BROOKVILLE — It’s two games, two career high-scoring games for Elk County Catholic Crusaders 6-foot-6 senior Ryan Newton.
After starting the year with a career-high 23 points in the Crusaders’ season-opening win last week against Johnsonburg, he matched that and then some with 30 points in the Crusaders’ 67-45 District 9 League road win at Brookville Friday night.
Newton and the Crusaders struggled shooting from the floor in the first half — the Crusaders 9-for-24 from the floor, including 2-for-11 from the 3-point line — but Newton erupted for 25 of his points after the break as the Crusaders broke loose from a 21-21 halftime tie and pulled away from the hosts.
“Ryan gets a lot of people shots. Ryan sets a screen, two people go with him. … I think he creates some things for other people,” Crusaders head coach Aaron Straub said. “We have to figure out a way to make that look a little more smooth.
“I’m happy with how hard he’s worked. He’s worked extremely hard.”
Newton added 10 rebounds to complete his double-double. Alex Breindel was the only other Crusader in double figures with 10.
Credit the Crusaders’ defensive pressure to help them pull away from a stubborn Brookville squad. They forced 20 turnovers and ECC took advantage more of that in the second half.
“I think it seemed like defensively we imposed our will a little bit more than we did in the first half, which created some scoring opportunities for us,” Straub said. “We need to create some scoring out of our defense, but we made some shots. In the first half, we didn’t make shots and in the second half we got Ryan more involved.”
Aaron Park led the Raiders with 16 points and seven rebounds. A.J. Lachnicht scored nine points while Nick Keth finished with seven points. The Raiders led by five points early in the second quarter after an 11-8 first-quarter edge.
“I loved what we did the first half,” Raiders head coach Dalton Park said. “I thought we played well with them and did a few things we’ve been working on in practice. They hadn’t been showing up in practice and it showed up this game, as far as offensively. Defensively, the guys were sharp, moving, anticipating and not walking to the ball and were quick. I thought the intensity was matched in the first half.
“I went down with a lot of optimism at halftime and thought we’d come out and continue with that, but we came out and didn’t match their intensity. We threw a couple balls away early. If you don’t set the tone the first two minutes, you’re probably not going to gain that back. What you lose with the momentum, it’s very hard.”
ECC outscored Brookville, 21-10, in the third quarter and started to pull away in a 46-24 second-half advantage.
“We looked like we got into a better flow in the second half,” Straub said. “Brookville is a good basketball team. They had a one-point game with Ridgway with three or four minutes to go and we knew we had to come in and play well. The second half, we did some good things, so I’m pleased with the win here and because they’re putting some real good athletes on the floor and have a good system going. We’re pleased to get out with a win.”
Both teams play Tuesday. The Crusaders (2-0 overall, 1-0 D9 League) host DuBois. The Raiders (2-2, 0-1) travel to Kane.
“They worked hard again and left the floor giving it 100 percent and that’s all I can ask. We couldn’t hang with them,” Park summed up. “Elk is always a really tough game and the kids learned we can play with them in the first half. We’re working on things in practice, getting better every day and trying to improve. I won’t make excuses. They outplayed us with more guys in the second half. We have to either find some kids to step up or get in better shape where we play in the second at the same level we played in the first half.”
Elk County Catholic won the JV game, 49-29.