New England shreds No. 8 New Town
NEW ENGLAND -- The New England boys basketball team picked quite a way to bounce back from a stinging loss to one of its biggest rivals.
The Tigers became the first team this season to defeat No. 8-ranked New Town -- and they did so in convincing fashion, claiming a 66-48 victory Friday night at the New England High School gymnasium, a venue referred to as the Tiger Den.
"We think we can come out and compete with just about anyone," New England head coach Luke Powers said. "We also think we play pretty well here at home. It's going to be pretty hard to come into the old Tiger Den and knock us off -- not that someone isn't capable of doing it. At the same time, we think we have a pretty darn good basketball team whether we have three losses or not."
New England (7-3) had a little extra incentive to defeat the Eagles (7-1) after coming off a 68-66 District 13 loss to Mott-Regent on Tuesday night -- a game so close Tigers senior forward Kaine Hanson's three-quarter court heave went in and out of the basket as time expired in regulation.
"We didn't want to drop two in a row, so we had to pick it up," Hanson said.
He and the rest of the New England seniors were at the top of their game.
Hanson scored a game-high 20 points and had seven rebounds while point guard Clarence Binstock had 16 points and nine assists. Nick Wolf scored 12 points and Devin Plaggemeyer added 10 points.
The game was close throughout until foul trouble caught up with New Town in the fourth quarter and New England started hitting its free throws, something it struggled with against Mott-Regent and early against the Eagles.
After going 4 of 10 from the line in the first three quarters, the Tigers found themselves in the bonus just 29 seconds into the fourth quarter and made their free trips to the line count.
The Tigers made 14 of 22 free throws in the fourth, including seven straight during a 13-0 run over a 2-minute span that put them ahead 57-39 and all but closed the book on the Eagles.
"Our offensive flow wasn't the best," New Town head coach Chuck Hunter said. "When we started to stand and not run through our sets, you could tell we struggled."
Preston Smith, an ultra-athletic 6-foot-3 senior guard, was the lone standout for New Town. He had 16 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals.
"He's such a great player, it's hard to contain him," Hanson said. "We said if we can just contain everyone else, we had to make him beat us."
While New England felt it had one player to stop, New Town couldn't contain the Tigers' balanced effort.
The Tigers used nifty back-door layups fed to Hanson by Binstock -- four to be exact -- along with Plaggemeyer's put-back shots in the post, Wolf's smooth jumpers and Binstock's three 3-pointers to gain the upper hand.
"Everybody knows where the open spot is, we're just finding it and hitting the shots right now," Binstock said.
New England led 27-23 at halftime after Wolf buried a jumper from the left corner with 3 seconds left.
Even junior Levi Hollinger got into the act, picking up the team's offensive intensity in the third quarter as New England stretched its lead to 42-35. He finished with seven points and was one of three Tigers with three steals.
"We started out a little bit tense," Powers said. "As we got into a flow of the game, we started believing in ourselves and things went just fine."
NT 9 23 35 48
NE 8 27 42 66
NT: Preston Smith 16, Nelson White Tail 10, Myles Young Wolf 9, Wayne Fox 7, Danny Wells 4, Camron Grady 2.
NE: Kaine Hanson 20, Clarence Binstock 16, Nick Wolf 12, Devin Plaggemeyer 10, Levi Hollinger 7, Austin Fitterer 1.
3-pointers: NT 3 (Young Wolf 2, Fox 1), NE 4 (Binstock 3, Hanson 1). Free throws: NT 7-11, NE 18-32. Total fouls: NT 22, NE 11. Fouled out: NT, Grady. Rebounds: NT 31 (Smith 12), NE 21 (Hanson 7). Records: NT 8-1, NE 7-3.