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Carter Newsome next to Waukegan Libertyville

There’s a simple way to describe what sophomore guard Carter Newsome has done for Waukegan.

Whatever it takes for the Bulldogs to be successful.

“Play defense,” he said. “Stop. Control the ball. Find the guys when they are open.

Newsome has become so valuable that Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw doesn’t want to take him out of games.

“Even as a freshman last year, he was noticeable when he wasn’t on the floor,” Ashlaw said.

So Newsome essentially lived on the field Wednesday in the third-seeded Bulldogs’ game against sixth-seeded Libertyville in the Class 4A Warren Regional semifinals.

In fact, he spent the first three quarters in the background, allowing Waukegan’s offense to operate smoothly against the Wildcats’ stingy defense and making things difficult for their top shooters.

But Newsome scored nine of his 10 points in two overtime periods as the Bulldogs earned a 64-58 victory.

Waukegan’s Carter Newsome makes a free throw during the game against Libertyville in the Class 4A Warren Regional semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Gurnee. (Mark Ukena/News-Sun)

Seeing Newsome succeed in the clutch was no surprise to the sophomore Simereon CarterHe led Waukegan (17-13) with 17 points. Carter has been playing with Newsome for almost a decade.

“Since he was little, he always made the right play,” Carter said. We believe that he will always make the right decision and be successful for the team.”

Newsome’s only basket against the Wildcats (10-19) came with 2:30 left in the second overtime and Waukegan’s lead increased to 54-50. But with the ball in his hands so much, he frequently went to the free throw line at crucial moments, making 8 of 10 attempts to secure the win for the Bulldogs.

“We always shoot free throws for about 10 minutes before practice, and at the end of practice we do what’s called ‘quick free throws’ where we have to make eight free throws in a row as a team over the course of four minutes,” Newsome said. “I’m not going to lie, but I was nervous. I was shaking over some of them.

Newsome fooled everyone in the gym by looking calm and collected at the line. On Friday, Waukegan will get another chance to make an impact when it faces top-seeded Warren (28-4), co-champion of the North Suburban Conference.

The Bulldogs will rely on that.

“My teammates make me feel comfortable using my strengths and make me feel like I’m a good leader,” Newsome said.

Leadership isn’t a trait usually seen in sophomores, but it makes sense for Newsome considering the intangible aspects.

“He probably knows our playbook as well as anyone we face here,” Ashlaw said. “He has a very high basketball IQ and is very good at presenting what the game should be. He mainly runs our reviews before the games.

As the games begin, Newsome also makes his presence known. He’s averaging 10 points, three assists and nearly two steals while shooting 44.6% from three-point range.

Waukegan's Carter Newsome (0) dives over Libertyville's Ben Van Lyssel (right) during the Class 4A Warren Regional semifinals Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Gurnee.  (Mark Ukena of the Lake County News-Sun)
Waukegan’s Carter Newsome (0) tries to shoot a shot over Libertyville’s Ben Van Lyssel during the Class 4A Warren Regional semifinal game Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Gurnee. (Mark Ukena/News-Sun)

Going back to Newsome’s freshman season, even though his numbers weren’t that significant, it was already clear that he could bring a lot to the table, due in part to missing a few weeks due to a foot injury.

Newsome certainly made an impression on Ashlaw in a short time.

“In five or six years, if he wants to move in that direction, I will offer him a position on our coaching staff,” Ashlaw said.

Steve Reaven is a freelance reporter.

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