NHS boys basketball team finding its groove
After a shaky start to a challenging non-league slate, the Newberg High School boys basketball team is correcting the course near the midway point of its season. The Tigers (5-5) are the winners of four of their past five games and are doing so thanks to a healthy stable of athletes on the court.
Newberg's development in recent weeks has been key as well, according to coach Mark Brown.
"I like the way we're playing," Brown said. "We're healthy with a full roster, and so we can fully commit to the style we want to play. Not having enough bodies every night made for some tough losses early, but we're able to compete hard with a full group."
The Tigers are playing at a fast pace that has been frenetic at times, but the efficiency on offense has improved as the season has progressed. Brown said the team is shooting the ball well and finding open teammates on the fast break, working to limit its turnovers and force plenty on the other end.
Since getting healthy, Newberg has even taken to substituting a new set of five players in the game after the starters have gone for a stretch of four or five minutes. This, Brown said, allows them to wear opposing teams out.
"Regardless of win or lose, it's a fun style of basketball to watch," Brown said. "I'm learning more and more that it's the right way for us to play basketball because we're teaching them to make decisions instead of being robots running an offensive system.
"We've got different guys stepping up every night. We knew that coming into the year and it's a fun style of basketball to coach. The boys are having fun and things are going good."
Newberg's most recent victory – prior to a home game against David Douglas played Tuesday night after press time – was a 65-60 win over Summit. The Storm came in from Bend with one of the better records in the state and left with a loss, which Brown said shows Newberg's growth as a team.
"We were back and forth throughout the game and were able to come out in the second quarter and take control," Brown said. "We got our lead up to nine or 10 in the fourth quarter before they crept back in it. Our pressure just got to them at certain points and that led to the win."
Different players are stepping up on different nights for Newberg, which Brown said he loves. Spreading the wealth and not relying on one or two players to carry the team has been beneficial for its chemistry, he added.
The offensive production is getting better in large part due to the way Newberg is shooting the ball. Brown said they're making the extra pass and limiting turnovers as well, which had been a problem in previous games.
"We're gaining confidence shooting the ball," Brown said. "Our effective field goal percentage on the season is 50 percent, which is crazy. I've never had a team shoot like this and we're averaging at least seven three-pointers a game. That opens up the floor late in the game and gets us opportunities around the rim as well."
Newberg's next game is a road matchup with Roseburg on Friday to finish off its non-league schedule. After that, the Tigers host Century on Jan. 14 to open Pacific Conference play, then travel to Forest Grove a week later before hosting Sherwood on Jan. 24.
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