NEWTON — Foul trouble was a key factor in Tuesday’s Little Hawkeye Conference contest between Newton’s Cardinals and Pella Christian’s Eagles. Newton’s girls had cracked the win column for the first time in the season in the first meeting of the two teams at Pella.
On their home court, the Cardinals went on the attack early against “the best shot-blocker in the conference,” said Cardinal head coach Brandon Sharp. It paid off as 6-foot-2 post player Hannah Beltman was one of three Eagle players in early foul trouble.
Beltman and guard Tessa Howerzyl and Brooke Mitrisin were hampered with fouls early and spent a lot of time on the Eagle bench in the first half. The Cardinals took full advantage, bolting to a 27-17 halftime lead.
Newton sustained its lead in the second half, claiming a 47-36 win over Pella Christian. It was the second win in a row at home in as many games for the Cardinals, who moved to 5-4 in LHC play and 5-11 overall. The Eagles slipped for the fourth time in a row, going to 6-10 overall and 3-6 in conference.
“The foul trouble in the first half hurt us. Our two best players (Beltman and Howerzyl) sat most of the first half. We fell behind and never could catch up,” said Kevin Van Maanen, PC head coach.
Newton used steals and Pella Christian turnovers to lead 6-5 at the 4:20 mark. Beltman went out of the game with two fouls 30 seconds before that and Howerzyl followed with three fouls two minutes later.
Trailing 9-8, the Cardinals went on a six-point run with Sydney Jenkins and Lizzie Stock each hitting a basket and Michaela Jacobsen downing two free throws. Newton led 14-9 at the conclusion of the period.
The Cardinals were up 18-13 when Hannah Rhoads dialed up a 3-pointer with 3:37 left in the second quarter. Jenkins and Jacobsen each hit a free throw. Mitrisin earned her third personal foul and went to the Pella Christian bench with 2:19 on the clock.
Newton held a 27-17 halftime advantage.
“We discussed that we needed to come out strong. Sometimes after half, we have a lull,” said Jacobsen. “We wanted to keep pressuring on defense and sticking together as a team. Our attitude and play was consistent the whole game.”
Newton answered each challenge Pella Christian tried to mount in the second half. The Eagles shaved two points off the gap by outscoring the Cardinals 10-8 in the third quarter.
Jacobsen opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a basket. Howerzyl drained a 3-pointer for the Eagles and Lauren Jungling hit two free throws to pull her team to within five, 37-32, with 5:51 left to play.
The Cardinals kept attacking the with Jacobsen getting two buckets. Sarah Kalkhoff was fouled after pulling a rebound and tossed in two free throws. That put the Cardinals back up by 10 points, 43-33, with 3:56 on the clock.
Jungling, who is Pella Christian’s top 3-point shooter, hit her only trey of the game. Newton took a timeout at the 2:50 mark. The Cardinals came out in a passing game to work for layups and force the Eagles to foul the Cardinals to stop the clock.
Pella Christian had just four team fouls at the time. It took a minute off the clock before Jenkins was sent to the free-throw line for a one-and-one. Jenkins hit both ends. Howerzyl could not do the same at the other end, and Newton’s Rhoads grabbed the defensive rebound.
Jacobsen missed a bonus situation at the line with less than a minute to play. The Eagles failed to convert and Rhoads, who led Newton with eight rebounds, controlled another defensive board. She walked to the line with 39.2 seconds, sank both charities to seal the win for the Cardinals.
“Defense was a big key tonight. In the first half our game plan was to attack and we got the best shot-blocker in the conference in foul trouble,” Sharp said. “We held their point guard to seven points and Jungling to five. That’s pretty good defense.
“We were disciplined on offense. Our girls never let up tonight and play a focused game.”
Rhoads and Jacobsen each fired in 13 points for the Cardinals. Newton shot 32 percent, 15-of-47, from the field. The Cardinals cashed in on 16-of-20 free throw attempts.
Jacobsen made three steals and Jenkins handed out two assists. Shelby Gray and Kalkhoff each controlled six rebounds.
Howerzyl led the Eagles with seven points, hitting two threes. Mitrisin, Autumn Vos and Beltman each added six points. Pella Christian was 11-of-16 from the free-throw line.
Newton is at Knoxville and Pella Christian hosts Oskaloosa Friday in Little Hawkeye Conference play.
In the junior varsity game Tuesday, Pella Christian won 43-41 in overtime when Marina Shannon nailed a 3-pointer with four seconds left. Newton was led by Macy Leonard with 15 points and Jessica Reynolds with 10 points.
Pella Christian — Shannon 0-2-3-2, Anderson 0-0-1-0, Howerzyl 0/2-1-5-7, Mitrisin 3-0-4-6, Nicholson 1-0-1-2, Vos 1-4-1-6, Jungling 0/1-2-2-5, Beltman 2-2-2-6, Huisman 1-0-2-2. TOTALS: 8/2-11-21-38.
Newton — Jenkins 3-3-2-9, Stock 3-0-1-6, Hutchinson 1-0-2-2, Rhoads 2/1-6-1-13, Gray 1-0-3-2, Jacobsen 4-5-3-13, Kalkhoff 1-0-2-2. TOTALS: 14/1-16-14-47.