Newton survives scare from Winterset, prevails in OT
The Newton boys basketball team needs to stop being such a gracious host to weary teams traveling in the cold.
Coming off their near upset of Grinnell on Friday, the Cardinals (9-9, 4-8 Little Hawkeye Conference) were nearly upset themselves for the second time in three games when Winterset junior Cory Briney hit an NBA-range 3-pointer with three seconds left in regulation.
Unlike the loss against Chariton last week, however, Newton regained control in overtime and escaped with a 65-59 victory to keep its hopes of a winning season alive.
“We’ve had five games come down to the last possession, and unfortunately we’ve lost four of those five,” Newton coach Nick Wilkins said. “We came in cutting off penetration and forcing them to shoot 3’s, and sometimes the ball goes in for any team. Fortunately we hung on at the end.”
It was obvious the Huskies (1-18) had the green light to shoot as they hit a few 3-pointers early to keep pace with the Cardinals, who held a narrow 13-12 lead after the first quarter. Winterset’s touch would only get more refined as the game went along, which was something Newton learned the hard way.
“We were prepared for that. Or I should say we talked about it and went over it,” Wilkins said. “We knew they looked to get shots up whenever they can and just hope one night they get hot. Tonight was one of those nights.”
Newton kept the points coming in the second quarter, but the Huskies were right alongside them largely thanks to junior Ryan Scheetz, who had 10 in the second alone. Scheetz actually gave Winterset a temporary lead with a jumper to make it 22-21, bur four straight points from Newton senior Scott Nilles assured the Cards another narrow lead, 25-24, at halftime.
“In the first half we didn’t really come out to play, but we really controlled the second half,” Wilkins said. “We pretty much controlled the pace and did what we wanted to until about three minutes to go when they started hitting their shots.”
At first, the third quarter felt like it was going to be the point that the Cards pulled away for good. Senior Shamus Baltisberger began to score at will and some of Winterset’s deep 3’s that fell in the first half weren’t finding their targets. When Newton freshman Tyler Wood was fouled shooting a trey and hit the subsequent free throws, Newton led by nine and all appeared to be well.
Even as Winterset mounted its comeback in the fourth, it seemed as if Newton still had the game locked up. Junior CJ Caudle got some buckets down low for the Huskies and Newton was able to match them from the free-throw line, but when Briney started hitting from downtown, all the Cards could do was watch.
“I was trying to make a point between regulation and overtime that we weren’t closing out hard enough,” Wilkins said. “But in all honesty, after the game I told them they were closing out just fine. When someone starts hitting shots like that, there’s really not much you can do. I would let even the best shooters in the state shoot that with someone in their face.”
Briney hit a stepback three with 20 seconds left to put the score at 53-51, then when Newton converted only one of two free throws, he hit easily his deepest shot of the game with 3.6 seconds. Newton didn’t even get a potential game winner of its own when Winterset managed a steal and threw up a shot at the buzzer that missed its mark, but was way too close for comfort.
After Baltisberger and junior Andrew Clements got Newton going in OT, Briney hit one last three to signal the Huskies’ last threat of the game. The Cards took care of business on both ends of the floor after that sealed the win with a 5-for-8 performance from the charity stripe.
“It’s just kind of a situation thing where we had shots at the end of the fourth quarter and in overtime we probably shouldn’t have taken,” Wilkins said. “We had the lead, then missed some free throws and that’s a situation we need to start completely understanding. It was kind of an off night for us there, but we’ll learn and come back ready to play.”
The season-ending gauntlet continues for the Cards tonight when they host Nevada at 7:30 p.m. If Newton can win its final two games, it can wrap up its first regular-season winning record in 10 years, according to Wilkins.
Newton 65, Winterset 59
Score by quarter
W — 12 12 9 19 5 — 59
N — 13 12 19 10 9 — 65
W — Shamus 18, Clements 13, Rose 11, Wood 8, Miller 5, Reynolds 5, Nilles 4, Bates 1
N — Briney 21, Caudle 12, Nolan 10, Scheetz 10, Tucker 5, Gilliliad 3, Kaldenburg 1