red Raiders’ short bench took a toll and the Norsemen pulled away for a 59-35 Little Ten Conference victory Monday night.
Kiara Wesseh led the way for Newark (20-7 overall, 7-1 LTC) with 15 points, nine steals, nine assists and six rebounds. Despite 18 points from Nevaeh Sansone and 10 from Mady Olson, Earlville (12-17, 4-4) had only four players score.
Despite coach Glenn Clausel’s misgivings about his team, Newark was balanced in the scoring column. Brooklyn Hatteberg scored 12 points, and added seven rebounds and five steals, while Stephanie Snyder added 12 points, Tess Carlson 10 points and Emily DiClementi seven points and five steals.
Danica Peshia had four rebounds and five steals for the Norsemen.
“We really do struggle to score. We’re not a good offensive team, and it’s pretty late in the year,” Clausel said. “We were getting some steals off our press early for some easy ones, then we kind of dozed off for a while. But we came back strong in the second half, probably wore them down in the second half because they don’t have a lot of substitutes and got away from them a little bit.
“But give Earlville credit. They’re a scrappy bunch. But our depth was a factor tonight. Now all we have to do is get one of them to make a layup. That’s where our struggle lies.”
A couple of 3-pointers by Carlson and four points each from Wesseh and Hatteberg led the Norsemen to that big first-half lead before Olson scored nine points in the second period to cut the home deficit to 28-19.
However, turnovers against Newark’s press and cold shooting left the Red Raiders with only six field goals in the second half, three of those by Sansone.
“That stretch at the end of the half was nice,” Earlville coach Brandon Skolek said. “I remember looking at the scoreboard and being a little surprised because it seemed so chaotic because we were turning the ball over, but we were also capitalizing when we weren’t and on the turnovers we were getting. It seemed like more separation than there was, but we played really hard and I’m proud of them.
“They just wore us down in the second half. We’ve had the same eight girls all season and their heart is huge. But in games that are all on, when there’s a lot of [defensive] pressure both ways, eventually it slows us down. Tonight it bit us in the fourth quarter.”
The Norsemen will finish the regular season on the road at Putnam County on Wednesday and at Mendota on Thursday before heading into regional play against Saturday’s St. Bede/DePue winner at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Granville.
Earlville, which meets LaMoille/Ohio in its LTC finale at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, will face the Dwight Regional host Trojans in a play-in game at 10 a.m. Saturday.