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Column

Jasper County milestones

Jasper County athletes have met a bunch of milestones this winter. And plenty of teams have made marked improvements from last year.

The Newton boys' basketball team went 0-20 last year but is 6-8 right now. The Cardinals are led by a talented group of sophomores in Adam Mattes and Noah Allen, who are both averaging around 13 points per game.

Baxter's boys' basketball team is 11-5 so far. The Bolts were 11-10 all of last year. They have been led by senior Cole Damman, who is averaging 22.8 points, five assists and three steals per game.

Damman went past the 1,000-point mark earlier this season. His points per game average ranks 14th in Class 1A while his 49 made 3-pointers ranks seventh. He's making 42 percent of his shots from long range.

Colfax-Mingo's boys' basketball team was 4-17 last year but is 11-5 so far this season. The Tigerhawks have a balanced roster but senior Brady Berkey is averaging 18.5 points, 7.65 rebounds, 5.44 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.

Berkey hit the 1K scoring mark this past weekend against BGM.

Newton's girls' basketball team also has been much improved. The Cardinals won three games all of last year but is 6-10 right now.

Junior Chassidy Henwood leads the Cardinals at 11.2 points, eight rebounds, five assists and 4.6 steals per game. Henwood just past Amy Vos for the most steals in a season in school history with 74.

I covered Vos during her final few seasons in Newton. She was a fantastic basketball player who went on to play a significant role for Grand View University. Henwood is doing a good job following in her footsteps.

Baxter's girls' basketball team was 8-12 last year. The Bolts are 12-5 this season and are currently on a five-game win streak. They never won more than two games in a row at any point last year.

Prairie City-Monroe senior Regan Freland is setting the bar high for the Mustangs. She scored her 1,400th career point on Monday. That's almost 400 more points than the player with the second most points in school history.

This season, the three-time all-state guard is averaging 17.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, three assists and four steals per game. She's also made 34 3-pointers.

Lynnville-Sully junior Krystal Van Dyke has missed the last few games with an injury but is averaging 14 points and 12 rebounds per game this season.

I am not sure Jasper County has that one team which will go deep into the postseason, but the area definitely features a handful of much improved teams and several standout players.

On the wrestling mat, a few area athletes hit win milestones recently. Newton's Gage Linahon got his 100th win last week and is 28-1 on the season. PCM's Payton Drake has more than 35 wins this season and got his 150th career victory this past weekend.

Drake's junior teammates, Colby Tool and Landon Fenton, are both approaching the 100-win mark. Fenton is at 98 career wins, while Tool is sitting on 94 victories despite battling injuries this season.

Colfax-Mingo's two best shots at a state berth probably rest with seniors Cyden Fitch and Trystin Ross. Both grapplers have more than 30 wins this season. Fitch just got his 130th win and Ross is nearing 125 career victories.

The basketball playoff matchups are not out yet but the postseason wrestling sites are known and will start Saturday for the small schools at sectionals. Districts for all five area schools is a week later.

It's that time of the year. Buckle up.

I wanted to give a shoutout to Drake sophomore and Newton native Garrett Sturtz for his recent play for the Bulldogs.

Sturtz has played in 23 games this season with five starts. He's averaging 6.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest and is shooting 63 percent from the floor.

Sturtz had a career-high with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting against Southern Illinois this past weekend. He also had seven boards and three assists. In Sturtz's last four games, he's averaging 11.5 points and six rebounds per game.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@newtondailynews.com

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