It wasn’t another win.
However, Newton boys basketball coach Tom Vanderlaan saw progress and improvement with his team.
The last time the Cardinals played Oskaloosa, Newton got blown out and overwhelmed on the road.
Tuesday, the Cardinals turned it over just 13 times and came within a few bad stretches away from a big win during a 55-45 loss to the Indians on senior night.
“There were just two stretches where the tempo just wasn’t where we wanted it,” Vanderlaan said. “They kind of ramped it up defensively and shoved it down our throats.
“But it was night and day from the last time we played these guys. You’d like to think there was improvement. We were right there most of the game.”
The first bad stretch Vanderlaan referred to came in the first quarter when Oskaloosa scored seven straight points to take a 13-6 lead. The Cardinals recovered from that to only trail by one at the break.
Newton (6-10) wasn’t so fortunate on the second stretch.
After a Ryan Van Manen bucket inside put the Cardinals up 24-23, Oskaloosa went on a 9-0 run to go up 32-24. A four-point play by senior Grant McDermott trimmed the lead to four, but the Indians led by six heading into the final quarter.
The Cardinals got to within three points three different times, but the advantage for Oskaloosa was just too big. The Indians kept possessions alive with offensive rebounds and finished off Newton from the line. Oskaloosa shot 23 free throws in the second half.
“We didn’t get the win, but we did some nice things against a quality opponent,” Vanderlaan said. “It felt good other than those two bad stretches.”
Newton trailed by one halftime after shooting 10-of-23 from the floor. The Cardinals fell behind even more in the second half when shots didn’t go in. Newton was 8-of-29 in the second half.
The Cardinals honored five senior players and one senior manager before the game. In one his final games at home, senior Josh Bates led the team with 11 points and eight rebounds. Senior Colten McDermott pitched in seven points, five boards, two assists and two steals, while senior Grant McDermott had nine points and Van Manen added eight.
Michael Roush also got the first start of his career, while manager Kelsey Gholson also was honored.
“it was nice to get Michael a start tonight,” Vanderlaan said. “He has worked hard for me the last couple of years. He earned the right to start on senior night. The seniors as a group work hard. I was proud of how they played tonight.”
Notes: Bates scored the team’s first six points. … An 8-0 run by Newton in the second quarter turned a six-point deficit into a two-point lead. … The Cardinals were outscored 13-6 in the third. … Junior Devin Hugen scored six points, pulled down five rebounds, dished out three assists and had two steals. … Oskaloosa was just 14-of-27 from the foul line. The Indians were led by Jon Eveland’s 19 points. Erik McGee had 15.