by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
New Hope pulled away from Athens in the final minutes of Circleville’s Horizon Holiday Classic Friday to finish 2022 with a 56-41 win.
“This was an important win tonight,” New Hope coach Shane Roese said. “For us to face that adversity from Wednesday (a 61-58 loss to Westfall) and to come back tonight and play against a rugged team like that. To get to the first of the year at 6-2, I’m really happy with what we’ve been able to do.
“We’re starting to gel as a team. I think we’re starting to figure out who we are and what our identity is.”
The Statesmen had scored the final seven points of the first quarter to take a 14-12 lead and they never trailed the Bulldogs again in the game. But every time New Hope tried to pull away, Athens would close the gap again until midway through the fourth quarter.
“I felt that both teams – for some reason – got comfortable in a half court setting,” Roese said of the second half. “We got into a half court battle. They played zone against us, trying to slow us down. It was a slow-paced game. I challenged our guys there with about four or five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and said we’re going to go man.”
That change of pace favored the Statesmen as they outscored Athens 13-4 in the final four minutes of the game.
“We made a run right there,” Roese said. “It started with our defensive pressure with (Andrew) Swank and Hunter Cavanaugh who made some things happen, we got some deflections and we made some buckets out of that.”
Lane Bruning led New Hope with 16 points and nine rebounds While Clayton Rhyne had 15 points.
New Hope got a lift off the bench from Zander Rink who had eight points and eight rebounds. Cavanaugh added eight points and Sank had seven points and grabbed six rebounds.
Nathan Shadik led Athens with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Athens finished with a 36-35 rebounding edge on a night where there were plenty of rebounding opportunities as the teams combined for 44 missed shots in the first half.
“On Wednesday night, both teams had up and down games. We both just were spent from that, trying to get our legs underneath us and neither one of us could find our range,” Roese said. “I was really pleased, I felt our transition game kept us in it. I felt like if we could have made some layups, we could have been up a decent amount at half.”
New Hope (6-2) comes back in the new year hosting Wellington Tuesday and Horizon Science Academy on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (2-6) will be home Tuesday hosting Amanda-Clearcreek.
New Hope 56, Athens 41
Athens — Landon Wheatley 1-0-2, Nathan Shadik 6-6-18, Levi Neal 4-0-12, Easton Nuzum 1-0-3, Luke Mullins 2-0-4, Zachariah Mullins 1-0-2. Three-point goals — Neal (4), Nuzum. Total — 15-50 6-9 41.
New Hope — Hunter Cavanaugh 3-0-8, Andrew Swank 3-1-7, Clayton Rhyne 3-7-15, Xander Rink 4-0-8, Ethan Cook 1-0-2, Lane Bruning 5-4-16. Three-point goals — Cavanaugh (2), Rhyne (2), Bruning (2). Total — 19-49 12-21 56.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Athens 12 7 16 6 41
New Hope 14 11 13 18 56