Effingham Daily News
The lead evaded comeback-oriented Newton twice in the fourth quarter, during which the Eagles trailed Vandalia by as many as nine points.
The Eagles came as close as three points in the middle of the quarter and two points with about one minute remaining, but the Vandals stepped up every time Newton challenged them.
It took Newton about three minutes to shrink a nine-point lead to two with 1:13 left in the game, but Vandalia pushed it back to six within 40 seconds and the Eagles' season ended in a 47-39 loss.
The Eagles trailed by six points entering the final quarter in Vandalia, fell back by eight early and charged back. Emily Kerner hit a 3-pointer to kick start a 5-0 run to bring the Eagles within three points with 5:33 left in the opening round game of the Vandalia Regional.
Vandalia's Madelyn Hosick led the Vandals' ensuing 6-0 run, with four points on her own. Later, she helped them seal the win with six free throws in the last minute.
“We spent most of the time trying to get back into it,” Newton head coach Brad Harris said. “(Vandalia) came out, manned up against us, played physical and we didn't respond to it.”
The Eagles played in a back-and-forth game in the first half. Vandalia led by one point after the first quarter and only two points at halftime.
Vandalia outscored Newton 9-5 in the third quarter, which was significant given how close the game was entering the second half.
Harris said he wanted his team to move the ball better in the second half to open up shooting lanes and spots to attack the defense, but the Eagles didn't deliver.
“We got stagnant,” Harris said. “We didn't get our movement. We weren't getting open shots. Defensively, we kind of let down. We turned our head and would lose our man.”
The Eagles' defense struggled against Vandalia's physicality, Harris said. The Vandals found success in the post play of Hosick, Morgan Cripe and others.
Vandalia's steady post play made a difference in the third quarter, which was an offensive struggle for both teams. Newton struggled making the same layups Vandalia got.
“It's been a while since we've seen a team that really focuses on post play and it showed,” Harris said. “They knew how to handle the post and work it. That was the biggest difference.”
Kerner led the Eagles with nine points, while Ariel Richards added seven. Lexie Davidson and Andrea Cartright scored six apiece.
The loss ends Newton's season at 12-14, while Vandalia advances in the Class 2A Regional to play top-seeded Teutopolis today at 6 p.m.
Vandalia and Teutopolis tangled in the Cumberland Regional last year, with Vandalia almost pulling a stunning upset before missing a wide-open layup at the buzzer. Teutopolis advanced with a narrow 44-43 win.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newton 9 11 5 14 39
Vandalia 10 12 9 16 47
Newton: Kerner 9, Richards 7, Davidson 6, Cartright 6, Koebele 4, Probst 3, Will 2, Hartrich 2
Vandalia: Hosick 14, Cripe 7, Godoyo 6, Bright 6, Tinker 4, Kershaw 4, Evans 3, Sellers 2, Meyer 1