Eastern’s senior quarterback didn’t get an opportunity to complete many meaningful passes during the 2014 football season.
But the Musketeer signal caller delivered what could have been the game-winning pass in his team’s 61-53 win over Borden Tuesday (Nov. 25).
After scoring a basket in the paint with 3:10 remaining in the game that gave EHS a 52-50 lead, Roberts delivered a pass to Grant Newcomb to extend Eastern’s lead to four, 54-50.
At that point, the Musketeers pulled away.
The win snapped Eastern’s six-game losing streak against their rivals dating back to the 2011-12 season.
“I was real proud of the kids tonight,” said Musketeer Head Coach Scott Newcomb. “I thought they worked hard and found a way to get through the adjustments.”
The adjustments Newcomb is talking about is a new point of emphasis by the Indiana High School Athletic Association to call more fouls that limit the offensive players’ movements.
That emphasis left both teams battling foul trouble.
“Those are the new rules, I don’t like them, but the kids are going to have to adjust and learn to play more with their feet,” Newcomb said.
Musketeer senior Grant Newcomb, who finished with a game-high 25 points, including four of four from the free throw line in the final quarter had previously been 0-4 in games against the Braves.
“It felt great to beat them, I hadn’t won in two years against them entering my junior year, so it’s good to get this one,” Grant Newcomb said.
Roberts basket and assist might have gave EHS the final push they needed, but a crucial series of events took place with just under five minutes remaining.
The Musketeers led 46-42, but Borden pulled to within two off a tough layup by junior Caleb Hart.
After hitting the basket it looked as if he clapped in an Eastern players’ face and was whistled for a technical foul for taunting.
Newcomb hit the two technical free throws and the Musketeers got the ball back and took advantage when Jessie Murphy hit a basket in the lane stretching the margin to six, 50-44.
In addition to a four-point swing, Hart’s technical counted as his fifth personal foul and he was out of the game during the final 4:47.
Scott Newcomb said it felt like that play helped to slow some of the momentum Borden had gained.
“After he scored he seemed to have clapped in one of our players’ faces and it was fortunate for us, because it helped change the momentum a little bit,” he said.
It might have slowed the momentum, but Borden was not done fighting.
Brandon Thompson scored a basket for the Braves and Noah Hart scored two on an offensive put-back trimming Eastern’s margin back to two, 50-48.
After a Musketeer turnover, Nathan Bachman scored two and got fouled with 3:35 remaining. He missed the and-one and that set up Roberts’ basket and assist.
Borden continued to fight, but each time they made a run, Eastern had an answer.
“I told the kids, ‘Borden made a run, they have all the excitement, so what are we about? Are we going to wilt, or are we going to find a way to get it done?’” Newcomb said. “From that point on we took off and did a good job.”
Eastern (1-0) gets a week off to prepare for their next game, a Dec. 2 showdown at home against Scottsburg. (Results from that game were not available at press time).
Borden played Shoals on Saturday and will be back in action at home Friday against Lanesville.
Borden: Bachman 15, Franklin 2, Gray 8, Caleb Hart 15, Thompson 5, Stonecipher 2, Noah Hart 4.
Eastern: Newcomb 27, McDaniel 6, Roberts 4, Murphy 13, Doebler 10, Emmert 1.
3-pt fieldgoals: Borden (4) Bachman 2, Thompson 2; Eastern (5) Newcomb 5.
Statistical highlights (stats are unofficial)
EHS: Newcomb was 5 of 7 from beyond the three-point arc.
McDaniel and Roberts did not play last year for EHS and made an immediate impact.
McDaniel scored six points and grabbed six rebounds.
Roberts had four points and four rebounds.
McDaniel was one of the top cross country runners for EHS this fall and Roberts was the starting quarterback for the EHS football team.
Head Coach Scott Newcomb said both are athletes and are welcome additions to the team.
Alex Doebler scored 10 points, but had a busy night stuffing stats. He had five rebounds and five steals in Eastern’s win.
Borden: Noah Hart was a driving force in Borden’s junior varsity win over Eastern and scored four points and had two rebounds, all of which came at crucial points of the game.
Gray had eight points, but led everyone with 10 rebounds in the game.
Bachman and Hart scored 15 points each for the Braves.