The game between the Newman Comets and the St. Mel Knights was the classic David versus Goliath matchup. The St. Mel squad were tall, explosive, and athletically gifted.The St. Mel squad was extremely talented and have blown out all the competition in their previous match ups. In their sectional championship they beat Chicago Douglass by 39 points. Many of the St. Mel players were above the height of 6'2 and Taeyon Neal came in at a towering 6'10. The Newman Comets did have Devon House who stands at 6'7, but only had a few other players that stood above 6'1. However, this did not intimidate the Comets and showed us all that size isn't everything in the game of basketball.
House and Neal battled in the post repeatedly with the Sophomore House, who was giving up three inches to Neal, won consistently with some spectacular moves that overwhelmed the taller Neal. House led the Comets with 26 points and 13 rebounds. However, Tyriel Nelson and Deion Jackson of the Knights were able to take advantage in the paint with plays that left you in awe and with nothing to say other than wow. Nelson and Jackson combined for 26 points, but no shot was bigger than Eric Jordan's three that tied the game at 60 late in the fourth quarter.
With the Comets being at a disadvantage in the size department they made up for it with great outside shooting. Cade Gorzny was deadly from behind the arc going 5 for 8 and ended the game with 18 points. As a team the Comets were 10 for 18 from three. This gave the Comets an incredible shooting percentage of 55% from three compared to 23.5% for the Knights.
With the game tied late in the fourth quarter the Comets were looking to take the lead when Cade Gorzny fired a deep three that was blocked, but Gorzny was able to grab the loose ball and pass the ball to House. House drove the lane and was just off the mark with his runner and the Senior Travis Williams grabbed the rebound and was fouled by the Knights. Williams was held scoreless in the first half, but found his rhythm in the second half with big scores. For Williams this was the second game in a row that he found himself in the biggest moment of the season and the biggest moment of his career. With the game on the game on the line Williams sank his first free-throw to take the lead 61-60 and his 11th and biggest point of the season. Williams then missed his second free-throw and the Knights immediately took a time out to preserve as much time as possible. With 1.4 seconds left the Knights inbounded the ball to half-court and Nelson fired a shot that was off the mark to give the Comets the win.
This is the first time the Newman Comets have made it to state and were 0-2 in there last super-sectional matchups. The Comets have been battle test with an overtime win against Eastland in the regional semifinals and a thrilling three-point victory over a tough East Dubuque in the sectional championship. The quest for the elusive state title continues for the Comets this Friday with a battle with the Annawan Braves at the Carver Arena in Peoria. Game time will be at 11:15am and will be broadcast on our sister station 102.7 WZZT and our Facebook page.