Season ends for Railer girls at Emporia

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton senior Marah Zenner gets stripped of the ball going up for a shot during play Tuesday in Emporia.
Newton senior Alexis Valle-Ponds challenges a shot during play Tuesday in Emporia.
Newton freshman Abigail Koontz guards Emporia junior Gracie Gilpin during play Tuesday in Emporia.
Newton junior Hayley Loewen tries to defend an Emporia shooter Tuesday in play at Emporia.
Newton sophomore Piper Seidl guards Emporia sophomore Rebecca Snyder during play Tuesday in the Class 5A sub-state semifinals. Snyder scored 18 points in a 62-16 Emporia win.

EMPORIA — The season came to an end for the Newton High School girls basketball team in a 62-16 loss to Emporia on Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Class 5A sub-state in Emporia.

Now the real work begins for the Railers and first-year head coach Tavis Leake, who will try to build on the team’s 2-19 record.

“The girls never stopped fighting,” Leake said. “I’m so proud of them. They never gave up the entire year. They showed up ready to work every single day. I’m excited to work with them and get them prepared for next year. I started super late, so I only got maybe two or three times in the gym with them. I’m excited to get in the gym with them this summer and try and get some games in. We’ll be just working to improve.

“Our girls are going to have to want it. These teams we play work super hard all year round. I’ve talked to them and they are ready to work, so I’m super excited.”

Newton loses four seniors — Alexis Valle-Ponds, Marah Zenner, Maylee Edwards and Kati Blaylock, along with foreign exchange student Cecelia Merlini.

“They are leaders and they are good kids,” Leake said. “To be their fourth coach in four years, they have come to compete. I couldn’t ask for anything else. Kati Blaylock, she’s an awesome leader and improved all season. Maylee Edwards is a tough kid. She will fight for me. Marah Zenner stepped up as a leader. She improved as a basketball player and a leader. Lexi, there’s so much I can say about how hard she plays, the effort she gives even when I give her a hard time. … I’m a crazy guy sometimes, and they trust me. It kind of brings a tear to my eye.”

Emporia was led by Gracie Gilpin with 21 points and Rebecca Snyder with 18, all in the first half.

Zenner and Olivia Antonowich each scored four points to lead the Railers.

Newton turned the ball over on its first two possessions, falling behind 4-0. Zenner hit two free throws with 5:42 remaining in the first half to break the shutout. Newton trailed 18-7 at the end of the period.

Newton was outscored 9-2 to start the second quarter. A Gilpin layup in the final second put Emporia up 33-10 at the half. 

Emporia hit its first three shots of the second half, all 3-pointers. Zenner broke the run with a layup. Newton trailed 51-14 at the end of the quarter. The final period was played with a running clock.

Emporia improves to 14-7 and plays in the sub-state finals at 7 p.m. Friday.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at




NEWTON (2-19) — Valle-Ponds 1 1-2 1, 3; Zenner 1 2-4 1, 4; Seidl 0 0-0 1, 0; Lowen 1 0-0 2, 2; Antonowich 1 2-4 3, 4; Koontz 0 (1) 0-2 2, 3; Aveda 0 0-0 0, 0; Hendrickson 0 0-0 0, 0; Entz 0 0-0 1, 0; Edwards 0 0-0 0, 0; Hernandez 0 0-0 3, 0; TOTALS 4 (1) 5-12 13, 16.

EMPORIA (14-7) — Gilpin 3 (5) 0-0 1, 21; Kirmer 2 (1) 0-0 2, 78; Christensen 0 0-0 2, 0; Adams 1 (1) 0-2 3, 5; Peak 0 0-2 1, 0; Stewart 0 0-0 0, 0; Wiltz 1 1-1 0, 3; Baker 0 (2) 0-0 4, 6; Herfkens 1 0-0 0, 2; Guiterrez 0 0-0 1, 0; Garcia 0 0-0 1, 0; Snyder 8 2-4 1, 18; TOTALS 16 (9) 3-9 16, 62.