EL DORADO — The Newton Railers overcame an early 10-point deficit to beat Manhattan CHIEF 92-81 in the first round of the 52nd annual Bluestem Tournament in El Dorado on Thursday afternoon.
The Railers (4-6) never panicked as CHIEF shot well early on and made big turnovers when needed.
MH CHIEF, a homeschool team out of Manhattan, were a late addition to the tournament, and they play in the Home School league. The film on homeschool teams is rare and sometimes difficult to obtain.
“It’s tough going in blind,” Newton head coach Andy Preston said. “I thought we did a good job with what we knew.”
CHIEF jumped out to a 16-6 lead midway through the first on a bucket from Pat White. It wasn’t until Rau Saucedo hit a three to end the quarter and that’s when the Railers made their move.
They tied it up when Jaxon Brackeen hit a jumper, tying it up minutes into the second quarter at 22-all.
The Railers took their first lead when Elijah Edwards drained a three from the left side, giving Newton a 29-27 lead with 5:23 to go until halftime.
After CHIEF battled back to take the 42-41 lead with 11 seconds to go until halftime, it was Edwards hitting another three, giving the Railers a 44-42 lead at the break.
“We always say, first to 100,” Preston said.
Kolyn Sauceda hit a bucket to start the half and Dylan Petz nailed a three and the Railers were on their boats to the winner’s circle.
Four different players contributed as Newton went on a 11-5 run, making the lead double digits. Edwards, Petz and Krogeimer all hit 3s over the run, giving Newton a 68-58 lead with 2:14 to go in the quarter.
CHIEF made a run, cutting it to a 2-point Newton advantage after the quarter, on back-to-back buckets from Cody Mericle.
Newton put the game away in the fourth though. They went on a 13-4 run giving Newton the 86-72 lead with 4:40 to go in the game.
“We switched to a man-to-man,” Preston said. “That and our on-ball pressure really helped us.”
The Railers will move on to play second-seeded Collegiate at 7:45 p.m. Friday night at El Dorado High.
“That’s going to be tough,” Preston said. “We’ll go back and watch film and put our best plan forward.”