CRETE | Illinois Lutheran's Mack Newson is seeing plenty of progress out of his team so far this year, and on Friday night, the Chargers showed their ability to progress in the span of one halftime.
Illinois Lutheran erased a seven-point halftime deficit on the way to a 57-50 win over River Valley Conference foe Gardner-South Wilmington on homecoming night. The Chargers started the second half with a 12-0 run and never looked back the rest of the way. Newson scored 10 of his 21 points in the third quarter and finished with six rebounds and three steals to go along with his game leading 21 points.
"Once we started opening up things, we started hitting shots," Newson said. "Coach gives me the freedom to take the ball and do what I want with it, with a little give or take. He has given me a lot of freedom this year."
The Chargers (5-2, 2-1) struggled in the first half on the glass and were outrebounded by the Panthers 14-6 in the first two quarters. Three Sam Geraci 3-pointers, including a three-quarter court shot to end the first quarter, helped to keep Illinois Lutheran in the game at halftime.
"We had so many guys in foul trouble in the first half, we didn't have a lineup out there that we were comfortable with," Charger coach Mark Kjenstad said. "In the second half, we were able to get in a rhythm because we had the right combinations."
Illinois Lutheran switched to a man to man defensive scheme in the second half, and the Panthers were unable to collect their first bucket of the third quarter until one minute was left in the third. Jacob Woldhuis scored 13 for the Chargers and had five boards. Collin Borns added 10 points for Illinois Lutheran.
"I'm seeing progress," Newson said of the team. "A lot of progress. Our big men are waking up and starting to demand the ball in the post, and our guards are starting to shoot the ball like you saw today."
Kjenstad said the team has been battling injuries, and the team is coming together now that the Chargers have gotten healthy. He also credited Woldhuis for showing what he is capable of down low.
"Our post player, Jacob Woldhuis had the game of the year," Kjenstad said. "He's been practicing like that. We need an inside post presence which we haven't had to this point, and he gave it to us tonight. We can keep getting better as long as we stay healthy."