TOPEKA — The Newton High School girls’ basketball team outplayed top-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas for three quarters. It was the second quarter that proved to be the Railers’ undoing in a 42-40 loss to the Saints Friday in the Class 5A state semifinals at the Topeka Expocentre.?Newton was outscored 16-2 in the second quarter.?Aquinas, 23-1, advances to the state finals at 4 p.m. today. It was the Saints’ 11th straight win. Newton, 19-5, plays for third place at noon.?“I couldn’t be more proud of the way we played and with the way we fought,” Newton coach Randy Jordan said. “We could have easily folded when we got down nine. We kept battling. They deserve that credit. Like I told them, short-term memory. They’ve got one more. I think we’ll respond.”?Aquinas was led by guard Allie Dierks with 13 points. Haleigh Cindrich added nine points.?Newton was led by Abbie Lehman with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Sophomore Taylor Stahly added 16 points, hitting five of eight 3-point shots. Emily Hiebert scored just one point, but had five assists and three steals.?“(Stahly) stepped up big,” Jordan said. “We had to have her. I noticed on film from the Andover game, we put her at the (point guard) too much and took out of the ball out of her hands in terms of the stagger screen to get her open. I felt like we needed three or four threes from her. She had a lot of confidence tonight. That helped her teammates. I had a lot of confidence in her. We tried to get her in the offense, and she stepped up and hit some big shots.?“Abbie played well defensively. We had to take a choice with (Cindrich) because we didn’t want to go out to defend her, but we didn’t want her shooting from the outside. She hit one or two threes (one for three from 3-point range). Hannah (Carlgren) did a great job on Kendra (Weledji, who scored 25 in the Saints’ first-round win). She had six points tonight. Logan (Porter) guarded her.”?Down 8-7, the Railers made a 9-0 run. A Claire Ferguson layup with 10 seconds left in the period ended the run and cut the Railer lead to six, 16-10.?The Saints made a 11-0 run to start the second quarter, hitting two 3-pointers and three of four free throws. Lehman broke the run with a layup with 2:03 remaining in the first half. Newton wouldn’t score again in the quarter. An Allie Dierks trey with three seconds left in the half put Aquinas up by eight, 26-18.?Newton hit six of 12 from the field in the first quarter, but fell to one of eight in the second quarter. Aquinas went from five of 17 shooting in the first quarter to five of eight in the second.?Newton made an 8-2 run to start the third quarter. Rhyann Fisher hit a trey to break the run and get Aquinas back out by five, 31-26, at the end of the period. Newton missed numerous chances to draw close in the final two minutes of the period.?Newton turned the ball over twice to open the fourth quarter, setting up an Aquinas layup. Newton replied with a pair of Lehman free throws and a Stahly trey to pull within two. A Kelsi Langley steal set up a pair of Lehman free throws to tie the game with 4:35 remaining in regulation. Newton forced another turnover, but missed a layup chance on the other end.?Ferguson broke the tie with a layup with 3:04 in regulation. Newton lost the ball on the other end when the arrow on a held ball pointed Aquinas’ way. Dierks then hit one of two free throws. Dierks put Aquinas back up by six with a three-point play with 57.8 seconds in regulation. After one of two Stahly free throws, Cindrich hit a layup.?Lehman got Newton within four with a trey with 29.3 seconds in regulation.?After one of two Aquinas free throws, Stahly hit a trey with 10 seconds in regulation to get back within two. Aquinas missed a free throw, but a Stahly 35-foot shot at the buzzer missed.?“I’m going to look at the positives tonight — how, when we got down, we responded,” Jordan said. “We fought through some adversity tonight. It didn’t go our way. That’s basketball. Like I told them, ‘Life hands you adversity. How are you going to respond?’ We have one more to play tomorrow. We’ll enjoy the rest of the day and get ready for tomorrow.”?Newton plays Kapaun-Mt. Carmel for third place in a rematch of the third-place game of the Newton Invitational, won by the Railers 48-44. Kapaun fell to Mill Valley 34-32 in the state semifinals.
NEWTON (19-5) — Porter 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 0-4 0-0 0, Stahly 5-8 1-2 16, Hiebert 0-4 1-2 1, Lehman 5-11 5-6 16, Langley 2-7 1-2 5, Carlgren 1-4 0-0 2, TOTALS 13-38 8-12 40.?ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (23-1) — Fisher 1-3 0-1 3, Dierks 3-6 5-7 13, Loughman 1-1 0-0 2, Sweeney 0-2 0-0 0, Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0, Weledji 3-6 0-0 6, Cindrich 3-8 2-2 9, Ferguson 3-8 1-2 7, Young 1-2 0-0 2, TOTALS 15-36 8-12 42.?Newton 16 2 8 14 —40?St. Th.Aq. 10 16 5 11 —42?Total fouls — New. 15, STA 13. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — New. 6-10 (Stahly 5-8, Lehman 1-1, Langley 0-1), STA 4-8 (Fisher 1-1, Dierks 2-2, Weledji 0-2, Cindrich 1-3). Rebounds — New. 21 (Lehman 12), STA 29 (three with 5). Assists — New. 9 (Hiebert 5), STA 12 (Fisher 4). Turnovers — New. 9 (three with 2), STA 11 (three with 3). Blocked shots — New. 6 (Lehman 5), STA 1 (Loughman 1). Steals — New. 5 (Hiebert 3), STA 4 (Fisher 2).