NEWTON — The Newton High School girls’ basketball team had McPherson stymied through the first half, but the second-ranked Bullpups got the offense untracked in the second half for a 55-42 win Monday in a non-league make-up of a weather-related postponement.
McPherson, 14-1, was just seven of 20 from the field in the first half, but hit 13 of 16 in the second. Newton was 18 of 41 shooting, seven of 18 in the second half. McPherson outscored Newton 27-6 from 3-point range.
“We finally got the lid off and got some transition baskets,” McPherson coach Chris Strathman said. “We got some clean looks overall, and that’s the key for us on offense. Newton is a very good team defensively and they took us out of some things we wanted to do in the first half. The pace was being played at their tempo in the first half. We were able to dictate the pace in the second half. When you play at a better pace, you shoot the ball better. We have some girls who can shoot it. That helps us spread the floor. We missed some good looks on threes early, but our girls didn’t hesitate. They kept shooting.”
“We played well defensively the first half, offensively as well,” Newton coach Randy Jordan said. “What it came down to was they scored 27 points on threes. It was their ability to make threes to our inability. We had some empty possessions that hurt us in the third quarter. We tried to pound it inside. That doesn’t work for us. When we throw a post pass, 50 percent of the time, we turn it over. We took some wild, off-balance shots. We lost our composure for a short period of time. We got beat in transition. That should not happen to us.”
Taylor Robertson led 14-1 McPherson with 24 points, hitting five of six 3-point attempts. Riley Hett added 12 points.
Newton was led by DesiRay Kernal with 13 points. Taylor Antonowich and Kyndal Bacon each added 10. It was Antonowich’s first game in double figures since returning to the line up back in January.
The Railers jumped out to a 4-0 lead. A Mandi Cooks four-point play with 40 seconds left in the quarter put the Bullpups up 13-12 at the end of the period.
Newton jumped back out by three early in the fourth quarter, but the Bullupus stayed in the game with outside shooting. Newton got back out by four, with opportunities to extend the lead. An Emma Ruddle trey with 50 seconds left in the half got McPherson back within one, 23-33.
Newton scored the first basket of the second half, but gave up a 9-0 run. Newton got back to within two, but again the Bullpups hit from the outside to lead by as many as 10. Newton hit two of four free throws in the last 40 seconds of the period, but a Robertson trey at the buzzer put McPherson up 47-36.
McPherson went 10 of 11 from the field in the period, while Newton was four of seven.
McPherson put things away with an 6-2 run to start the fourth quarter. Newton did force six turnovers in the final period.
“I thought we played great defense tonight. They had to work for everything they got,” Jordan said. “That third quarter got us. They got loose balls. We stood. We didn’t follow shots. We have to grow from that. We can’t do that against Derby. We have to take quality shots. We have to guard and we have to rebound.”
McPherson hosts Great Bend Feb. 6. Newton hosts Derby at 6 p.m. Friday.