BYRON — Erasing a deficit that reached double digits by the end of the first quarter would be difficult enough against a sectional qualifier like Newman Central Catholic.
Doing so while making fewer than 10 field goals, and while going 2-for-16 from three-point land, made a comeback impossible Wednesday for the Seneca Fighting Irish.
The illness-ravaged Irish never seriously challenged the Comets during a 45-27 semifinal loss at the Class 2A Byron Boys Basketball Sectional. Seneca fell behind 17-6 during the first and never scored in double digits in a single quarter as the Newman lead remained comfortable.
"I think our shots just weren't falling tonight," Seneca senior Brian Bergeson said after the Irish went 9-for-43 from the field. "We've had a lot of sickness going around our team. We're an energy team, normally, and tonight I just think we ran out of energy. It seemed like there are a lot of different things that just happen to be going against us, and it's a shame it had to be tonight."
Newman went 8-for-13 from the field during the first quarter, but the Comets cooled down, going 4-for-11 in the second and 3-for-9 in the third. When the Irish were not missing shots, however, they were losing the turnover battle badly, at least in the first half. By halftime, Seneca had turned the ball over eight times to Newman's two, helping the Comet lead grow to 29-15.
"There were times where we got lost defensively. They slipped behind our defense a couple of times and got some easy shots," Seneca coach Russell Witte said. "Falling behind by as much as we did early forced us out of some of the things we normally do defensively. Their No. 13, the coach's son (A.J. Sharp), did a good job of handling the ball."
On a night where Seneca's starters went a combined 6-for-29 from the field, reserve guard Alex Bott gave the Irish a spark with a conventional three-point play in the second quarter and a three-point basket in the third. His six points matched senior post Chris Lee for the team high.
"We needed a spark," Bott said. "No one else was able to provide one, so I tried to bring some energy, and hopefully the team could feed off my energy."
While the Bott three helped the Irish get the deficit down to 36-24 by the end of the third, they never got closer, as they were held to three points in the fourth.
"He's part of a good group we have coming back. They got a taste of it this season," Witte said of Bott, "but I can't say enough about my seniors, and what they did for this program."