The Newton High School girls’ basketball team went from five points shy of starting the 30-point running clock to fighting for survival in a 53-40 win over Dodge City Tuesday night in the season opener at Ravenscroft Gym.
“I was really pleased with our half-court defense, but we let up a little bit when we got the lead,” Newton coach Justin Schneider said. “We have a lot of young players out there. A lot of inexperience at the varsity level right now. Througout the year, we’re going to get better. We did a great job of playing with a lot of energy. It’s easy to get up for your first game at home. Now it’s just putting those halves together.”
The win was Schneider’s first as a head coach.
“I’m blessed,” Schneider said. “These girls are amazing. The last couple weeks, we’ve had a lot of energy in practice. The kids were encouraging each other. Those are the things a coach can be excited about. It’s all the girls, the work they do. … I feel like the girls have done a good job responding to me. I have known several of them over the years when I was coaching the boys. Having that familiarity helps.”
DesiRay Kernal led the Railers with 19 points. Megan Bartel added 10.
“I feel like we did better than we thought,” Kernal said. “We could do a better job of finishing. We got great support from our bench. We did pretty good driving, getting passes free. The coach said during halftime, ‘Don’t let up, don’t let up.’ And they came out and hit four threes. We just have to stop them. We need to pick it up when they do that.”
A four-year starter who played extensively in the summer, along with playing volleyball in the fall, Kernal said her conditioning was pretty good for the start of the season.
“That just get’s me ready for this,” she said.
Kernal said she is still deciding over her college plans and hopes to make that decision shortly.
“My biggest goal is to be consistent,” Kernal said. “Our goals team-wise is to go out keep going forward and show people what we’re capable of. We lost a lot of good seniors, but we are still very athletic.”
Kernal said the adjustment to a new coach and new system has been smooth so far.
“I think everyone misses coach (Randy) Jordan, but coach Schneider has been great,” Kernal said. “Coming into the season, we’ve had some new sets and some new practice sets, but he contributes to making us better. He is making adjustments as well to us.”
Sophomore Kisa Unruh led 1-1 Dodge City with 18 points, hitting four 3-pointers in the second half.
Newton jumped out 11-5 in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the game. Dodge City took a time out, but Newton added seven more points to the run, leading 18-5 at the end of the quarter.
Newton scored the first four points of the second quarter. Alisa Solis broke the run with a putback with 6:01 left in the half to stop Newton’s 19-0 run overall. Newton led 30-12 at the half.
Newton finished the half 11 of 25 shooting while Dodge City was five of 23. The Red Demons finished the half two of six from the line.
Newton made a 9-2 run to open the third quarter. Down 25, Dodge City finally started hitting from the outside to get within 14 at the end of the period, 47-33.
Dodge City’s Camree Johnson was ejected after a scrum with 4:06 left in the quarter.
Newton went from five turnovers in the first half to five in the third quarter.
Newton turned the ball over on its first two possessions of the third quarter, setting up an Unruh tray.
Mallory Seirer hit a 3-pointer for Newton with three minutes to play to break the Railer drought and put Newton back up by 14. Dodge City came back with a pair of Solis layups to get within 10. Seirer replied with a layup for the Railers with 1:11 to play.
“That’s a great team,” Schneider said. “They’re well coached. They made their run. We were lucky to hold on to it.”to
Newton plays at 6 p.m. Friday at Goddard Eisenhower, which fell to Maize 64-42 Friday in the opener for the Tigers. Eisenhower trailed 25-24 at the half, but was outscored 39-18 in the second half.
“I don’t much about them,” Schneider said. “They played last week. Our focus was on Dodge tonight. Right now, early on, I’m more concerned about what we do.”
DODGE CITY (1-1) — Armstrong 1 0-0 0, 2; Guiterrez 0 0-0 0, 0; Johnson 0 1-2 2, 1; Unruh 3 (4) 1-2 4, 19; Perez 1 0-0 0, 2; Gleason 0 (2) 0-0 2, 6; Okoro 1 0-0 3, 2; Garcia 0 0-0 0, 0; Edwards 0 0-0 0, 0; Solis 4 0-1 1, 8; TOTALS 10 (6) 2-5 12, 40.
NEWTON (1-0) — Kei.Gillispie 0 0-0 0, 0; Anderson 1 0-0 3, 2; Bartel 1 (2) 2-4 2, 10; Antonowich 2 1-2 2, 5; Zenner 2 0-0 2, 4; Kernal 4 (2) 5-6 1, 19; Slechta 0 0-0 0, 0; Cornejo 2 0-0 1, 4; Seirer 1 (1) 0-0 1, 5; Dorrell 2 0-0 1, 4; TOTALS 15 (5) 8-12 13, 53.
Technical foul — DC: Johnson.