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Boys basketball: Newark advances to sectional final

Newark's Matt Eike (left) Jack Clausel celebrate their 61-51 wover Chicago Hope Academy sectional semifinal Wednesday Mooseheart. | Mary Beth

Newark's Matt Eike (left) and Jack Clausel celebrate their 61-51 win over Chicago Hope Academy in a sectional semifinal Wednesday at Mooseheart. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 28, 2013 11:32AM

One of the keys to the success of Newark’s basketball program over the past several years has been its ability to get big contributions from young players.

Wednesday night at the Class 1A Mooseheart Sectional, it was Jack Clausel’s turn. He came up big as his career night of 31 points and 11 rebounds gave the Norsemen a 61-51 win over Hope Academy.

Newark (20-11), which beat Hope Academy in the sectional semis two years ago on its way to a state title, moves on to play Chicagoland Jewish in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. title game.

With Hope Academy paying plenty of attention to senior Brett Anderson in the early going, holding the school’s third-leading scorer to just four points on 1-for-5 shooting, Clausel went to work quickly. Newark’s 27-22 lead at the break was mostly due to his 17 points as he made eight of his nine shots from the field.

“They were doubling Brett and he wasn’t getting the shots, so I had to step up,” Clausel said. “When I was shooting around I was making a lot, so I decided I was going to be aggressive from the start.”

Anderson scored 10 of his 17 points in the third quarter as the Norsemen took a 10-point lead into the final eight minutes. Newark took care of business at the free-throw line, hitting 18 of 20. Joe Hughes was perfect on his four tosses in the quarter to give him seven points on the night, and Clausel dropped all 10 of his tries — including eight in a row in the game’s final 90 seconds.

That helped the Norsemen hold off a furious rally on the part of the Eagles, who after shooting just 10-for-41 through three quarters scored 22 points in the final stanza and got as close as four (51-47) when Carson Hughs (10 points) canned a three-pointer with 1:22 to play.

“We didn’t handle the ball too well and really couldn’t get into an offense, but we did enough” said Newark coach Rick Tollefson, giving credit to Hope Academy’s ball-hawking defense, “And when you make some free throws that helps too.”

Armando Sacluti led the Eagles with 16 points.

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