NEWARK, Ohio (WCMH) — The Newark girls’ basketball team, on a mission to win their first state title, haven’t lost a game since January 4, 2020.
But the Wildcats perfect 16-0 record this season will be put to the test when they travel to Indianapolis on Saturday to face 18-2 North Central, the No. 1 ranked team in Indiana.
Newark has already faced talented teams this season coming away with a 61-59 double overtime win over Penn, the 6th-ranked team in Indiana, and a convincing 67-45 win over Wayne, the 5th-ranked team in Ohio.
“We’ve played a tough schedule and I feel like it has prepared us well for the games that we have left to play and we’re hoping the games we have this weekend will take it a step further and challenge us a bit more so we can figure out where we’re at,” head coach J.R. Shumate said.
The Panthers are 18-2 this season and rely on a full court press only allowing 42 points a game.
Meanwhile, Newark has a solid half-court defense only allowing 31 points a game. As a whole, the team averages 61 points a game and several players can score double digits any given night.
Newark beat Pick Central on Friday, their second win over the Tigers this season.
The Wildcats’ schedule doesn’t get any easier next week when they face undefeated Westerville North on Tuesday and a talented Reynoldsburg squad on Friday.
“It’s just big knowing that we have a chance to do something for the first time ever, which is win a state championship for Newark girls’ basketball,” senior Madison Stottsberry said.
The Wildcats’ 2019-20 season ended before they could play in the Final 4 due to the pandemic, ending high school careers for four seniors. But their legacy is still with this year’s group.
“I think this year’s success definitely has a lot to do with last year,” senior Emma Shumate said. “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.”
Four out of five of Newark’s seniors have scholarship offers, including J.R.’s daughter who’s committed to West Virginia.
“It’s a special time and it is coming to an end but them going on to play in college is just as special,” J.R. Shumate said.