By Scott Vanscoy (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The East Newton Patriots (7-5) defeated the Marionville Comets (7-6), 67-59 on Friday night. It was a tale of two halves as the Patriots, using an up-tempo game, got out to an early 20 point lead and were leading, 39-25, at halftime.
Marionville was playing with several new players on the varsity roster and it showed in the first half. Turnovers, missed shots, and defensive lapses cost the Comets. The Patriots went into halftime with a comfortable lead.
“We turned the ball over way too much in the first half and offensively we were pretty stagnant,” said Marionville coach Ted Young. “We made some adjustments at halftime, just minor adjustments, they should have seen it while they were on the floor. I need to do a better job of coaching them up, working on basketball IQ and things like that.”
The first half saw East Newton freshman Lucas Kimbrough hit 16 of his team high 19 points as he knocked down two “3’s” and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line. For the game, Kimbrough would miss one free throw on the night.
“I’m thankful that I get to play with a bunch of talented people and improve my game,” said Kimbrough. “Being a freshman, it could be intimidating but it has been mainly positive, and I’m happy about that. I just want to continue to improve so I’m going to keep working every day.”
In the second half, Marionville’s adjustments held the freshman without a bucket and they fought their way back to just a six point deficit at the end of the third quarter, 49-43.
“At halftime, I reminded them we couldn’t let up,” said East Newton coach Ethan Baker. “The biggest thing that we tried to emphasize was that our mistakes were the only thing that would let Marionville back in it. Unfortunately, we came out and made those mistakes. The biggest thing at halftime was just to continue our effort.”
With six minutes left to go in the game, East Newton had a 52-47 lead. The Patriots would go quiet at the three point line and the Comets started making shots. With 4:09 remaining, when Josh Goodman sank a bucket, the Comets were within one possession, 54-51. East Newton was fouled, then missed the front end of a 1-1. The inexperience of the Comets came into play as they went four possessions either turning the ball over or not getting a good look.
“We fought our way back in the second half and they changed their defense on us and we did a good job with it,” said Young. “The effort was better in the second half, hopefully we can build on that. The difference in the game was turnovers and offensive rebounds. We allowed them too many second chances on offense.”
Leading the game in rebounds was East Newton senior Dustin McDermott.
“In the first half we played really good and got up to a lead,” said McDermott. “In the second half we struggled with the pressure and threw the ball away a few times. It was like there was a lid on the bucket, none of our shots would fall, but we got the rebound and had a lot of put backs. I got a little nervous when they came back on us but I trust my team and I knew that we were going to finish it.”
East Newton continued to get offensive rebounds and make their free throws down the stretch to gradually build their lead. The dagger came when Davis Turner knocked down a three with a little over three minutes to go in the game, giving them a 67-57 lead. The Comets put in two late free throws but the Patriots used their experience and killed the clock to win the game, 67-59.
“We were really upset with how we performed in our last game (against Neosho), so tonight we wanted to come out and just knock it in,” said Baker. “We knew coming into it that they might play 1-3-1; it gave us trouble a lot tonight. Our transition game really kept us in it, pushing the ball and trying to force turnovers in our zone. I have confidence; we’ve got four guys that can all shoot 40% from the three and I trust the percentages. But we do like to shoot the three. Another thing we did well tonight was rebounding. On the season we average about eight more rebounds than our opponents. We knew that coming into this one we needed to rebound like we are used to. Tonight we came back to our game.”
East Newton—Lucas Kimbrough-19, Dustin McDermott-13, Davis Turner-13, Colton Ball-6, Bryce Cambers-6, Dalton Moore-5, Connor Killion-4, Caleb Jackson-1
Marionville— Josh Goodman-29, Gavin Stanton-16, Laythen Utke-6, Wesley Breedlove-2, Kale Bateman-2, Ryan Mayberry-2, Evan Dotson-2