Newberry Observer

Stepp has monster game to help Wolves secure postseason spot

NEWBERRY — James Stepp recorded a season-high 27 points to help Newberry sweep the season series against Catawba and secure a postseason spot in the South Atlantic Conference championship tournament.

With the 92-84 victory over Catawba, the Wolves are currently in a three-way tie for sixth with Coker and Anderson who all have 8-11 records in league play. Newberry will face Tusculum on Saturday at Eleazer Arena in their regular season finale.

After wrapping the regular season, the Wolves will compete in the SAC Championship Quarterfinal on Wednesday, February 28. The opponent will be determined at the conclusion of the regular season.

Stepp’s performance marked his third game this season amassing 20+ points. He accounted for six of the Wolves’ 15 treys and had a team-high three steals.

Two other Wolves – Marshall Lange and Rob Valentine – ended the night in double figures with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Valentine would fall short of a double-double with nine rebounds.

A layup from Catawba’s DJ Johnson would give then their only lead of the game before Xavier Hill would hit a three-pointer to put the Wolves on top 3-2. A trio of treys from Nick Dietrich, Luke Gibson and Stepp would highlight a 11-2 run from the Wolves to extend their lead 21-9. Newberry continued to pour on the points with a three-point play from Max Miller putting the Wolves up 20 at 3:29, marking their largest lead of the contest. Quaman Burton’s layup would send Newberry into the break up 51-34.

Newberry overpowered the Catawba Indians with their three-point shooting in the first, with 10 of their 16 baskets coming from beyond the arc.

Jabrie Bullard would pull up from the top of the key to knock down a trey for the Wolves to open the second half. After a hot start, Newberry would stall offensively to allow the Catawba Indians to go on a 11-0 run over the ensuing three minutes to slice the lead to nine, 54-45. A three-point play from Catawba’s Jeremy McLaughlin would make it a four-point game, but back-to-back treys from Burton and Stepp would extend the advantage 64-54. Catawba would continue to chip away at the Wolves’ lead with their own 6-0 streak to pull back within four. Effective free throw shooting would prove vital down the stretch to seal the 92-84 win.

The Wolves made Catawba pay for their mistakes, creating 19 points off of 17 turnovers.

On the defensive end, only three rebounds separated Newberry from the Catawba Indians. Both teams had 27 defensive boards but Catawba held the slight 14-11 edge in offensive efforts.

James Stepp recorded a season high 27 points to help Newberry sweep Catawba. Stepp recorded a season high 27 points to help Newberry sweep Catawba. Courtesy photo

Staff Report