NEWTON — It wasn’t a lack of quality for the Newton High School boys’ basketball team in a 71-52 loss to second-ranked (KBCA, Class 4A, Division I) McPherson Tuesday at Ravenscroft Gym as much as it was a lack of depth.
Still playing a short bench, the Railers were ground down as the game went on.
“They’ve got a stable corps of very good players,” Newton coach Andy Hill said. “They are very well coached. They play very hard. We tried to hang in there. We did a really good job of doing that and not getting too down on ourselves. Eventually, we did wear down. If you let down for a second, they will make a 6-0 run on you in a hurry. I’m proud of the way our guys came in and competed. We stuck to our game plan. In the first half, McPherson really had to earn every basket they got. They scored 33 points in the first half, but a lot of them were hard-earned shots and difficult, contested shots.”
McPherson finished the game 28 of 41 from the field. Newton was 19 of 41 shooting. McPherson also held the edge of what little rebounding there was.
“Offensively, I thought we played pretty well,” McPherson coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “It was a high assist game. We had good ball movement. We played at an extremely high level at our tournament. We played as well as we have all year. I was fearful of a letdown — not a physical letdown, but mentally. Both teams are a little bit shot. You could see that early with turnovers. We need some rest now. We have an opportunity to get some.”
Ben Pyle led 13-1 McPherson with 18 points, followed by Mason Alexander with 17 and Jake Alexander with 15. Pyle scored 14 points in the second half.
Ty Berry led 5-8 Newton with 28 points, followed by Damarius Peterson with eight.
“They have two players that are hard match-ups,” Kinnamon said. “(Berry) probably feels he had to earn those. He shot the ball well. We weren’t always sure how to guard him. You can’t let two of them have good games.”
McPherson hit its first three shots of the game, including two 3-pointers, while Newton missed two shots and turned the ball over twice. After a Railer time out, Newton made a 9-2 run of its own, but McPherson pulled back out by six at the end of the quarter, 18-12.
McPherson’s lead in the second quarter ranged between seven and 12 points. A Berry trey from NBA range with six seconds left in the half got Newton within nine, 33-24.
McPherson outscored Newton 8-2 to start the third period, but the Railers fought back to within nine on a Berry trey with 3:40 left in the period. McPherson closed out the period on a 9-0 run to lead 54-35.
Newton stayed with McPherson in the fourth quarter. The benches were dumped in the final minutes. Alex Krogmeier hit a trey at the buzzer for Newton.
Newton takes a week off and plays Tuesday at Salina Central. The Mustangs are 10-3 and coming off a win of the Salina Invitational, downing Concordia, Buhler and Andover. Central topped Hays 62-48 Tuesday.
“We played four games in six days,” Hill said. “That takes a toll. We’ll rest a little bit tomorrow, then we’ll start to get to work and try and get a little momentum going in the second half of our league schedule.”
McPherson is off until Feb. 6, hosting Great Bend.
“We just have to get better defensively,” Kinnamon said. “Offensively, I was pleased with how we moved the ball. We had nice passes that got us some easy shots. Sometimes, when you shoot the ball well, you fall in love with that.”