OSKALOOSA — It was no secret going into Friday night's game that Oskaloosa senior Kena Veldhuizen was someone the Newton girls basketball team needed to focus on.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they ended up focusing on Veldhuizen for all the wrong reasons.
Scoring a game-high 27 points, many of which came directly off turnovers, Veldhuizen led the Indians to a largely one-sided 57-38 victory over the Cardinals (3-7, 0-3 Little Hawkeye Conference), who dropped their third-straight game.
"We had a game plan, and we kind of went away from it," Newton coach Brandon Sharp said. "We didn't execute the way we were in practice, and Veldhuizen is a very, very good player."
Although the Cards were able to keep up with Osky early in the game thanks to baskets from seniors Katelyn Camp and Michelle Marquis, Veldhuizen quickly took control with 3-pointers and steals for breakaway layups. She ended the first quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play to put the Indians up 17-8.
Things only got worse for the Cards in the second quarter as Veldhuizen managed more steals, which led to more breakaway layups. Although Newton managed a tough press for most of the quarter, the team struggled on the offensive end and didn’t score in the quarter until senior Kristin Samson hit a pair of free throws at the 1:14 mark. The Cardinals then took a 29-13 deficit into the locker room at halftime.
“We probably should’ve stayed in our press a little bit longer,” Sharp said. “Our girls maybe aren’t as accustomed to getting up and down the floor as we thought, but we’re going to stick to it. It gives us the best chance to win, and we will.”
The Cardinal offense started to find its stride early in the second half, but the Indians kept up their scoring as well. Marquis, Samson and Camp all added quick baskets, but Veldhuizen and fellow senior Taylor Crawford were there to answer each one with a bucket of their own.
Newton was able to improve its 17 percent shooting in the first half to 33 percent by the end of the game largely thanks to the third quarter, but the Cards also found themselves down 46-24 going into the fourth.
“In the second half we had a lot of nice things happen, but then we gave up something easy defensively and they were right back to answer on the other end,” Sharp said. “I really like our offensive continuity there, and we’re clearly a different team when we’re making shots. We will be more consistent from here on.”
Although the Cards got some nice contributions off the bench by sophomore Michaela Jacobsen and junior Lizzie Stock in the fourth quarter, Osky wasn’t giving up its lead anytime soon. Jacobson managed five points in the final quarter, which put her just behind Camp and Marquis, who shared the Cards’ scoring lead with six points,
Newton will host Pella on Tuesday still in search of its first conference victory. Beating the Dutch proved to a be a major catalyst for the Cards in the second half of last season, and Sharp is hoping to see some of the fire the team showed in that win last year.
“We don’t have the same group of girls we had before Christmas break,” Sharp said. “We don’t have that desire, passion or teamwork. We challenged them at halftime to find themselves, and we saw glimpses of that in the second half. Everyone needs to get on the same page, and we will do that.”
Oskaloosa 57, Newton 38
N — 8 5 11 14 — 38
O — 17 12 17 11 — 57
N — Camp 6, Marquis 6, Jacobsen 5, Samson 5, Stock 5, Rhoads 4, Jamieson 2, Kalkhoff 2, Latcham 2, Richtsmeier 1
O — Velhuizen 27, Crawford 7, Richardson 6, Christenson 4, Hasselman 4, Moyer 4, Zickefoose 3, McQueen 1, Shaull 1