HAYS — For the first 26 minutes, the Newton High School girls’ basketball team was having a dream game against Kearney, Neb., in the championship game of the Hays City Shootout. For the last six minutes, that dream turned into a nightmare. The Railers built a 22-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Kearney, which struggled shooting most of the night, finally found its touch, getting within three points before the Railers held on for a 51-45 win. “We were taking good shots,” Newton coach Randy Jordan said. “We were handling their pressure well. We were getting the ball in the middle of the court. All of a sudden, we started dribbling up the side of the court. We took time outs to talk about it. We just let them speed us up. We lost our composure. We settled down finally and hit some free throws.” Newton finished the game 18 of 36 shooting. Kearney was seven of 28 through three quarters, but hit eight of 12 shots in the fourth — five of six from 3-point range. “We guarded well, except for those threes,” Jordan said. “We handled the ball well until we started bringing the ball up the sidelines. We took very good care of the ball. We played three quarters of very fundamental basketball.” Up by three late in the game, Emily Hiebert blocked a 3-point shot. Kearny got the rebound, but Abbie Lehman blocked an inside shot. The Bearcats drew no closer. “We worked hard to make sure they didn’t get a shot off,” Lehman said. “They didn’t hit many shots in the first half. Then they started hitting everything.” “I didn’t want to foul, so I just got my arms up,” Hiebert said. Lehman finished with 15 points, followed by Taylor Stahly and Hannah Carlgren with 10 points each. Lehman was named to the all-tournament team. “Taylor hit some big shots for us,” Jordan said. “Hannah hit some big shots.” Hiebert finished the tournament with an academic award, an all-tournament team selection and received the Most Inspirational Player Award. “It’s a great honor to get all those,” Hiebert said. “It means a lot. ... They started pressing,” Hiebert said. “We made some turnovers, and they made some big shots. They are a great team. This is a great way to start the season.” Kearney was led by Gretchen Mak and Kelsey Wiemers with 12 points each. Newton jumped out 4-0 early, leading bu seven, 18-11, at the end of the first quarter. Neither team did much on offense for the first four of the second quarter. Claire Sickler broke the run with a trey. Newton answered on a Lehman layup with 3:25 left in the first half, sparking a 7-0 run to give Newton an 11-point lead at the half, 25-14. Kearney was six of 21 shooting in the first half. Newton was 11 of 19. Newrton scored the first basket of the third quarter. Kelsey Stithem broke the run with a pair of free throws. Kearney drew within nine, but Newton came back with an 8-0 run to end the period, leading 37-20. Stahly opened the fourth quarter with a trey, sparking a 6-2 run. Kearney came back with the next five points to get within 16. After a time out Skylar Snider scored on a layup off a steal, followed by another Railer turnover. After two Kearney free throws, Newton turned the ball over again. Mak hit a trey with 3:17 to get Kearney within nine. Langley broke the run with one of two free throws. Kearney came back with two more treys to cut the lead to four with 2:23 remaining in regulation. Newton again turned the ball over, but Langley stole the ball with 1:45 in regulation. Stahly hit one of two free throws with 1:36 in regulation. Kearney answered with a layup. Langley hit three of four free throws to get Newton back out by six in the final minute. Lehman then hit three of four free throws to put it out of reach. Kearney hit a half-court shot at the buzzer. “I liked our determination down the stretch,” Jordan said. “The thing I like about this tournament is it exposes your strengths and weaknesses. It shows what you have to work on, and what you’re doing well. I have to give Kearney credit. They were hitting shots. Some of them were under pressure. Some were four feet behind the arc. We’re resiliant.” Newton hosts second-ranked (Class 5A, KBCA) Salina Central at 7 p.m. Saturday. “We’ll practice hard this week,” Lehman said. “I heard they are really good. They just beat McPherson. They are going to put pressure on us. We need to play defense.” “They’re good,” Jordan said. “They’re long, athletic. They are ranked number two in the state. They came off a big win. They just beat Mac. Against Central, we’ll have to take care of the basketball.”
KEARNEY (Neb.) (2-1) — Mak 0 (4) 0-0 4, 12; Coslor 0 0-0 4, 0; Wiemers 2 (3) 2-2 3, 12; Sickler 0 (1) 0-0 0, 3; Graham 0 0-0 0, 0; Stihem 3 3-4 2, 9; Cudaback 0 0-0 3, 0; Miller 0 0-0 0, 0; Ray 0 1-2 1, 1; Snider 2 1-2 4, 5; TOTALS 7 (8) 7-10 22, 45. NEWTON (3-0) — Porter 2 2-2 2, 6; Anderson 0 0-0 3, 0; Stahly 0 (3) 1-2 1, 10; Hiebert 3 0-0 3, 6; Lehman 6 3-6 1, 15; Langley 0 4-6 3, 4; Carlgren 4 2-5 2, 10; TOTALS 15 (3) 12-21 15, 51. Kearney 11 3 6 25 —45 Newton 18 7 12 14 —51