The Newark Lady Wildcats hosted Watkins Memorial on Friday evening in Jimmy Allen Gym for the District Championship showdown. Entering the contest Newark (26-1) was ranked 7th in the State, 4th in D-1 and 123rd nationally.
Watkins was ranked 43rd in the State, 22nd in D-1 and 791st Nationally. Newark’s lone loss came against North Central (Jan. 24) in Indianapolis who was ranked #1 in the state at the time. During that contest, #20 Mitrese Smith was left intentionally open from distance on multiple trips down the court and she proved her ability throughout the ballgame.
On Friday night, Newark made Watkins pay with lethal shooting from 3 point land. #14 Maddie Vejsicky scored the Lady Wildcats first 17 points and got going early with rhythm shots that flowed smoothly within the offensive scheme.
“I think this year’s success definitely has a lot to do with last year. I think the people before us put in a lot of work to where we are right now and we’re continuing to put in that work for them and this year is also for them, for our seniors that we lost.” (Sr. Emma Shumate via NBC4i)
The wonderful part about this Wildcats club is that they have women who step up and fulfill their role night in and night out. Coach J.R. Shumate’s daughter Emma Shumate got off to a shaky start with a couple uncharacteristic turnovers on outlet passes but her teammates picked her right up.
Coach Shumate sensed that this game was too close for comfort and put the clamps on Watkins early. Following a Watkins timeout at 12-8 (Cats lead) Newark ratcheted up the pressure and went to a full court defense.
Watkins became flustered and could not handle the pressure. They were forced to take rushed shots out of their offensive rhythm and even coughed up the rock due to a Offensive 3 second penalty.
Newark widened the gap with great offensive glass crashing that led to second chance opportunities. Vejsicky got going early and never looked back. At halftime she had 28 points on 7-8 from three point territory. Overall, the Lady Wildcats shot 65% from 3 on 11-18 to go up 41-22 at Halftime. In the second half, Watkins made a small surge that saw a few jumpballs as Newark struggled to continue their three point success starting out 0-5. The Warriors would not go lightly but only managed to narrow the gap down to 15 points. They had solid energy and tried to rally throughout the duration of the evening but simply could not measure up to the Cats.
To close the third quarter, Newark cashed in on two more 3-balls making the score 53-32.
The Wildcats do a terrific job moving their feet on defense. Not only that, but their helpside ability often closes lanes quickly and stimies their opponent. Even if they do get beat off the dribble the length they exhibit leads to blocks around the rim. More times than not, Newark is snatching the board on first try and securing the rebound on both ends of the court.
Newark Wildcats defeated the Watkins Warriors 72-38 and Maddie Vejsicky set the all-time 3 point school record with 10 3 pointers to notch a total of 36 points. Emma Shumate had 6 blocks* in the contest and Newark shot 50% from 3 on 17-34 shooting.
*Shumate statistically had six blocks in the game but we will count it as 7 due to a bogus foul call from a whistle-happy “Karen” with a killer updo.