NEWPORT — For three quarters, the Newport boys basketball team looked like a team waiting to break out.
But against a Marshfield team, which has only lost twice on the season, Tuesday’s game was a measuring stick game for the Cubs, especially without one of their best players — Fredy Hidalgo.
Although the Cubs lost 68-53 behind a seven-point quarter, where the Cubs were outscored 17-7, there is much to be excited about in terms of the Cubs’ prospects this season.
“I think the first half we did a pretty nice job keeping up with Marshfield, give credit to them, they are a very strong team for 4A,” Newport head coach Peter Ellingsen said. “I think we executed OK in our zone offense set in the first half, and we came out really flat in the third. I think that really made the difference, and by that time it was just a shootout we couldn’t recover from.”
Six different Cubs reached the scoresheet Tuesday, Jan. 7, but Bryan Tapia led all scorers with 17 points.
Tapia hit five three-point shots — two in the first, two in the second and one in the fourth quarter. His ability to knock down shots with a hand in his face allowed the Cubs to keep up with the Pirates offensively, and without Hidalgo, the dead-eye shooter had to carry the load.
“Bryan has literally some of the best range I’ve seen, and I have gotten the privilege to coach him. It’s amazing that he has the range that he does, and teams really have to scout for him and plan for him,” Ellingsen said. “I really have faith and belief in Bryan doing what he can do from wherever he steps onto the court.
“I just want him to make sure that we use that to our advantage, but also facilitate to everyone else because if we can get everyone else involved too, then it will help Bryan become an even more dynamic player that he is.”
In the first quarter, the Cubs and Pirates were locked into a back and forth affair. Newport scored 15 points in the first, behind six from Tapia, five from Payton Cunningham and four from Kaden Bruns.
The Cubs came out firing on all cylinders, scoring five points to go up 5-0 early in the contest. Bruns and Tapia combined to lead the Cubs on an eight-point run after the Pirates had gone on a 5-0 run to counter Newport early.
Bruns’ physicality and energy allowed him to take it to the Marshfield interior defense, while Tapia relied on the deep ball.
He hit back-to-back triples in the first quarter, pushing Newport’s lead from 9-5 to 15-5 within seconds.
Marshfield scored 17 in each quarter of the game, but their hot start early seemed to set their path for the rest of the game.
Sophomore Mason Ainsworth fueled the Pirates from the beginning. The slim-build guard showed that often looks can be deceiving. Ainsworth attacked the paint, passing the ball out when need be, but his ability to stretch the floor caused the Cubs problems all night.
Ainsworth had 28 points on the night, including four three-point shots and a handful of pull-up jumpers.
In the second quarter, the Pirates and Cubs were close from start to finish.
Ainsworth had seven points, while Tapia and Quintin Travis combined for 11 points. Cunningham and Luke Losier combined for four points.
The game entered halftime in favor of the Pirates 34-30, and that would be the closest Newport would get in the second half.
The Cubs only scored seven points in the third quarter.
Losier had three and a free throw, and Bruns had three, but that was all Newport could muster in the third.
Marshfield countered with 17 points in the third and 17 in the fourth to outlast the Cubs, even though Newport made a big push in the final quarter, scoring 18 points.
Newport now looks toward league play.