The Newton High School girls’ basketball team put together the game it’s been looking for this season with a 54-46 win over Salina Central Tuesday night in AV-CTL I play at Ravenscroft Gym.

Newton improves to 7-7, 4-3 in league play, while Central drops to 7-6, 3-3 in league play.

“We were talking on the bench earlier and that was probably the best performance over 32 minutes we have had this season,” Newton coach Justin Schneider said. “We talked about going out and being aggressive, defending 90 feet. We started hitting some shots. We were able to get the ball inside and kick out. We were getting our feet set. Teams are going to collapse around Desi(Ray Kernal). I thought we picked our times. We didn’t just jack threes. Our shot selection was good.”

The Railers were led by Megan Bartel with 15 points, hitting four of seven 3-pointers, three of three after the first quarter. Jenisa Cornejo added 14 points.

“They were really packed and defending the lanes really well,” Bartel said. “I feel like we had to win as a team and our defense had to play well. We just really came together as a team. … They are very, very good, so this is a very good win for us.”

“They can shoot the ball,” Schneider said. “Right now, it’s getting the good shots we wanted and not just forcing the shots. It’s being patient and working for good shots.”

DesiRay Kernal scored 12 points, hitting eight of eight from the line.

“She was aggressive,” Schneider said. “I told her to be patient and to get to the rim, where she can get those calls. She sometimes gets impatient, but she kept her composure and got to the line more often.”

Kadyn Cobb led Central with 20 points, hitting six of 12 from 3-point range. Aubrie Kierscht and Hampton Williams each added 12 points. The rest of the team was held to two points.

Newton and Central played to a 10-10 tie in the first quarter.

Both teams struggled with ball handling early in the second quarter. Central made a 7-2 run for the biggest lead in the game to that point. Newton replied with a 6-0 run capped by a Marah Zenner trey.

A Cobb 3-pointer with 57 seconds left in the half returned the lead to the Mustangs. A pair of Kernal free throws tied with 20.2 seconds left in the half tied the game 20-20.

After four lead changes in the third quarter, Newton pulled ahead by four on a Bartel trey. After one of two Central free throws, Kernal hit two free throws to put Newton up by five. Aubrey Kierscht hit a trey for Central with eight seconds remaining. Bartel answered with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put Newton up 36-31.

Newton opened the fourth quarter with a Cornejo trey. Central replied with a Kierscht trey.

Three of four Railer free throws and a Cornejo layup put Newton up by 10 with 3:50 in regulation. Delany Nash broke the Railer run four seconds later with one of two free throws. A Zenner layup put Newton up by 11, but two missed free throws prevented Newton from sticking in the dagger until Bartel hit a trey with 2:11 to play. Cornejo followed with two free throws.

“This was a tough couple of weeks,” Schneider said. “We realize we were there. Right now, without Amanda (Dorrell), her being sick, we rallied behind her. We’re waiting for her to get healthy.”

Newton also played without Mallory Seirer because of a concussion.

Newton travels to Hutchinson at 6 p.m. Friday at the Salt Hawk Activities Center. Hutchinson is 4-9 after a 63-30 loss to Derby. Newton won the first meeting between the two teams 42-34.

“It’s a rival game at their place,” Schneider said. “We have to bring the same energy. It’s tough without Amanda and Mallory, so we need to keep stepping up.”

SALINA CENTRAL (7-6, 3-3 AV-CTL I) — Opat 0 1-2 0, 1; Cobb 1 (6) 0-0 3, 20; Stewart 0 0-0 0, 0; Griffin 0 0-0 3, 0; Kierscht 1 (3) 1-2 1, 12; Nash 0 1-2 2, 1; Williams 6 0-2 3, 12; Sanderson 0 0-0 2, 0; TOTALS 8 (9) 3-8 14, 46.

NEWTON (7-7, 4-3 AV-CTL I) — Kei.Gillispie 1 1-2 1, 3; Anderson 0 1-2 0, 1; Bartel 1 (4) 1-2 1, 15; Antonowich 0 2-3 1, 2; Zenner 2 (1) 0-1 1, 7; Kernal 2 8-8 3, 12; Slechta 0 0-0 0, 0; Cornejo 3 (2) 2-2 2, 14; Entz 0 0-0 0, 0; Mwangi 0 0-0 0, 0; TOTALS 9 (7) 13-20 12, 54.