2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/10/2018 5:28 PM

Newark denies Aurora Christian in regional championship game

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Aurora Christian picked a bad day for its recent hot shooting to turn cold.

The Eagles missed their first 10 shots from the 3-point arc and finished just 4 for 24 in the championship game of the Class 1A Aurora Christian regional Saturday afternoon. If just a couple more would have dropped it could have been a different story instead of a second loss to Newark this season, this one 43-40.

"A lot of open looks," Aurora Christian coach Burney Wilkie said. "We did not shoot the ball well tonight at all. Alex (Fry) and Tori (Henning) have been red-hot. Couldn't get anything to fall for us tonight."

Newark (22-6) advances to the Hinckley-Big Rock sectional Tuesday to play Kewanee Wethersfield. Aurora Christian ends its season at 19-11.

​The Eagles never led in the game but were closer throughout than the first meeting with Newark, a 37-26 loss.

Newark jumped to an early 6-2 lead but Aurora Christian pulled even on Megan Hart's putback. Sarah Wert's jumper tied the game at 8 before Newark opened its biggest lead of the first half at 19-13 on Riane Tomsa's 3-point basket.

After Henning's corner 3 ended the Eagles' first-half drought, Fry swished a 3-pointer to draw the Eagles within 21-18, and Aurora Christian battled to a 21-21 halftime tie on Hart's free throw and a basket by Dannielle Lopez.

The turning point came at the start of the third quarter, a quick 8-0 Newark run that forced the Eagles to play catch-up the rest of the game. Henning tried, scoring all 8 of Aurora Christian's points in the third quarter to stay within 37-29.

​"I told the girls it would be an up-and-down battle and we'd have to sustain their runs and I thought we did that for the most part," Newark coach Barb Scott said. "I thought our third quarter was big. I'm pretty thrilled to get this one."

​Aurora Christian forced turnovers on the first three possessions of the fourth quarter but came up empty each time on its own end. Trailing 39-29, the Eagles mounted one last surge, starting with a Hart basket, a jumper by Lauren Richert and Henning's 3-point play to pull within 41-36 with 1:36 left.

Newark missed two straight front ends of 1-and-1s, and Hart's 2 free throws with 15 seconds left made it 41-38. Jocelyn Mitchell's 2 free throws with :14.3 remaining gave Newark the breathing room it needed when Lopez scored inside in the final seconds for the Eagles.

Aurora Christian made just 16 of 52 shots from the field (30.7 percent) and turned the ball over 17 times.

"We didn't get things going offensively the way I thought we would," Wilkie said. "We really struggled at the offensive end. I felt we defended well enough to win. One really bad run in the third quarter kind of sunk us."

Evie Martin paced a balanced Newark attack with 11 points. Eight different players scored.

Henning led all scorers with 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Lopez had 6 points, Hart finished with 5 points and 9 rebounds, and Fry -- a senior who was part of a program-best 73 wins in the last 4 years -- had 5 points.

"This senior class has really helped us turn a corner as a program," Wilkie said. "I can't thank these seniors enough. We've got a really good junior class coming back and I know those kids will come back hungry."

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