NEWTON, NJ—The Newton High School Boys Basketball team took their first ever Sectional Title under their belts on Tuesday, when they won over Westwood 67-73 on Newton’s home court in double-overtime.
In a game that will be remembered for years to come for its intense playing and heart stopping moves, the Braves, and especially the seniors, will never forget the shots and players who played their hearts out to make it possible.
“It was a great game,” said Head Coach, Dirk Kelly. “They earned it. They kept fighting until the last seconds and they were able to pull it out. It was a game where nine guys contributed and that was the difference on defense.”
Junior Jake Tarabokija, who started on the bench for the Braves, ended the game as the MVP for Newton.
Tarabokija, who had 15 points throughout the game, made the most memorable shot of the game, a half-court 3-pointer at the buzzer of regulation play, to force the game into overtime with a score tied at 51.
“I’m stunned about it still,” laughed Tarabokija after the game. “I’m really lucky that it went in, because if it didn’t go in, we would have been in a bad situation.”
Seniors Charlie Maker and Jason Heter were stunned as well by Tarabokija’s shot, but could not have been more proud of their teammate.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I’ve taken a couple of those shots myself,” said Maker.
“I just put my hands above my head,” said Heter, “I just thought to myself, ‘ok round two, here we go’.”
Heter was the lead scorer for the game, contributing 25 points, making two 3-pointers, tying with Maker for six 2-pointers and leading with seven foul shots.
Maker, who fouled out before the first overtime period was played, contributed 14 points in the Braves’ victory over Westwood, making two foul shots along with his six 2-pointers.
Another Brave who helped in the victory was senior Collin Kelly, who made a free throw with ten seconds left in the first overtime period to give Newton the lead at 61-59.
Unfortunately for the Braves, Westwood player Tyler Liddy, who had 19 points, raced down court to sink a two pointer and force the game into double overtime.
Tarabokija was not done after his amazing half-court shot however. He sunk another 3-pointer to give Newton the lead they needed to stay ahead for good right in the beginning of the double-overtime period.
Heter contributed a layup for two points. Hunter Grave de Peralta, who, with a pair of free throws, helped seal the victory for Newton.
Thomas Salomon and Kelly each contributed six points in the victory. Luke Young, Jaiden Elliot and Grave de Peralta each added two points to the score.
“We played with heart tonight and that’s why we got the win,” said Tarabokija.
“It was a great win,” said Heter, “Not just for the team, but for the community too. The guys in the stands who played here recently, they know, we did it for them, we did it for us, for this school, for Dirk, it’s his first one, and we get our name up on that banner now. It’s great”
Maker, who will be graduating in June of 2017, along with Heter, Kelly, and Grave de Peralta said “This feeling is indescribable. It’s great to know that anyone on the team can pick it up when we leave here.”
The Newton High School Boys Basketball team will continue on in the 2017 NJSIAA Group 2 Championship tournament, taking on Westside in round one at West Orange High School on Thursday, February 9. Tip off for the game will be at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the doors of the West Orange gymnasium.