Pressure off, Norsemen having fun in finals
Updated: March 23, 2011 3:48PM
As far as the Newark Norsemen are concerned, the second they stepped onto the court at the Peoria Civic Center, the pressure was off.
All they wanted to do was have fun and put on a show for the closeknit Newark community.
"I was actually more nervous during the super-sectional because we didn't want to fall for a third straight year," Norsemen guard Kyle Anderson said. "We came here wanting to have fun and enjoy this whole experience and hopefully win a state title."
Newark is one game away from doing just that as they easily defeated Deer Creek-Mackinaw 52-32 on Friday. Anderson led the Norsemen with 17 points and had six assists and five rebounds in the game. During Anderson's tenure at Newark, the team has consistently gotten better each year. In his freshman season the team went 16-12. Newark is 32-1 this season, the best record in school history. This is the third straight 20-plus win season for the Norsemen.
"The guys really know each other this year and we have really developed a chemistry with one another. Last year we were still getting to know each other. That is not the case this year," Anderson said.
The Norsemen did it with the defense again as they held West Central's leading scorer, Matt Krause, to just seven points. Krause averaged just over 14 points per game during the regular season.
John Avery, another senior, added 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the semifinal victory.
Newark's lone loss this season came to Rockford Christian, a Class 2A squad that is undefeated this season (31-0). The Royal Lions were set to play later Friday night in the first 2A semifinal game.
"I couldn't be more excited and proud of our guys. As long as you are here, you might as well win it," Norsemen coach Rick Tollefson said. "We had been playing really, really well and our effort has been outstanding. It is an honor to be here and coach these kids."
Newark plays West Central at 2 p.m. on Saturday for the state championship.