The Newton High School girls’ basketball team played from behind most of the night, but pulled away when it needed for a 50-39 win over seventh-ranked (KBCA, Class 5A) Salina Central Friday night in the finals of the Class 5A sub-state at Ravenscroft Gym.?Fifth-ranked Newton hit 21 of 26 free throws in the game, 16 of 18 in the fourth quarter. It was Newton’s third win of the season against the Mustangs.?“I thought early on, they were hot,” Newton coach Randy Jordan said. “They are a great 3-point shooting team. Sometimes, you have to weather that storm. We helped them out a few times. (Central’s Emily) Wood would start to penetrate and we would help off. Emily Hiebert had her. When we helped off, Wood would dish off for a three. We finally put a stop to that. Hiebert was doing a good enough job, I don’t think (Wood) could turn the corner. I thought Central got tired down the stretch. Their bench wasn’t very deep tonight.?“Our free throw shooting was amazing. You can’t live long in the post season without good free throw shooting. It was very physical.”

Newton was led by Abbie Lehman with 20 points, hitting nine of 10 from the line. Taylor Stahly scored 11 points, all in the second half. Kelsi Langley added nine points. Stahly and Langley both went five of six from the line in the fourth quarter. Lehman was four of four from the line in the fourth quarter.?Langley went down with 6:26 remaining in regulation, but was able to return and finish the game, hitting key free throws.?“When I landed (after a shot), I got a cramp in my calf,” Langley said. “I was really nervous. I didn’t eat a lot today. (In the second half,) our intensity stepped up. We weren’t going to lose. We had that will to win in the second half. We started getting those fouls called and we started hitting free throws. When we did that, it was game over.”?Stahly missed her first four attempts from the field in the first half, but hit two of three in the second half, along with her free throws.?“They really got out and guarded us hard,” Stahly said. “It was a problem to get open, but everyone else was getting shots. At halftime, coach (Jordan) got on me a little bit. He got me fired up. He wanted to do it for the seniors. God helped me hit some shots. It was good. This means a lot. Every single girl out here worked their butt off.”?Lehman was five of 11 from the field. On defense, Lehman held Central’s leading scorer — Shaelyn Martin — to nine points. After drawing some early fouls by Martin, Central switched Hailey Mayfield on Lehman. Mayfield finished with eight points.?“I got Martin in fouls trouble, so they had to switch on me,” Lehman said. “... We were able to start dribble driving in the second half. I was worried a couple of times, but I always knew we would pull through.”?“Abbie does a great job on Martin,” Jordan said. “There were a few times we helped off on Martin, when we didn’t need to. When we did that, Martin was able to dump it to the other post. Martin’s a great player, but Abbie neutralized her. Everybody made a play for us tonight when we needed it.”?The 6-foot-3 Lehman even hit a 3-point shot, just her second of the season.?“The coach said I could do it,” Lehman said. “I was able to square up and hit it.”?“We wanted Hannah (Carlgren) to take one early, but they came out and guarded her,” Jordan said. “Abbie has been working on it in practice. We don’t want people sagging off on her.”?Brooke Peters led Central, 14-7, with 10 points.?Newton scored first, but Central came back with a pair of treys. Newton finished the quarter, capped by a Lehman trey, to make a 6-2 run, tying the game 8-8.?Newton opened the second quarter with a 6-2 run. Central replied with 7-0 run capped by a Brooke Peters trey. Newton tied the game on Kelsi Langley trey. A Madison Carlgren trey at the halftime buzzer put Central back up by three, 20-17.?Newton was seven of 21 shooting. Central was seven of 19. Only four fouls were called in the first half, two on each team.?Newton trailed by as many as four in the third quarter. A Taylor Stahly trey with 2:53 left in the period put Newton up by one. Down by two with two minutes to play, a Stahly trey and a Hannah Carlgren hook shot put Newton up by three, 32-29, at the end of the period.?Central opened the fourth quarter with a pair of layups, sparking a 7-2 run. Newton tied the game on a pair of Stahly free throws with 4:39 in regulation. Lehman followed with a pair of free throws 65 seconds later to regain the lead.?Newton used free throws and an Emily Hiebert layup to lead by as many as nine. Martin broke the run with a pair of free throws with 59.1 seconds in regulation. Langley answered four seconds later. Stahly put the Railers up by 11 with 31.1 seconds to go with a pair of free throws.?Newton advances to the Class 5A state tournament beginning Wednesday in Topeka. Pairings are expected to be made today.?“We’re playing really well right now,” Jordan said. “We’re playing well together. We’re healthy, and that’s a big thing. I feel good about our chances to get beyond the first round. They play hard and never give up. They never feel like they’re out of it.”

SALINA CENTRAL (14-7) — M.Carlgren 1 (1) 0-0 2, 5; Wood 1 (1) 0-0 4, 5; Morris 1 0-0 0, 2; Bradshaw 0 0-0 0, 0; Peters 0 (3) 1-2 3, 10; Hamilton 0 0-0 0, 0; Mayfield 2 4-6 3, 8; Martin 3 3-3 4, 9; TOTALS 8 (5) 8-11 16, 39.?NEWTON (18-4) — Porter 0 2-2 1, 2; Anderson 0 0-0 1, 0; Stahly 0 (2) 5-6 2, 11; Hiebert 2 0-0 1, 4; Lehman 4 (1) 9-10 2, 20; Langley 0 (1) 6-8 1, 9; H.Carlgren 2 0-0 2, 4; TOTALS 8 (4) 22-26 10, 50.?S.Central 8 12 9 10 —39?Newton 8 9 15 18 —50