In addition to the recently-released Little Hawkeye Conference all-conference lists, the Newton girls basketball team also recently held it season-ending banquet.
There, seven more Cardinals picked up awards for the team’s 8-14 season that ended with a tough last-second loss at Des Moines Hoover on Feb. 13.
Repeating her award from last season was senior Kaylie Rhoads, who was named team MVP. Rhoads has now led the team in scoring for the past three seasons, recording a mark of 11.8 points per game in her senior campaign.
She also led the team in assists (57), steals (62) and rebounds (113), more than justifying her MVP status. Her steal total was also third in the conference, while her scoring average was fifth and her rebound total was 10th. Rhoads’ stats reflect the versatility in her game that allowed her to take over games for the Cardinals, especially if the team as a whole was having a slow night.
Also repeating her award from last year was senior Kristin Samson, who earned another Defensive Player of the Year award for her trophy case. Samson earned the award last season after actually saying in the huddle how much she enjoyed playing defense, and she lived up to that reputation this year. Recording 28 steals, Samson was also a key cog in the team’s press and halfcourt traps.
After scrapping her way into a few starts and some key minutes off the bench throughout the season, sophomore Sarah Kalkoff received the team’s Floor Burn Award for her hustle and effort. Kalkhoff finished third on the team with 4.8 rebounds on top of contributing 3.1 points per game and shooting 56 percent from the free-throw line, but her main contributions were the usually unnoticed ones in the middle of the play. Standing 5-foot-7, Kalkoff was usually charged with defending opponents’ post players. And despite the usual height discrepancy, she was usually able to either alter a shot or pull down the rebound.
Receiving the Practice Player of the Year Award were seniors Amanda Richtsmeier and Micaela Sciarrotta. The two multi-year members of the team saw limited time on the court this season, but obviously made their impact on the program through their efforts behind the scenes.
For that hard work, however, both players received starts on Senior Night, when Sciarrotta led off the Cardinals’ scoring with a bucket and eventually finished with four points for the raucous cheering section that was there for her. Richtsmeier actually saw the floor in 20 of the Cardinals’ 22 games, usually providing tough defense when the starters needed a breather.
Earning the team’s Most Improved Awards was the trio of Sciarrotta, sophomore Shelby Gray and senior Anna Latcham. After coming off the bench for most of last season, Latcham was a fixture in the Cardinals’ starting lineup this year. She finished with an average of 2.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game using her aggressiveness to battle with opponents in the post. Much like Kalkoff, Latcham was usually shorter than who she was guarding, but still managed plenty of defensive pressure.
Gray was a key off the bench for the Cardinals early in the season before she missed some games down the stretch. Despite seeing limited minutes in her freshman campaign, Gray was able to manage 3.1 points per game this year and serve at the team’s go-to offensive source in the post. She finished sixth on the team in rebounds with 55 total, and also contributed four blocks.