SALINA — The Newton High School boys’ basketball team was able to stay with Salina Central most of the game, but the Mustangs were able to pull away in the final minute for a 62-58 win Tuesday night in the Class 5A sub-state semifinals in Salina.
Central, 15-6, takes on 17-4 Maize at 7 p.m. Friday in the finals. Newton ends the season 9-12.
“We just had a couple of possessions get away from us there,” Newton coach Andy Hill said. “We had had some people get lost defensively a couple of times. We had a couple of empty possessions on offense. I was proud of the way the guys responded tonight after a really tough week last week. They just came out with some fire on the road and put themselves in a position to win the game. They played their hearts out tonight. It just didn’t go our way.”
Newton lost to Central 63-42 Friday night in the regular-season finale. Neither team led by more than five points Tuesday.
Newton finished the game 23 of 37 shooting, while Central was 21 of 40. Newton was outscored 33-24 from 3-point range and 9-4 from the free throw line.
“Our shot selection was really good,” Hill said. “We were sharing the ball well. We put in a few from the perimeter, and that helped. We had a couple from Ty (Berry). We had one from Alex (Krogmeier). It was a product of sharing the ball and running the offense well. They are a very good shooting team. We knew that. Part of that is you have to guard your tails off and hope they miss a few. You can’t give up any open looks and they got a couple.”
Harper Williams led Central with 19 points. Mark Grammer added 14.
Ty Berry led Newton with 32 points. Damarius Peterson, who has been hampered by injury in recent weeks, added 10.
Down 9-4, Newton came back with a 5-0 run. Central finished the quarter on a 5-0 run capped by a David Grammer trey at the buzzer.
Newton opened the second quarter on a 9-3 run to take the lead. Newton led by four in the period, but Central as able to start hitting from the outside again to regain the lead. Mark Grammer hit a trey at the buzzer to keep Central up by five, 31-26.
Newton was 11 of 17 from the field in the first half, while Central was 12 of 23. Neither team took a free throw in the first half.
Berry opened the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers. Central came back with the next five points. A Berry trey with 40 seconds left in the period got Newton back within one. Quinton Stewart hit two of three free throws with 2.5 seconds left in the period to put Central up 38-35.
Newton got caught trading twos for threes early in the fourth quarter. A K.J. Hampton reverse layup on a feed from Alex Krogmeier got Newton to within one with 4:41 to play.
A Jamieson Jones layup was followed by a Berry slam and a Berry layup off steals to put Newton up by three with 3:20 left in regulation.
Williams hit a trey with 1:31 in regulation to put Central up by two. Newton turned the ball over with a minute to play, setting up one of two free throws for Mark Grammer. The rebound went out of bounds off a Newton player.
Mark Grammer hit two free throws with 46.2 seconds in regulation. Berry hit two of three free throws 10 seconds later, followed by two free throws for Williams.
Despite a four-point lead and no time outs for Newton, Central elected to defend Newton’s final shot in the last five seconds, and even made contact with the shooter, although no foul was called.
Newton loses one senior — guard Cailen Valdez, who played varsity all four years.
“I told the guys that I hope we use this last game to motivate them to get in the gym,” Hill said. “Just because we have guys back, that’s not going to guarantee anything. A lot of teams will have guys back. We have to work on getting better. We have to work on everything. We have to develop more shooters than we have currently. We have to get stronger in the weight room. We need more toughness. Some of that will come with physical maturity.”
NEWTON (9-12) — Presley 0 0-0 3, 0; Valdez 1 (1) 2-2 2, 7; Krogmeier 0 (1) 0-0 3, 3; Hampton 1 0-0 1, 2; Jones 2 0-0 1, 4; Berry 6 (6) 2-3 4, 32; Peterson 5 0-0 1, 10; TOTALS 15 (8) 4-5 15, 58.
SALINA CENTRAL (15-6) — Shaffer 1 0-0 0, 2; Richarson 0 (2) 0-0 0, 6; D.Grammer 0 (1) 0-0 0, 3; Stewert 0 (1) 2-3 0, 5; Speer 2 (1) 0-0 2, 7; Driver 0 0-2 2, 0; Williams 2 (4) 3-6 3, 19; M.Grammer 2 (2) 4-6 2, 14; Atherton 0 0-0 0, 0; Kickhaefer 3 0-0 0, 6; TOTALS 10 (11) 9-17 9, 62.