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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Railer girls prepare for state trip

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  • For the sixth time in 10 years, the Newton High School girls’ basketball team is heading to the Class 5A state tournament in Topeka.?First up for the Railers is Andover. Both teams are 18-4. Newton is the fourth seed and Andover is the fifth seed by means of a coin flip.?“Andover is a very athletic team, but they are very young,” Newton coach Randy Jordan said. “We’re going to have to take good care of the ball against them. We’re going to provide them with some match-up problems as well, especially with Abbie (Lehman) and Hannah (Carlgren). Like Salina Central, we’re not going to be able to help off as much against them. They will just kick it out for an open three.”?Andover shoots 42 percent from the field, 31 percent from 3-point range and 62 percent from the free throw line. The Trojans are led by 5-foot-11 sophomore Jaylyn Agnew, who averages 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots a game. Andover has six other players who average between seven and four points a game.?While the two teams have not met this season, they do have five common opponents (Maize, Campus, Valley Center, Salina Central and Goddard Eisnhower). Both teams had similar results with the exception of Salina Central, which Newton beat three times and Andover lost twice; and Maize, which beat Newton twice and Andover once.?Also on Newton’s side of the bracket are top-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas (21-1) and Leavenworth (14-8).?“Leavenworth has some size,” Jordan said. “They are one of the bigger teams in the state. St. Thomas Aquinas is a typical Aquinas team. They well coached. They are well disciplined. They are fundamentally sound. They are patient. They play very good defense. We match up well against them. We can be successful against them, but we have to play very well.”?On the other side of the bracket, 20-1 Mill Valley faces 16-5 Salina South and 19-3 Kapaun-Mt. Carmel meets 17-5 Bishop Miege. Newton has played three of the four teams on the opposite side of the bracket. Newton split with Salina South, losing the first meeting 44-34, but winning the second meeting 39-26. Newton faced both Miege and Kapaun-Mt. Carmel at the Newton Invitational. Newton lost to Miege 56-41 in the NIT semifinals, the worse loss the Railers suffered this season, but beat Kapaun 48-44 in the NIT third-place game.?Kapaun is the defending champion.?“Mill Valley is not as big as some of the other teams, but they are well-coached and deep,” Jordan said. “They will have trouble with our size, but they are quick and play good defense. They could have trouble matching up with South. South is not as big as we are, but are playing well right now. When Megan (Holloway) is on, they are very tough to beat. We know South very well, and they know us very well. That would make a very interesting game.?“Kapaun is a well-coached team. Miege is playing very well right now. This is going to be a very good game. Both teams have very good athletes. Miege doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”?Newton enters the tournament with Lehman averaging 12.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 1.9 assists per game. Sophomore guard Taylor Stahly is averaging 9.0 points a game off the bench. Kelsi Langley is averaging 7.5 points a game. Newton is shooting 45 percent from the field, 33 percent from 3-point range and 65 percent from the line.?Newton is scoring 47.5 points a game, and allowing just 35 points a game.?“We’ve been playing very good defense as a team,” Jordan said. “We’ve held some very good teams to their season lows. It’s nice to be the underdog. We need to take care of the ball, and we’ve been doing a good job of that lately. I think the defining moment of the season was when we played seven games in a row against teams ranking in Class 5A or 6A. That was a brutal stretch for us. (Newton finished the stretch 5-2.) Going through that matured us as a team. We had to play three of those in a row. Then we had to play Maize on one day of practice. We’ve played teams that were averaging 60 or 70 points a game, and holding them to 40 points or less.”

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