Newark Memorial High worked its second-half magic one more time Saturday night as the Cougars extended their basketball season at least one more game, and it will be at home.
Newark broke open the second-round Northern California Tournament Division II game with a 28-point third quarter when the Cougars’ game-long full-court press took full effect, as it as so many times in the past, and they rolled to a 75-64 victory over visiting Bella Vista (26-6) from Fair Oaks near Sacramento.
The balanced Cougars’ attack proved too much for the Broncos. Senior Kenneth Jones led the way with 15 points, sophomore Joey Frenchwood netted 13 points, and seniors Casey Norris and Yussuf Farouqi each added 11 points, giving Newark four scorers in double figures. Nine players in all scored.
K.J. Logue and Ahmad Smith shared game-high honors, each scoring 20 points for Bella Vista.
“We don’t see these teams all that much,” said Newark coach Craig Ashmore. “They are just out of section. They play great teams in their section, but it is a little bit different style.”
Few teams, no matter what their section, put opponents through the wringer the way the Cougars do.
“We’re a second quarter and on team and that may be because we play nine guys where other teams play six,” Ashmore said. “We’ve been blessed the last 12 years (to have that kind of depth), plus those six through nine players are just about as good (as the starters).”
Newark (27-4) led by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter. They will host Serra High, which beat Las Lomas High, 64-43. The semifinal game starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The Cougars are two wins away from reaching the state championship game for the third time since 2000 and one victory away from advancing to the NorCal finals next Saturday in Sacramento.
Jones paced the Cougars as much as anybody in the second half, but the points and the steals were spread around.
“Joey (Frenchwood) hit two layups in a row there,” Ashmore said, “and K.J. (Jones) was taking it to the hole all night and had a real nice game.”
“Yeah, if one of us is being clamped on and getting a lot of attention, we always have another threat,” Jones said. “That’s how we like to run our team.”
There are many good teams that use a full-court press extensively but few with the success against other very good teams like the Cougars.
“We have good chemistry,” Jones said. “We know our spots, and we know our strengths on defense, and we make the other team go to our strengths.”
Senior Paramvir “Palm” Singh, who had five points, said, “Basically we press the whole game, and they (the other team) get tired.”
Bella Vista’s coach, Dave Gonzalez, came away impressed by the Cougars.
“We were 26-5, and they were the best team we played this year,” Gonzalez said, “and you expect that at this stage.”
The Cougars, he said, are one of those teams that “just have another gear.”
“We kind of knew that and we talked about it, but it’s tough to prepare for them,” Bella Vista’s Gonzalez added. “They have good, physical kids. They know their system, they’ve been successful, and they buy in.”
Yes, the Cougars still got their mojo working, with the next challenge coming Tuesday night.