It is a glorious Saturday morning in Fort Myers but neither team wants to be at this 10:15AM game in the Consolation round. Newton is coming off a heart-breaking loss in OT while Charlotte was given a tough lesson in basketball chemistry.
Chris Cornish, a 6’5 junior at Charlotte, got the scoring started with a cut to the hoop and score. Newton’s 5’11 sophomore Tim Prather answered with a mid-range jumper. After a Charlotte putback, Newton ripped off seven unanswered points, six on back-to-back threes from 6’4 junior Jabez Jenkins. With just over four minutes to go, Newton was up 9-4. A Cornish jam in transition stopped the Charlotte slide. The Tarpons would keep the margin to one possession for the remainder of the first quarter until Newton’s 6’5 senior David Freeman knocked down a three to end the scoring for the period. After one, Newton led by five, 20-15.
Newton hit a quick three to open the second quarter and from there it was off to the races. Charlotte would have ball security issues as they turned it over on five of their first seven possessions in the period. Newton took advantage, scoring ten straight points to double up the score, 30-15, with 5:30 left in the half. Charlotte finally righted the ship and 6’6 senior John Gamble heated up for the Tarpons, scoring eight of the team’s twelve points in the second. However, Newton was still up double-digits at the break, 39-27.
The teams traded two-point baskets to begin the third quarter. At that point, the drought that had plagued Charlotte at the start of the second quarter transferred to Newton. The Tarpons cobbled together an 8-0 run to get back to within four at 41-37 with 3:31 left in the period. They didn’t have time to enjoy the fruits of their success as Newton finished the quarter with an 11-5 run, pushing their advantage back to double-digits, 52-42, with one quarter remaining in the contest.
The Newton run continued well into the fourth quarter. A 9-3 spurt gave Newton a 61-45 advantage with 5:33 to play. That would prove to be too big of a hill to climb for Charlotte and Newton would advance to the consolation semis by the score of 70-52.
Newton was paced by Jenkins with 14 points while 6’6 junior Dwight Brown added 10 points.
Gamble led Charlotte with 23 points while Cornish added 11 points.