Newton, Poling push Westview past Glencoe
In the Metro League, where every team takes a least one defeat, the key is not letting a loss beat you twice.
Westview took co-conference leader Jesuit deep into the fourth quarter on Jan. 10 but turned the ball over one too many times and capsized in the fourth quarter. A chance to pull into sole possession second place in league went by the wayside in a 63-54 loss that was closer than the final score would indicate.
Such a vanquishing can have lingering effects, but only if a team lets it. And on Friday night, with a big home crowd on hand providing a positive, reassuring backdrop, Kobe Newton, Jack Poling and the rest of the 'Cats put Jesuit behind them.
The turbocharged duo triggered a 16-3 first-quarter lead and combined for 36 points and eight assists in all against Glencoe to get back on the winning side of things at Westview High in a 61-45 win.
"Losing to Jesuit burned a lot, especially the day of and the day after," Newton said. "But I said in the locker room after that the last thing we need to do is start blaming each other and getting down on each other. We came back to practice, worked extremely hard and had a great practice yesterday and it fed into this game. We were able to bounce back quickly."
Credit the Crimson Tide for not mentally checking out in a contest that got away early, but never fully spiraled out of control. Glencoe made a good push to get back into it in the third, slicing what was a 45-22 deficit down to 45-31 thanks to a 9-0 run triggered by seven straight Ruben Gallardo points. After shooting the lights out against Liberty the game before, Glencoe couldn't find the same groove early on and fell into a deep hole against the Cats. Still, for a team that won't be in Metro next year, the Crimson Tide came away with Westview's respect.
"Our kids are really good about battling," Glencoe head coach Josh McInnis said. "This group really likes competing and playing hard and leaving a game the right way. We bought into that in the second half. Westview has some really good shooters. They spaced us out really well and passed the ball well. We needed to adjust a little quicker, slow the tempo down."
Glencoe merely had no counter for Westview's one-two power punch of Poling and Newton, who dominated the first half joining forces for 25 of the Wildcats' 36 points. Newton caught fire early and rode a four three-pointer heater to 14 first-half points. Mired in a slight shooting slump in the beginning stages of Metro, Newton has fine-tuned his stroke and is again firing away with confidence.
"I'm getting back in my rhythm and shooting it with a lot more confidence than I was," Newton said. "Me doing my thing helps Jack get so many open looks, open layups, wide open midrange jumpers."
Poling was a problem on both blocks with his automatic left-handed jump hook. The big man also ran the floor hard and showed off his magnetic hands that inhaled transition passes and put home layups through contact. For a guy who stands at a towering 6-foot-10, Poling was often the first man down the court, sprinting with surprising ease, catching everything that came his way and finishing on the move.
"Coach (Mike Wolf) said (Glencoe) doesn't have the best time getting up and down, so I knew it was going to be a track meet," Poling said. "I knew (the fast break) was going to be there, especially when I saw they only had two guys above the three-point line. That's always been something I like to do, running up and down. Tonight I capitalized on that the most."
Oftentimes it was Newton throwing the hit aheads and outlets to his towering comrade in transition. A junior point guard with keen court vision to couple his accurate outside shooting touch, Newton willingly gave the ball up and rewarded Poling for beating Glencoe repeatedly on the break.
"(Newton) passes a lot more than I thought he was going to, which is always a great thing," Poling said with a laugh. "He knows when I'm going to be there and I know when he's gonna be looking for me. To me, those are free points. Running up and down, shooting a layup isn't hard to me. It's the easiest points we can get as a team."
In the fourth quarter, Newton danced around a Poling ball screen, knifed into the lane and plopped in a floater to give Westview a 47-31 edge. And on the next possession, Poling found Newton on a backdoor cut and bounced a perfect pass to his junior running mate for two, plus the foul. Newton finished off the and-one at the free throw line. Later, Poling polished off a Newton post entry lob pass. Whenever Poling and Newton were on the floor together, Westview was able to extend its lead. They've become dependable springs of offense for the Wildcats, a perimeter-post potion that can play two-man games together or put opponents on their heels individually. Together versus Glencoe's varying halfcourt defenses, Poling and Newton were formidable.
"I know where he likes the ball and where to put it when he's on the run, so he can just go straight up to the rim," Newton said. "Me and him playing a lot together in practice, during the summer, in the preseason helped get our chemistry a little bit tighter. Over the time we've played together that chemistry has grown rapidly."
On a team where plenty of new faces have shown positively like Shasank Bonthala, Eric Anderson and Wayne Jamison, Poling and Newton put their team on their backs for the night and played excellent complimentary basketball. Bonthala made two threes against Glencoe and scored eight points.
In the third quarter, Gallardo weaved inside and spun a sick layup off the window with a little English on the rock to make it 45-24. Then the quick guard lulled the Wildcat defense to sleep with a left-handed hesitation move and blitzed to the cup for a floater. And on the next trip down, Dylan Brauer picked a Wildcat guard's pocket and shuttled a pass to Gallardo on the right wing who swished it from deep. Once one of Glencoe's first guys off the bench, Gallardo has moved into a starting role and began to make a lasting impact.
"As coaches sometimes we just have to get out of (Gallardo's) way, let him pull the ripcord and just go after it," McInnis said. "He's a great kid, a tremendous athlete. There's no medium switch with him. He's our spark, for sure. He's done a great job of being a great teammate and getting after it defensively."
Gallardo led Glencoe with 13 points and Brauer bagged 10 including two three-pointers in the first half. Senior post Matthew Hancock also had 10 points while trying to keep pace with Poling inside. McInnis said Brauer is one of Glencoe's best lacrosse players who's devoting more and more time to basketball.
"You can see his game improving week in and week out," McInnis said. "He's another fire starter for us as well. He attacks the rim really well, does a really good job of being active and pesky defensively."
The Wildcats were able to put together three consecutive stops on six or seven separate occasions of the game against Glencoe, a stat Westview keeps a close eye on to judge its defensive productivity. Also known as "three bangers" Westview made the Crimson Tide suffer through multiple long stretches without a basket thanks to a team defense that was on a string all evening.
"We did a great job of being there for each other," Newton said. "We didn't want to be the man who needed help, but when we did get beat we did a great job of helping each other. We picked up a few charges, which was big for us. We got the bench going and the momentum carried on."
For most of the first half, Glencoe struggled to get anything easy on offense, whether it was breaking free for open outside shots, or converting inside against Poling, Matthew White and Andrew Bear. And once Westview was able to clear the defensive glass, Poling and Newton were able to get out and run from rim-to-rim for buckets.
"It says a lot about our discipline," Poling said. "Not everyone can come down and get three stops in a row. I think we have the discipline to do that, most of the time. Our defense is closer to where we want it to be than when we started. There are still some rotations we're not perfect on, but I'm sure that'll work out quickly."
Eleven different Wildcats scored against Glencoe. Newton led Westview with 19 and Poling had 17. Glencoe's Sam Gruber finished with five points. Zachary Cox ended the game with four. The Crimson Tide are 5-7 overall and 2-3 in Metro while Westview is 7-6 overall and 3-2 in Metro. The Wildcats are currently fourth in league.