The Newton boys basketball team needed something to get its mind off a 64-30 loss to Norwalk on Friday night, but after Monday, it will have to keep looking.
Trailing by just four points at halftime, the Cardinals (2-2, 0-1 Little Hawkeye Conference) let Marshalltown slip away in the third en route to a 59-40 loss that dropped Newton back to .500 in the young season.
"The second half tonight was pretty similar to Norwalk," Newton coach Nick Wilkins said. "It basically comes down to us doing the things we put in place before the game about how to execute. With teams like this and their personnel, this is what's going to happen if you don't."
Marshalltown senior Blake Gimbel put together one of the state's best passing games in football this year, and he translated that skill to basketball against the Cardinals Monday night. In a low-scoring 9-5 first quarter, Gimbel had seven of those points for the Bobcats. The Cardinals, meanwhile, got an early look at a successful night for the bench as juniors Daquan Allen and Ryan Thompson scored to keep pace early.
Newton's most balanced performance of the game came in the second quarter, largely thanks to eight points by Allen in the frame. At one point, he scored four straight to tie the game at 13-13 before Marshalltown regained the lead on a three-point play. Marshalltown senior Blake Judkins hit two 3-pointers in the closing minute, but Allen and Thompson both responded to put the Bobcat lead at just 24-20.
“We were playing defense, rebounding and just executing,” Wilkins said of the Cardinals’ play in the second quarter. “We have some really good sets that get open looks, and Daquan got most of his shots from those sets. When you stop executing those, you can’t get to a good spot.”
After taking the second quarter off, Gimbel decided to take the game back for Marshalltown. He opened the quarter with a wide-open layup, then hit a three on his next trip down the floor to put the Cards back down by nine. Although the Cards’ offense was picking up steam thanks to senior Jesse Bates, the Bobcats just kept coming and eventually dropped 22 points in the quarter for a 46-34 lead going in the last frame.
“Right out of the gate we don’t talk on a back screen and they get an easy layup, then we leave their best player open for a wide open three,” Wilkins said. “That’s a 5-0 run right there, and that was basically the whole third and fourth quarter. They’re a pretty good shooting team that will beat you if you give open looks, and they had plenty of them tonight.”
Things only got worse in the fourth as a hurried Newton squad started turning the ball over too many times. Marshalltown allowed just six points to the Cards in the fourth quarter, squashing any kind of hopes for a comeback.
The silver lining for Newton in the game was the strong play off the bench. Allen led the team with 14 points, while Thompson finished with six. Sophomore Nick Easley also saw some bigger minutes than usual, finishing with two points and a handful of a hustle plays that kept Newton possessions alive.
“We’ve told the kids all along that we want to find the ones that will go out there and compete,” Wilkins said. “If that’s our first five, our 11-15 or whatever, we’re going to find those guys. You’ll find someone like Daquan or Thompson tonight that did a great job coming in.”
The Cards will host Pella Christian on Friday.
Marshalltown 59, Newton 40
M — 9 15 22 13 — 59
N — 5 15 14 6 — 40
M — Gimbel 21, Judkins 18, McDowell 7, Hillygus 6, Kluver 5, Johnson 2
N — Allen 14, Bates 7, Thompson 6, Wood 6, Hill 4, Easley 2, Miller 1