GRINNELL — Knowing the game pace they want to play each time out, Newton High’s Cardinal boys have put themselves in position to win their last three games. They came up short in all three but Cardinal head coach Jason Carter is pleased with how his players are progressing.
Down by one point with 11 seconds remaining in the game, the Cardinals left two shots at the basket short and another shot up after the final buzzer on Friday night. Grinnell’s Tigers snatched a 41-40 Little Hawkeye Conference win from the Cardinals.
“We’re right there. Both of those shots I thought were going in,” Carter said. “The last three games we’ve had the opportunity to win. The kids have grown a lot and are understanding they can compete with these teams.”
The Cardinals have lost three road games — 61-56, 42-40 and 41-40 — in the past week. They are 1-3 overall and now 0-2 in LHC play. Grinnell (4-1) improved to 2-0 in conference play.
In a back-and-forth, low-scoring contest, Newton led by seven points late in the second quarter — 26-19 — and was up by six — 31-25 — in the latter stages of third quarter. Grinnell’s largest lead was five, 11-6, in the first quarter.
“The boys are doing a really good job of controlling the pace of the games for us. We don’t want to get into a track meet with teams. Grinnell wants to run up and down the court and score a lot of points. We held them to 41 points, giving ourselves an opportunity to win tonight,” Carter said.
In the first quarter, Adam Mattes and Noah Allen had back-to-back 3-pointers to give Newton a 12-11 lead. Grinnell’s A.J. Wilkins answered a trey then Jake Hull sank two free throws for a 16-12 Tiger lead.
Newton pushed to the lead on a 3-pointer and two free throws by Mattes to open the second quarter, 17-16. Kyle Long drilled a 3-pointer and Newton led 22-18 midway through the period. The Cardinals were up 26-22 at the break.
The Cardinals held off charges by the Tigers to hold the front position through the end of the third quarter, 33-32. Grinnell tied the game at 33-all on a free throw by Cole McGriff to open the fourth quarter.
Hull, who led all scorers with 23 points, and Matayas Durr had back-to-back baskets as the Tigers regained the lead, 37-33. Quintrail Coley had a basket for Newton and Mattes triggered in a 3-pointer and Newton was back up 38-37.
“Our defense kept us in it. Late in the fourth quarter, both teams had chances they didn’t capitalize on,” Carter said. Newton shot 32.5 percent, 14-of-43, from the field which included six 3-pointers.
Coley hit a free throw with 3:49 left to knot the score at 39-39. Newton gained possession of the ball at the 1:40 mark and worked the clock. Kaleb Dydell was fouled with 37 seconds left and hit 1-of-2 charities handing the Cardinals a 40-39 lead.
Hull drew a foul with 11.6 seconds on the clock. Hull, who was 8-of-10 at the line, dropped in both tosses for the Grinnell lead.
Each team went to the line 15 times during the game with the Tigers cashing in 10 of those free throws to the Cardinals made six.
Mattes finished with 16 points to pace the Cardinals. He hit three 3-pointers. Coley added 10 points and pulled down eight of the team’s 25 rebounds.
Allen had seven points and dished out four assists. Long finished with six points. Dydell had one point and grabbed six rebounds.
“We just need to stay with the process and continue to get better,” Carter said.
Newton has a week to prepare for LHC opponent Oskaloosa. The Cardinals host the defending Class 3A champion Oskaloosa Indians next Friday.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org