Blue Devils hold Reds to 33 percent shooting in Sunday's Section 5 Class B1 final. Anthony Lombardi scores 13 points to lead Newark.
The Newark boys basketball team had to like their chances of pulling the upset against top-seeded Batavia in the Section 5 Class B1 finals.
Only two other top seeds won sectional titles in a postseason littered with upsets. Unfortunately for the Reds, the Blue Devils were well prepared to avoid the pitfalls of some of Section 5’s other favorites.
Senior guard Jalen Smith scored 25 points, including five three-pointers, to lift Batavia to a 58-41 win over Newark on Sunday at the Blue Cross Arena. The Blue Devils defense proved too much for the Reds, as they held Newark to 33 percent shooting for the game.
“We didn’t make baskets,” said Bob Havrilla, Reds head coach. “The shooting was so inconsistent. We didn’t come out and make baskets and that put us down and we were never able to recover.”
Senior forward Anthony Lombardi, who led Newark with 13 points, hit a three-pointer to open the third quarter to the Reds within 37-26. Smith, who was named Tournament MVP, caught fire though to send his team to their fifth sectional title under head coach Buddy Brasky.
Smith hit three-pointers on the next three Batavia possessions to push the lead to 46-31.
“Jalen struggled in the first half, but he is our go-to-guy and our best scorer so we wanted to keep going to him,” Brasky said. “I told him if you get good shots, you are going to hit them. He has that confidence and he knows that he is going to get on a roll.”
After trailing by double digits for most of the first half, Newark made a push late in the third quarter.
Tyler Collins hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 29-19 early in the quarter. A layup by Lombardi cut the deficit to 29-21, but a three-pointer by Blue Devil forward Jeff Redband pushed the lead back to 11.
A three-point play by Justice Fagan extended the lead to 37-23 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” Lombardi said. “We had a lot of jitters. We were all anxious and ready, we were thinking too fast. Batavia was getting some good shots off.”
The Reds struggled to score against the Blue Devils tough man-to-man defense throughout the contest, falling behind 10-0 early in the first quarter.
Newark responded in the second quarter with a 7-0 run right before halftime. A Jaymee Rosser layup cut the Reds deficit to 23-14 with 48 seconds remaining in the first half.
Batavia once again had an answer though, as Fagan drilled a three-pointer to extend the lead to 12 going into halftime.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Havrilla said. “We started out the season by losing to Penn Yan and we didn’t know where we were going to be. All the credit goes to the guys. They improved all year long, and that was the biggest reason why we were here.”