This is the final “challenge round” game featuring a pair of teams that are looking for redemption after dropping a pair of games here in Fort Myers.
Newman got on top quickly after a mid-range jumper from Chris Lockett and a three from Canin Jefferson to go up 5-0. Charlotte finally got on the board with a free throw from John Gamble. Todd Jones of Newman extended its lead with a dunk in transition but a driving score from D.J. Woods and a long two from Gamble brought Charlotte back to within two at 7-5 with 5:33 left to play in the period. Newman extended their lead with a putback by Jones a free throw from Gabe Parnes and a bucket inside from Lockett. Charlotte now found itself down seven at 12-5 with 2:33 to play. That margin would remain until Gamble beat the buzzer with a three for Charlotte to make the score 16-12 in favor of Newman after one quarter of play.
Charlotte chipped away at the lead for much of the second quarter. Down seven, 24-17, they went on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 24-24, highlighted by a three from Logan Clauser. Jefferson of Newman responded with a three but Clauser and Woods of Charlotte hit back-to-back threes to give the Tarpons a 30-27 lead with 2:38 left to play in the quarter. Now it was Newman’s turn to battle uphill. With 1:04 to go they tied the game at 33-33 then took the lead with a stick back from Austin Montgomery. Charlotte was unable to counter and at the break Newman led 35-33.
Charlotte was unable to take the lead in the third quarter. They got as close as 43-41 with 3:15 left in the period but a pair of baskets by Newman’s Will Randle extended their lead to 47-41 with 1:29 to go in the period. Clauser cut that in half with a three to beat the horn and with one period left to play, Newman was up only three, 49-46.
A bucket by Lockett put Newman back up by five but a three from Clauser brought Charlotte to within two at 51-49. Charlotte was able to keep Newman from pulling away but every Charlotte charge was met with a basket by Newman to keep the Tarpons at bay. Charlotte got to within two, 61-59, after a three from Woods but Jefferson hit a three for Newman to keep it a two possession game. Clauser scored late in transition but Newman was able to hold on and win by three 64-61.
Newman was led by Jefferson with 28 points while Lockett finished with 12 points.
Charlotte got 20 points from Clauser and 17 points from Gamble.