BUHLER — The Newton High School boys’ basketball team nearly got run out of the gym in the first half against the Buhler Crusaders Tuesday in Buhler.
Down by as many as 13, the Railers rallied for a 66-55 win.
Newton won the final three quarters, including a 31-16 fourth quarter.
“We really didn’t make a ton of adjustments at halftime,” Newton coach Andy Hill said. “Everyone had to just focus on the game plan we had in place. We were doing a good job defensively, we just weren’t finishing possessions. We missed a lot of layups in the first half. I told the guys to keep attacking the rim. The guys just believed in what we were doing.”
Newton was led by Ty Berry with 30 points, 16 in the fourth quarter. Berry was 12 of 12 from the line in the second half and 15 of 17 for the game.
“We played a lot better on defense and stopped turning the ball over on offense,” Berry said. “We started doing all the little things. We started playing better on the boards. We shot well from the free throw line. They have some pretty good big men. We had to start getting them out of the paint. They were hitting from everywhere in the first half. We had to play better defense on them.”
Cailen Valdez added 18 points, 12 in the second half.
“They weren’t helping off Ty, so there were some open lanes tonight,” Hill said. “Cailen was taking advantage of that, attacking and finishing off at the rim. He took the game over for a little stretch.”
Damarius Peterson locked up in a battle with Buhler’s 6-foot-8 senior Grant Owens. Both players finished with 12 points. Peterson scored 10 in the second half. Owens scored eight in the second half and finished with four blocked shots.
“(Owens) is a big body and probably one of my hardest assignments of the year,” Peterson said. “He’s a great athlete. I love playing against him in the summer. I just got after it and did my work. I knew it was going to be a struggle. He’s improved over past years. I just came out in the second half.”
“That’s the best post defense I’ve seen Damarius play since I’ve been here,” Hill said. “That’s the most active, keeping his feet moving, not letting himself get sealed. He worked his butt off tonight in an area he’s struggled with.”
One of the x-factors for Newton was the return of Jamieson Jones from a dislocated clavicle during the football season. Jones scored four points in the second half and got stronger on the defense end and on the boards as the evening progressed.
“It’s been a while,” Jones said. “I got hurt about two months ago. I was wondering how well I could play tonight. I’m still working to get back into shape. I’m still a little out of shape. I’ll have to put in work every day.”
“I don’t care what the score was. I don’t care if we’re down by 20, I just want us to have a good game,” Peterson said. “Having Jamieson back really helped because he’s a great rebounder and a great teammate.”
“(Jones) worked hard tonight,” Hill said. “He was getting loose balls. He was rebounding. It was nice just to have him back. He’s an extra body to add a little more depth. He gives us a lot with just his physical presence and mental toughness.”
Dalton Brown scored 12 points for the Crusaders, 3-2.
Newton fell behind 10-0 early. The Railers got within six, 13-7, but then gave up a 6-0 run. A pair of Alex Krogmeier free throws got Newton within 10 at the end of the period, 19-9.
Neither team scored for the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second quarter. After giving up a trey to start the period, Newton scored the next seven points. After another Buhler trey, Krogmeier hit a putback with two seconds left in the half to get Newton back within seven, 25-18.
Damarius Peterson opened the second half with a layup, but Buhler came back with a 7-0 run to prompt a Railer time out. Newton drew within six on a Jamieson Jones layup with 3:21 left in the quarter. Newton missed several chances to get closer until Valdez hit a three-point play with 2:16 left in the period. A Jones layup with a minute to play got Newton to within one. Adam Schrag hit a trey at the buzzer to put Buhler up by four, 39-35.
Peterson scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, but Buhler jumped back out by as many as six. Valdez tied the game with a layup with 3:55 left in regulation, but missed a free throw. He then converted a steal into a three-point play 19 seconds later to put tje Railers in the lead.
A Jones layup followed by a Berry layup put Newton up by six with under two minutes to play. A pair of Valdez free throws with 56.7 seconds to play put Newton up by eight. Seven seconds later, Drake Dick drained a trey for Buhler. Newton replied with two free throws for Peterson and four more for Berry to put the game away.
“Just to stick with it and play one possession at a time is something you always preach,” Hill said. “We finished well. We hit free throws. We got fouls. We got rebounds.”
Newton, 2-4, takes on 1-3 Hutchinson at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 2 at Ravenscroft Gym.
“Both teams will be in the same boat, so it could be a little rough at the start,” Hill said. “I don’t know much about them. They have a new coach.”
NEWTON (2-4) — Presley 0 0-0 0, 0; Valdez 6 6-9 0 0, 18; Krogmeier 0 2-2 1, 2; Hampton 0 0-0 0, 0; Jones 2 0-1 3, 4; Berry 6 (1) 15-17 3, 30; Peterson 5 2-2 3, 12; TOTALS 19 (1) 25-31 10, 66.
BUHLER (3-2) — Da.Brown 1 (3) 1-1 5, 12; Schrag 0 (3) 0-0 1, 9; Dick 0 (2) 0-0 5, 6; Smyres 4 1-1 4, 9; Cook 0 0-0 0, 0; Dy.Brown 1 3-4 4, 5; LaShore 1 0-0 1, 2; Dreher 0 0-0 3, 0; Owens 6 0-0 2, 12; TOTALS 13 (8) 5-6 25, 55.