By Mark Schnabel
The Newton Railer and Dodge City Red Demon girls’ basketball teams are probably happy to be done with each other after another tense, physical game Thursday in the first round of the 34th Newton Invitational at Ravenscroft Gym.
The Railers hit 14 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off Dodge City 43-38. The Railers sweep the series between the two teams. In the first meeting, the Railers overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win in overtime. In this meeting, Newton struggled to protect a lead. Both teams struggled shooting, leaving defense, free throw shooting and rebounding as keys.
“Kate (Lehman) was nine of 10 from the line,” Newton coach Randy Jordan said. “Sadie (Minkevitch) hit some big ones too. She was four for five. Emily (Hiebert’s) three (in the third quarter) helped get us over the top. We were down one, and she hit that three. That gave us some energy, because we were really struggling. ... They got out and guarded us tough on the perimeter and didn’t give us a lot of wide-open looks. There were a few times we got some inside-out, and that helps. They extended the zone a lot farther than they did the last time we played them.”
“I was happy to be able to score this game,” Newton junior post Kate Lehman said. “The first time we played them, I wasn’t able to score until the fourth quarter. Emily Hiebert stepped up and had a great game as a freshman. She hit a key three and a big layup. That was good.”
Lehman scored 13 points, hitting nine of 10 from the line and eight of eight in the fourth quarter. She blocked six shots.
“I spend a lot of time practicing my free throws,” Lehman said. “We do that every day. They started to fall. I’ve been working hard to go up strong. That’s helped me get to the line. We knew after we played them the first time, it was going to be a tough game. Our offensive game wasn’t quite as good as it should have been. We knew had to play better than we did the first time.”
Hiebert and Minkevitch each scored seven for the Railers.
Newton was outscored 34-25 from the field, but outscored Dodge City 18-4 from the free throw line, as the Red Demons were just four of 13.
“This gym has never been friendly to us as far as shooting goes,” Dodge City coach Justin Briggs said. “One of our best player goes 0 for the field. That’s not a good thing for us. Newton played good defense. We just needed to step up. Maybe the only positive I saw was our rebounding — the first half not so good, but in the second half, we picked it up better on the boards. We made a run there at the end in the last two minutes. The problem is it’s a 32-minute game. It was just too little, too late.”
A’zlynn Thompson led Dodge City with 13 points. Brianna Briggs added nine before fouling out late in the game.
Both teams struggled from the field early. A Lehman layup at the buzzer put the Railers ahead 10-6. Newton led by as many as six late in the first half, but Dodge City cut it to four by the end of the half, 19-15.
Newton was seven of 22 shooting in the first half. Dodge City was seven of 24.
Dodge City opened the second half missing their first five shots, but holding the Railers to one shot in a four-minute span. A pair of layups and a Valerie Ortiz free throw gave Dodge City its first lead of the game, 20-19. Avery Vogts hit a shot for Newton with 3:15 left in the period to break the run. Hiebert added a trey late in the third quarter. Vogts hit one of two free throws with 9.0 seconds left in the period to put Newton ahead 25-24.
Newton opened the fourth quarter hitting eight of eight free throws in a 10-2 Railer run. Dodge City comes back with a pair of Briggs layups to cut the lead to five.
Briggs hit the Red Demons’ first trey of the game with 53.0 seconds left, cutting the Railer lead to four. After one of two Laci McCartney free throws, Thompson hit a layup, cutting the Railer lead to three. After one of two Minkevitch free throws, Thompson hit a trey with 21.5 seconds in regulation.
Minkevitch was hit hard on the inbounds play, but made both free throws. Dodge City missed a 3-point attempt, but got the rebound and called time out with 9.6 seconds remaining.
After another missed DC trey attempt, Lehman put the game away with two free throws with 1.8 seconds left.
Newton, 8-3, faces Bishop Miege at 8:15 p.m. today.
“They have a girl my size,” Lehman said. “The scouting report says they play a lot of zone — 3-2 — like Dodge City does. We know what we have to do to beat them.”
“This is a great opportunity,” Jordan said. “It’s exciting to even have this opportunity. It’s nice to be underdogs.”
Dodge City, 7-3, takes on Western Athletic Conference rival Garden City at 4:45 p.m. today in the consolation semifinals.
“They’re scrappy,” Briggs said. “We played them once this year and beat them. They are going to be a different team. They are going to be ready to go. The sad thing about coming out here and playing Garden City is this will be three times we will face them in the regular season. There’s a possibility in sub-state to make it four.”
NEWTON (8-3) — Pendry 0 0-0 3, 0; Hiebert 1 (1) 2-2 1, 7; Rangel 0 0-0 0, 0; McCartney 0 (1) 1-2 4, 4; McMullen 1 (1) 0-2 2, 5; Scott 2 0-0 0, 4; Vogts 1 1-2 3, 3; Minkevitch 1 5-6 1, 7; Lehman 2 9-10 2, 13; TOTALS 8 (3) 18-24 16, 43.
DODGE CITY (7-3) — Stephenson 0 0-0 1, 0; Ortiz 0 3-4 3, 3; Briggs 3 (1) 0-0 5, 9; Schinstock 0 0-0 0, 0; Ehrlich 3 0-2 2, 6; Buckner 2 1-4 4, 5; Thompson 5 (1) 0-3 4, 13; Pencis 1 0-0 0, 2; TOTALS 14 (2) 4-13 19, 38.
Newton 10 9 5 18 —43
Dodge City 6 9 9 14 —38