FREMONT -- The Newark Memorial High boys basketball team left little doubt Friday night as to who rules the North Coast Section Division II.
The top-seeded Cougars harassed the high-octane offense of No. 2 Dublin and earned their second straight section title with a 74-60 win in the NCS championship game at Washington High.
"Our whole focus is defense," Cougars junior point guard Joey Frenchwood said. "We know we're going to get scores on offense regardless. We know they score better than most teams."
The Gaels hadn't scored fewer than 85 points in any of their three playoff games and had been explosive throughout a season that saw them set a school record for wins and capture their first league title in 40 years.
But Newark (23-7), a longtime NCS power, beat Dublin (24-6) twice earlier this season, and this victory means that half of the Gaels' losses this season came at the hands of the Cougars.
"They're a really good team," Dublin said Tom Costello said of Newark. "I think ultimately what killed us was all the second shots. I think our initial defense was pretty good, but we didn't finish the play."
Newark will find out Sunday if it will play in the inaugural Open Division when the California Interscholastic Federation Northern Regional playoffs begin next week or remain in Division II. Cougars coach Craig Ashmore prefers Division II, but Frenchwood disagrees.
"We want Open," he said. "We want to win it all. We
Frenchwood scored 20 points to share game-high honors with Dublin's JoJo McGlaston.
Dublin scored the first four points of the game but then fell victim to several turnovers that helped Newark go on a 14-4 run. The Gaels tightened it up and trailed 14-11 after a quarter.
Dublin pulled back in front three minutes into the second quarter when Devin Koeplin went coast to coast for a layup. He was fouled and made the free throw to give the Gaels a 20-18 advantage.
Newark scored six straight to regain the lead. After a Dublin bucket on a McGlaston dunk, the Cougars went on an 8-0 run to close the half. A layup at the buzzer by Frenchwood made it 32-22.
The Gaels pulled to within 36-33 early in the third on another dunk by McGlaston. But Newark followed with a 12-0 run, and Dublin never trailed by fewer than nine points the rest of the way.
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