IOWA CITY — As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, the looks on the faces of the Newton players and coaches told the story — frustration.
Newton's boys capped off the best season in more than a decade with a 64-50 loss at the hands of Iowa City High's Little Hawks in the Class 4A, Substate 6 semifinal game Friday.
"We were talking about it after that we had goals coming into the year we wanted to complete," Newton head coach Nick Wilkins said. "We wanted to finish in the top half of the conference, have a winning season, host a first round game, win a first round game, and we accomplished all of them. I could not be more proud of all of these kids, nine through 12."
The Cardinals came out and executed their defensive gameplan, but rims were tight and shots would not fall. On most nights, the long range shots are an expectation for the Cards, but in what was a combination of bad luck and too much adreneline, Friday turned into an off-night.
"That's the frustrating part tonight. They played their hearts out, and shots that — not spectacular shots — shots that we typically hit just didn't fall for us. I've never seen, especially in the second half, shots go all the way down and pop out the way they did," Wilkins said. "I was telling the kids, 'basketball is awesome, but's that's why basketball can be one of the most heartbreaking things.'"
With four seniors on the team, Newton returns a good portion of its rotation for next year, including leading scorer Tyler Wood and leading assist man Nick Easley. Wilkins is looking forward to see the progression as those two enter their senior seasons.
Look for a full game report and more photos in Monday's edition of the Daily News.