The Newburgh Free Academy Goldbacks continued to struggle in non-league play last week, as they gave up 27 third-quarter points in a 75-58 loss to the Mekeel Christian Lions in boys’ basketball game on Saturday at Newburgh Free Academy.
“I thought we played hard,” Newburgh coach Jason McAllister said. “With our team, we’ve got to take small victories. Obviously, we don’t like losing the entire game, but our team is just so young that we have to put a light on every small good that we do, even if it’s the smallest thing.”
It was the Goldbacks’ second game in a 24-hour stretch and their second game against a quality Section 2 opponent. They were beaten, 70-46, on Friday against Albany’s Green Tech Eagles.
Both the Eagles and Lions aren’t affiliated with any Section 2 conference and play an independent schedule.
“We weren’t really concerned about the outcome,” McAllister said. “It was about how we played. I think we played tough. We competed and we battled.
We were physical, but I think we showed here that we just have to relearn how to win. During the past we had veteran guys who have been playing in the program their entire lives. That’s not the case this year.”
Most of the Goldbacks’ experience comes from Elnathan Johnson, but last week, they got a boost with the reactivation of Jayden Lorenzo, who had been ineligible for most of the season. He was ruled eligible for Saturday’s game.
Lorenzo scored 10 points.
“It’s a really good boost,” McAllister said. “He hasn’t played in a while, so he still has to get back in game shape, but especially for the back end of the season, it’s really good for us to have another veteran guy.”
The Goldbacks hung with the Lions for the first half and held the lead for most of the first quarter. They scored the game’s first four points and held a three-point lead with about 2 minutes to go in the first quarter.
Johnson, who led the Goldbacks with 22 points, knocked down a jump shot, but that’s when the Lions came to life. O’Ryan DeJesus converted a three-point play to cut the Goldbacks’ lead to two points. Terrance Robinson closed the gap to one point with a foul shot and Terrance Clark hit two free throws to give the Lions a 16-15 lead.
Clark finished with a game-high 27 points to lead the Lions, while Robinson scored 20 and DeJesus added 14. Robinson hit a 3-pointer to expand the Lions’ lead to four points after the first quarter.
The Goldbacks stayed close until a brief scuffle that resulted in two technical fouls being called against Newburgh seemed to slow whatever momentum they had built. The Lions came out of the break with a 9-0 run to take a 58-46 lead with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Thorpe also scored 10 points for the Goldbacks in what added up to another non-league loss for the Goldbacks, who are 5-8, but have won three of their four Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Division I games.
“My philosophy is people could look at our record and say we’re a bad team this year, which is fine,” McAllister said. “But I’d rather play the toughest teams and take our lumps, than play a so-so schedule and we won’t have a good frame of reference of really good basketball coaches… We played a lot of tough teams, and that’s on purpose so we can see where we stand and potentially make us better when it’s all said and done.”