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Sports

Girls Basketball: Newark's volleyball stars make transition to hoops

Meggie Scott among strong core returning from 20-10 conference, regional champions

Newark's Alyssa Gittins (4) looks for a teammate to pass to against Annawan's Kenall Gripp (30) during last season's Class 1A Serena Sectional semifinal. Gittins is one of several members of Newark's state volleyball team making the transition to basketball as the season starts.
Newark's Alyssa Gittins (4) looks for a teammate to pass to against Annawan's Kenall Gripp (30) during last season's Class 1A Serena Sectional semifinal. Gittins is one of several members of Newark's state volleyball team making the transition to basketball as the season starts.

Barb Scott had a problem the last two weeks she'd happily accept every year.

Half her girls couldn't practice.

Scott, Newark's girls basketball coach, only had four girls at practice the first two weeks. The other six, including Scott's daughter Meggie, were busy leading the school to its first state volleyball appearance.

"A lot of people say it's a problem. I say it's a great problem to have," Scott said. "It is great for the culture in our girls programs to be in that situation, to have that kind of experience."

Scott sees that winning mindset carrying over to other sports. Not that winning has been an issue for the Norsemen in basketball.

Newark is coming off a 20-10 season that included an unbeaten record in the Little Ten Conference and a regional championship.

The Norsemen graduated All-Area post Jasmine Mitchell, but most of the rest of the core returns intact.

Scott, Newark's returning point guard, averaged 8.2 points and 7.7 assists last season. Alyssa Gittins returns as the Norsemen's leading rebounder at 6.9 per game, and Riane Tomsa grabbed 6.6 rebounds per game.

Scott scored 16 points in Newark's season-opening 44-36 win over Sandwich at the Somonauk Tournament.

"Meggie will run the show," Scott said. "I think we will be balanced. We could have four, five, six girls who can give us 10 points on a given night. We have a strong supporting cast. They're just unselfish girls. They don't care who scores."

Other returning upperclassmen are seniors Alyssa Schofield, Becca Sweeney and Reegan Skelton and junior Evie Martin. Sophomore Jocelyn Mitchell saw some varsity time toward the end of the season. Junior Morgan Richards is a newcomer to watch.

And Newak also will have freshman Madi Malone, who comes in off a fantastic season on the volleyball court. Scott coached Malone in junior high in Lisbon, and is happy to have her.

"She hasn't played a lot of basketball, but she's a proven athlete," Scott said. "I very much believe in girls playing more than one sport. I really push and encourage that. I think for kids like Madi it's a nice change of pace."

Scott expects to have a strong defensive team, which certainly seemed to be the case in the first game against Sandwich.

"No. 1, they work hard. No. 2, they communicate," Scott said, "and they're learning to be better anticipators. I plan on scoring a lot off of our defense. When they learn their positions, and know their roles, we'll be very good."

It will just take time, as the volleyball players get acclimated.

"We're going to be a work in progress for several weeks," Scott said. "It will take some time to get their basketball legs and get used to playing together. But they are strong competitors. They are determined and excited to get going."

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