NEWTON — As one of the top 3-point shooting teams in Class 4A, Newton’s Cardinals went inside-out against Norwalk’s Warriors Friday night. Newton head coach Nick Wilkins wanted his players to attack the basket more this season.
They did that early against the much taller Warriors. Norwalk’s 6-foot-8 junior Baylee Steele had six blocked shots in the game, most of them came in the first half. Newton trailed by seven points at halftime.
The Cardinals cut it loose in the third quarter. The Cardinals knocked down eight 3-pointers in the game — five of those were in a 23-11 third-quarter run to gain the lead. Newton kept the lead to notch a 57-48 victory.
“The game plan was to keep attacking, keep attacking in the first half. We attacked the rim really well, but we missed some bunnies that we typically hit,” said Nick Wilkins, Cardinal head coach. “In the second half, we went to runner — somethinwe put in for Norwalk because they play zone defense.”
That plan was to get Tyler Wood, who is among the top three 3-pointer shooters in Class 4A, open for outside shots. Wilkins said it worked in a couple of ways, Wood got shots and “they were so worried about Tyler, we got easy looks inside and other players got open looks from the outside.”
Wood and Chandler Sturtz each rang up three 3-pointers in the game. The Cardinals shot a blistering 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from 3-point range in the game. Sturtz hit two treys in the third quarter with Wood, Connor Gholson and Jwan Roush each draining one.
The win put the Cardinals at 4-4 in Little Hawkeye Conference action and 5-8 overall. Newton hosts Pella Christian Tuesday in a conference contest.
“This is huge because I don’t think Newton has swept Norwalk in a long time. This gives us a lot of momentum going into two winnable conference games this next week,” Sturtz said following the game.
Sturtz said the emphasis was on defense for the Cardinals. He said they knew the shots would start falling for them and they just needed to continue to play solid defense.
Newton broke out to a 9-2 lead then Norwalk responded with a seven-point run. It was 9-9 going into the second quarter. Joseph Banfield got two inside shots to fall for Newton in a back-and-forth game.
The Warriors out-scored the Cardinals 11-4 in the final five minutes of the second quarter. They led 24-17 at halftime and scored the first basket of the third period.
Sturtz triggered the run by the Cardinals with a 3-pointer at the 7:14 mark then Banfield scored inside. Wood hit a 3-pointer but Grant Wright sank a free throw to give Norwalk a 29-25 lead.
Devin Shores answered with a bucket for the Cardinals and it was Gholson’s trey that put Newton in front, 30-29. Shores followed by a basket. Roush’s trey at the 2:56 mark closed out a 13-1 run by the Cardinals.
Sturtz drained his second 3-pointer of the period to make it 38-31 and Nick Easley connected for the Cardinals. Newton took a 40-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals expanded that lead to 10 points by the 4:30 mark. The Warriors scored five unanswered then it came down to hitting free throws for Newton.
“Don’t miss,” Sturtz said was on his mind when he went to the line late in the game. “Down the stretch we were focused on not turning it over, getting a good shot if we were going to shoot it and just making free throws. Defense was a big key tonight for us.”
Newton cashed in 8-of-10 free throw attempts in the final two minutes to seal the win. Shores, Easley, Gholson, Sturtz and Wood each stepped to the line and made charities in that span.
“We do a lot of offensive-defensive substitutions at the end of games. I told those kids when they were getting ready to back in with about a minute left ‘you guys are going to win the game for us,’” Wilkins said. “They played tough defense and rebounded well for us. The whole game our kids came out and played team defense.”
Sturtz, who was 6-of-6 at the line, led all scorers with 15 points. Wood had 13 plus had four rebounds. Sturtz had four rebounds, two steals and three assists. The Cardinals shot 42.5 percent, 17-of-40, from the field overall and hit 15-of-23 free throw attempts.
Banfield and Jordan Travis each had four rebounds. Easley dished out five assists and Daquan Allen had four assists.
Wright finished with 11 points for Norwalk, which shot 37 percent, 18-of-49, from the field. Steele, who had 10 rebounds, and Norwalk’s 6-6 Michael Geistler each scored 10 points. The Warriors hit 10-of-17 from the free-throw line.
Norwalk — Wright 3-5-5-11, LaVelle 1-0-2-2, Rosonke 0-0-2-0, Steele 4-2-3-10, Albrecht 0/1-3-1-6, Lippert 0-0-1-0, Pappan 1/2-0-1-8, Geistler 5-0-3-10, Onken 1-0-3-2. TOTALS: 15/3-10-21-49.
Newton — Sturtz 0/3-6-2-15, Shores 2-1-2-5, Wood 1/2-2-3-13, Roush 0/1-0-1-3, Allen 1-0-1-2, Easley 2-4-2-8, Banfield 3-0-2-6, Gholson 0/1-2-1-5, Glotfelty 0-0-3-0, Travis 0-0-2-0. TOTALS: 9/8-15-19-57.