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Boys basketball: Brett Anderson does it all for Newark

Newark's Brett Andersmoves ball for Norseman Saturday play-round game Plano Christmas Classic. 
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

Newark's Brett Anderson moves the ball for the Norseman Saturday in a play-in round game of the Plano Christmas Classic. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 6, 2013 10:05PM

Just how important is Brett Anderson to the Newark basketball team this season?

It was readily apparent Saturday from the beginning of the Norsemen’s Plano Christmas Classic opener with Burlington Central when the Rockets employed a box-and-one defense with a defender shadowing the senior while his teammates played zone.

“Brett is obviously just a second coach on the court and I tell him, ‘You’ve got to be everything,’” Newark coach Rick Tollefson said of the fourth-year varsity starter. “He can be my point (guard). I can throw him in the post.”

He can also play either forward spot, and the numbers prove Anderson can do just about everything on the court. He entered tourney play averaging 23.3 points-per-game, 8.8 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 3.3 assists, all of which are team highs.

“He’s just a really intelligent player,” Tollefson said of the 6-foot-4 Anderson, who will play next year at Anderson University, a private Christian College in Indiana.

Newark struggled early against Central, turning the ball over on four straight possessions and falling behind 14-4 midway through the opening period before rallying to take a 17-14 lead at quarter’s end and going on to claim the win.

“It was kinda scary, but once we started getting on a roll and started taking care of the ball, I had all the confidence in the world,” said Anderson, who started as a freshman on a Newark team that reached the 1A supersectional in DeKalb.

As a sophomore, he averaged 10.5 points and 6.9 rebounds on the 1A state champs that featured his older brother Jeremy, Jon Avery and University of Delaware’s Kyle Anderson (no relation).

“(This year) is a lot different, but I don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “Those first two years with Kyle and Jon and my brother I learned so much, how to be a leader on the court, how to play hard, play through struggles and come out on top.

“I think what I learned there I’m able to help these guys trying to do some big things. You can see them learning every day and they’re getting better, so it’s just a work in progress.”

Last year, Anderson played a similar do-it-all role and averaged an area-best 22.5 points and 11 rebounds with 3.8 assists and 3.7 steals.

“My role changes every night. One night I could be strictly post, one day I could be strictly guard. It just depends on who we’re playing and the defense they’re playing and how we’re playing as a team. You gotta go in with no expectations and just take what they’re giving you,” he said.

On Saturday, that meant getting teammates involved.

“Coach told me before the game, ‘I need you to take control of the game, but that doesn’t need scoring,’” said Anderson, who was one of four players in double figures for the Norsemen but had just 13.

Finding open men who were able to knock down shots was key to the team’s 61-49 victory with Grant Riehle-Moeller scoring 17, Jack Clausel 16 and Joe Hughes 13.

“It’s a little hard going out there and not looking for my shot right away,” said Anderson. “It didn’t feel too good (in pregame) anyway, so I wasn’t wanting to force anything because I knew it probably wasn’t going to go in.

“Once the other guys started hitting it, I pretty much sat there, tried to take care of the ball and tried to get them the shots because I knew they were on fire more than I was.”

He’s getting plenty of help on the front line from Clausel, a 6-4 freshman.

“We all knew from playing with him in open gyms he was a good player,” Anderson said of Clausel. “We knew he had a lot of potential. He’s got a lot of work to do, still, get stronger, but he’s getting there.”

Last year, the Norsemen also had Adam Shorkey on the front line but his family moved to Iowa in the offseason.

“You can’t help but wonder what we could be with him,” said Anderson.

“That was a big loss for us. He was about the same size and Jack and I, but we’re not gonna hang our heads over anything. We’re gonna take up with what we have and run with it.”

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