TAMPA — With Newsome huddled in the game’s final timeout, Colton Stafford broke away and stared at the scoreboard, not once, but twice. Each time, he smiled and pumped a fist.
Less than a minute later, the upset would be complete in what third-year coach Barry Jacobs called “the biggest win since I’ve been here.”
Newsome, the No. 4 seed, stunned top-seeded Plant 47-36 Wednesday in a Class 8A, District 7 semifinal at Alonso, putting the Wolves in Friday’s championship against No. 2 Wharton, a 51-46 winner against third-seeded Bloomingdale.
The Wolves (16-8) overcame an 11-point second-quarter deficit with a suffocating defense. After scoring 17 in the first quarter on 7-of-12 shooting, Plant (19-7) managed only 19 points the rest of the way and missed 27 of 33 field goal attempts, including all 11 in the final quarter. Stafford’s layup, his second and final bucket, gave Newsome the lead for good at 36-34 with five minutes remaining.
“I have a great bench, and I used a lot of my guys,” Jacobs said. “I told the guys to just keep your composure, and each position is going to count, offensively and defensively.”
Plant’s only points in the fourth quarter came on two free throws by Andrew Sanders, who finished with 15 points.
Hayden Harkins led Newsome with 15 points and Anthony Gamble added 10.
“We believed (Wednesday) might be our last game together, so we wanted to give it our all,” said Harkins, a senior forward. “We knew that if we put the pressure (on Plant), and made them rush shots and rush passes, we could get in their head. It worked.”
Wharton (18-6) got 17 points from Scott Sollazzo, including five 3-pointers, as Bloomingdale (20-7) got into early foul trouble. The Bulls trailed 45-43 with 1:30 left and had chances to tie on back-to-back possessions. But they missed two field-goal attempts and a pair of free throws as Wharton held on.
“(Coach) Tommy Tonelli told us two stories before the game for motivation,” Sollazzo said. “He said we had to play as a team, and he told us a story about his father and son and asked that we play like one stick, one family, one team. When we weren’t producing, I had to come up and help the team.”