Railer girls show improvement against KMC

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton senior Marah Zenner scored 14 points to lead the Railers in a 55-40 loss to 10th-ranked Kapaun-Mt. Carmel. Newton hosts Andover Central at 5 p.m. Friday.
Newton sophomore Olivia Antonowich drives on a Kapaun-Mt. Carmel player in the first round of the 45th Newton Invitational.
Newton junior Hayley Loewen goes after a loose ball during play in the 45th Newton Invitational.
Newton senior Lexi Valle-Ponds challenges Kapaun-Mt. Carmel defense during play Wednesday at Ravenscroft Gym.
Newton senior Katie Blaylock passes the ball Wednesday in the first round of the Newton Invitational.

The Newton High School girls basketball team saw some light at the end of the tunnel, staying with 10th-ranked (KBCA, Class 5A) Kapaun-Mt. Carmel for about 30 of 32 minutes before falling 55-40 Wednesday night in the opening round of the 45th Newton Invitational Tournament at Ravenscroft Gym.

Newton posted its highest offensive output of the season and shot 14 of 36 from the field, one of the team’s best shooting nights of the year.

“That’s the best we’ve played as a unit,” Newton coach Tavis Leake said. “The girls are starting to trust each other. They played hard. When they start to develop a basketball IQ, they are going to be pretty scary. That’s our second half win. We got a half against Salina South, the second half, and we won the first half tonight. When we can get two halves, we’ll be pretty successful. We worked together. Kapaun is a super good team. They worked together and they got some shots. I told the girls we can be scary, when they trust themselves.”

Senior post Jennifer Jacobs led 8-2 Kapaun with 24 points. Sophia Gimino scored 17 points.

Marah Zenner led Newton with 14 points. Lexi Valle-Ponds added eight points.

Newton jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Kapaun briefly took a lead at 10-9, but the Railers made a 5-0 run. Kapaun posted a late 3-pointer to get within one at the end of the quarter, 14-13.

Kapaun made a 9-3 run to start the second quarter. Newton pulled back within one on a Zenner jumper with 14 seconds left in the half. Gimino hit 1 of 2 free throws for the Crusaders to lead 25-23.

The Railers were 10 of 16 from the field in the first half. Kapaun was 10 of 22.

Newton regained a three-point lead in the third quarter when Valle-Ponds took a long rebound for layup and a free throw. Kapaun replied with a 14-2 run capped by a Kacey White layup with 0.3 seconds left in the period. White missed the free throw on the play, but Kapaun led 41-32 at the end of the quarter.

Newton opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a Camryn Entz 3-pointer. Newton missed chances to draw closer. Kapaun put the game away on a Gimino layup off a steal, followed by a pair of Lizzie Romer free throws, putting the Crusaders up by 12 with 2:08 to play.

Newton is 0-9 and plays top-ranked and unbeaten Andover Central at 5 p.m. Friday. Kapaun faces unbeaten Topeka High, the top-ranked 6A team, at 3 p.m. Friday.

“We’re ready to go,” Leake said. “We’re going to get right back to work. We’re going to watch some film and work on mistakes that we made and try to eliminate those. These girls are always fun to coach. Watching them improve is beautiful.”

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com

KAPAUN-MT. CARMEL GIRLS 55, NEWTON 40

Kapaun-MC;13;12;16;14;—;55

Newton;14;9;9;8;—;40

KAPAUN-MT. CARMEL (8-2) — Quigley 0 (1) 1-2 2, 4; Gimino 3 (2) 5-6 2, 17; Bina 0 0-0 0, 0; Romer 2 2-2 2, 6; Bezdek 0 0-0 3, 0; Sanders 0 0-0 1, 0; White 2 0-3 1, 4; Jacobs 8 (1) 5-6 3, 24; TOTALS 15 (4) 13-19 14, 55.

NEWTON (0-9) — Valle-Ponds 2 4-9 1, 8; Zenner 6 2-2 5, 14; Seidl 0 0-0 2, 0; Loewen 2 1-2 5, 5; Antonowich 0 (1) 2-2 2, 5; Koontz 0 (1) 0-0 0, 3; Hendrickson 0 0-0 0, 0; Entz 1 (1) 0-2 1, 5; Edwards 0 0-0 1, 0; Blaylock 0 0-0 0, 0; TOTALS 11 (3) 9-17 17, 40.