Although it was much closer than the first time the two teams met on Jan. 11, the Newton girls basketball team just couldn’t figure a way around Oskaloosa once again.
The Cardinals (7-12, 2-8 Little Hawkeye Conference) chipped away at the Indians’ lead for most of the game, getting as close as four points, but weren’t able to finish the job, falling 54-41 Tuesday night.
“We got it close, but then we had some mental errors on defense and allowed them to push it right back up,” Newton coach Brandon Sharp said. “But I’m happy with the effort our girls always give.”
It looked like it could be a long night as Oskaloosa senior Kena Veldhuizen, who lit the Cards up for 27 points last game, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game. However, the Newton defense clamped down and closed the gap thanks to five quick points from senior Kaylie Rhoads and three from senior Michelle Marquis. However, a three at the buzzer put Osky up 16-8.
“Our focus was on her because she’s just a really good player,” Sharp said of Veldhuizen. “Her talents just carry her team and we didn’t have an answer for that.”
Although Newton held Veldhuizen scoreless in the second, the Indians got a boost from seniors Taylor Crawford and Allie Christenson. Newton got as close as four points after a coast-to-coast layup by senior Kristin Samson and a 3-pointer from senior Kalkhoff, but Osky stretched its halftime lead back to eight with two late buckets.
The second half proved to be a dogfight throughout as Osky poured on a balanced scoring attack, but Rhoads countered with 10 points of her own in a short stretch and Marquis hit another trey to keep things close. Frustration built up for the Cards, however, as a late technical foul on the bench turned into a four-point Indian swing that extended their lead to 40-29.
“Defensively, we played as a unit in those stretches,” Sharp said. “We showed glimpses of what our true defense is, and our bench brought a lot of energy when it stepped on the floor. That’s what we need no matter who we have playing.”
Newton was able to chip away at the Osky lead here and there in the fourth, but never got any closer than eight points. The game turned into a free throw contest in the final few minutes with Newton’s foul strategy backfiring when it sent Osky sophomore Taylor Richardson to the line. The Indians went 5-for-6 in the final attempts to ice the game.
“We started fouling, and the girl we were fouling was shooting 20 percent on the year,” Sharp said. “She goes 3-for-4, but that’s just the way this game can be. When someone who shoots that poorly at the line starts making them, that just kind of seals it and speaks a lot for the rest of the game.”
Rhoads led all scorers with 17 points, and the team with seven rebounds. The Cardinals will stay busy this week when they host Senior Night against Knoxville Thursday and wrap up the regular-season schedule against Pella on Friday.
Oskaloosa 54, Newton 41
O — 16 7 17 14 — 54
N — 8 7 14 12 — 41
O — Veldhuizen 16 Crawford 13, Christenson 11, Zickefoose 6, Richardson 3, Hasselman 2
N — Rhoads 17, Marquis 6, Samson 6, Kalkhoff 5, Jacobsen 3, Camp 2. Latcham 2