The Newton High School girls’ basketball team passed its first major test of the new year, downing eighth-ranked (KBCA, Class 6A) Hutchinson 56-34 Tuesday in AV-CTL I play at Ravenscroft Gym.

Newton, ranked fourth in Class 5A, improves to 6-1, 3-1 in AV-CTL I play. Hutchinson falls to 4-1, 2-1 in league play.

“In the second half, every time they would challenge us, we would respond,” Newton coach Randy Jordan said. “We played one of the best first halves we’ve played this season, with the exception of a little lapse there in the last couple of minutes. They got within eight late in the game, but the girls responded again. We played pretty good defense on (Kasey Hazell). She’s hard to defend underneath the basket. Desi(Ray) Kernal had her most of the night and did well. This was,” overall, a good team effort.”

Newton was led by DesiRay Kernal with 22 points, followed by Jada Berry with 12.

“I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates for helping me tonight,” Kernal said. “We played well as a team. We were passing the ball well and I was getting some screens tonight. I’ve felt some nerves this season, but my teammates really helped me stay loose and relaxed tonight.”

Taylor Antonowich made her return from injury for Newton this season scoring two points.

Hutchinson was led by Kasey Hazell with 17 points, followed by Gabbie Posch with 10.

“(Hazell) is a lot different than the type of player I usually have to guard,” Kernal said. “I’m usually playing against guards. She’s a good player. She scored a lot of points.”

Aided by Hutchinson turnovers, Newton jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Newton hit three of its first four shots to start the game.

Hutchinson took a time out and got back in the game with a pair of Hazell layups to prompt a Railer time out. A Berry three-point play put Newton up 14-4 with 17.7 seconds left in the period. Hutchinson followed with a short jumper on the other end to get Hutchinson back within eight, 14-6, at the end of the period.

Hutchinson cut its turnovers from seven in the first quarter to three in the second, enabling the Salt Hawks to stay with the Railers in the period. A four-foot shot by Kernal at the buzzer put the Railers ahead 26-16 at the half.

Hutchinson finished the half with 10 turnovers to two for the Railers.

Newton opened the second half with an 8-2 run, missing chances to extend the lead even further. Hutchinson replied with a 6-0 run. Kyndal Bacon was fouled on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer, hitting two of the three free throws to put Newton ahead 36-24.

Hutchinson got back in the game in the fourth quarter with a Hazell three-point play to spark a 6-2 run. Newton broke the run with a Kernal three-point play, sparking a 13-0 Railer run to put the game out of reach.

The reserves played the last 82 seconds.

Newton hosts Salina South at 6 p.m. Friday.

“They are going to be a lot like Hutchinson was tonight,” Jordan said. “They are going to be long and physical. We’re probably going to face another zone. We just have to continue to play our game.”

HUTCHINSON (4-1, 2-1 AV-CTL I) — Krol 0 0-0 1, 0; Arbrust 0 0-0 0, 0; Williams 0 0-0 0, 0; Seidl 0 0-0 0, 0; Allen 0 1-2 3, 1; Yoder 0 0-0 0, 0; A.Hefley 0 0-0 0, 0; Posch 2 (2) 0-0 3, 10; Hazell 8 1-2 1, 17; Ontjes 0 0-0 3, 0; Bynum 0 0-0 1, 0; Buckaloo 1 1-2 1, 3; Robertson 0 (1) 0-0 0, 3; TOTALS 11 (3) 3-6 12, 34.

NEWTON (6-1, 2-1 AV-CTL I) — Simmons 4 0-1 0, 8; Anderson 0 0-0 0, 0; Bartel 0 0-0 0, 0; Nichols 0 0-0 0, 0; Bacon 3 2-3 2, 8; Kernal 10 2-3 2, 22; Berry 4 4-7 1, 12; Brewer 1 0-0 0, 2; L.Antonowich 0 0-0 0, 0; Dorrell 1 0-0 0, 2; T.Antonowich 1 0-0 2, 2; TOTALS 24 8-14 9, 56.

Hutchinson;6;10;8;10;—34

Newton;14;12;10;20;—56