There are no easy games in the Little Hawkeye Conference. Newton High’s boys and coaches know this fact well. The Cardinals know they have to come ready to play each contest.
At home Tuesday, the Cardinals didn’t have their best game while visiting Norwalk’s Warriors had the hot hand offensively. The Warriors pulled away from the Cardinals in final 2:33, hitting 10-of-14 free throws to seal a 62-49 win.
Newton dropped to 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the Little Hawkeye Conference. Norwalk moved to 3-3 in conference play and to 6-5 overall.
Connor Gholson, who went into the game 27 points away from tying the Newton career-scoring record, finished with 18 points. He had six points at halftime.
“This league is really tough with good basketball teams. It takes being both mentally and physically tough to compete in it,” Newton head coach Bill Liley said. “We looked liked a mentally fatigued basketball team tonight. It showed as far as the physical nature of the game as we wore down a bit.”
The Cardinals played from behind in the first three minutes of the game. Down 9-5, Gholson drilled his first 3-pointer of the game for Newton. Josh Ventling went to the floor and made a save to Trey Vanderlaan, who drained a trey to give the Cardinals their first lead of the game, 11-9, with 3:53 on the clock.
Garrett Sturtz made it 13-9, but the Warriors got four consecutive points from Tyler Endres to forge a 13-13 tie. Newton’s Grayson Graham untied it with a 3-pointer to put his team up 16-13 at the end of the first period.
The game was tied at 18 when Gholson had a three-point play at the midway mark of the second quarter. The Cardinals stayed in front as Sturtz and Norwalk’s Luke Vaske traded 3-pointers. A bucket by Morgan Maher with 2:10 on the clock made it 26-23.
Vaske, who drained five 3-pointers for the Warriors nailed one at the buzzer to send the teams into halftime, deadlocked at 26-26. The Warriors grabbed the lead on an opening shot by Tyler Endres in the third and never relinquished it.
“We’re the smallest team in this league and Norwalk caught us on a night we were not able to withstand some of the swings the gave us tonight,” Liley said. “We’ll have better games.”
The teams were in a two-point to four-point contest in the third period. Sturtz sank two free throws with 30 seconds on the clock to make it 40-36 then Jacob Endres beat the third-quarter buzzer for a trey. Norwalk went into the fourth quarter leading, 43-36.
Norwalk pulled the ball out to start the fourth quarter. Liley said the Warriors used offensive rebounds, drives to the basket to get quick fouls and go to the free-throw line and hit free throws — all things a team does to extend the lead when it has an opponent on the ropes.
“Offensively, we couldn’t find a rhythm tonight. When we win the rebounding battle, we win games and that didn’t happen tonight,” Liley said.
Newton shot just 34 percent, 16-of-47, from the field which included an 8-of-27 night from beyond the 3-point arc. Norwalk shot 60 percent, 21-of-35, overall and went 6-of-10 from 3-point range. The Warriors cashed in on 14-of-21 free throw tries to the Cardinals’ 9-of-10.
Newton had 24 rebounds and Norwalk had 26, but scored on many of its offensive rebounds.
Sturtz had 17 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists for Newton. Gholson pulled seven rebounds. Ventling and Maher had two assists apiece.
Vaske finished with 23 points and Tyler Endres added 17 points. Bowen Born was 9-of-10 at the line on his way to 15 points.
“We’ve played a fairly tough schedule to get going on this and we had a bad game. We have to adjust and come out ready to play on Friday. I’m confident we will do that,” Liley said.
Newton plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Pella Christian, which handed Class 3A No. 2 Dallas Center-Grimes its first loss Tuesday 58-43, at Pella. Pella Christian is tied atop the Class 2A rankings
Gholson has 1,066 career points and is 10 away from tying the NHS all-time mark of 1,076 held by Tyler Wood.
Newton (FG/3-pt): Sturtz 3/2-5-4-17, Graham 0/2-0-4-6, Gholson 3/3-3-1-18, Vanderlaan 0/1-0–3-3, Ventling 1-1-4-3, Maher 1-0-4-2. TOTALS: 8/8-9-20-49.
Norwalk (FG/3-pt): Rosonke 1-0-2-2, Vaske 3/5-2-2-23, Born 3-9-1-15, J. Endres 1/1-0-1-5, Bowels 0-0-2-0, Moritz 0-0-1-0, T. Endres 7-3-2-17. TOTALS: 15/6-14-11-62.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org