The last time Newton boys basketball team played Grinnell, the Tigers stole a win from the Cardinals on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Tuesday, Newton found itself in a similar kind of game. This time, the Cardinals finished off the win and claimed the most significant road victory in the past two seasons.
The Cardinals withstood a third-quarter run by Grinnell, played tremendous defense throughout and hit enough free throws in the final minutes to seal a 42-38.
“I was proud of how we finished the game tonight,” Newton coach Tom Vanderlaan said. “I hope this carries over because we have the chance to be in some close games down the stretch. I hope we are learning how to play with the lead.”
The Cardinals used an 11-0 run to start the second quarter to go up by seven points. They led by nine early in the third before an 8-0 spurt by Grinnell — which included two technical free throws — cut the lead to one.
But Newton stayed poised, continued to play hard on defense and made buckets when it needed them in preserving the big conference victory.
“Sometimes we need a breakthrough win to get things going,” Vanderlaan said. “It’s a win against a quality basketball program. They are a very well-coached team.”
Newton trailed 12-8 after one quarter but had to recover after a slow offensive start. The second quarter began with the Cardinals scoring 11 straight points as senior Grant McDermott buried two triples and senior Ryan Van Manen added consecutive buckets inside the paint.
“We struggled to find offense early in the game,” Vanderlaan said. “Besides getting the ball inside to Ryan we just couldn’t find a rhythm. Grant loosened us up a little bit with those 3s.”
The lead for Newton stayed at six at halftime and grew to as large as nine following a hoop and the harm by Van Manen.
“That run was a good momentum boost for us,” Vanderlaan said. “We had to be thinking ‘we can do this’ at that point. It gave us a sense of confidence.”
Grinnell’s Ben Wallace then went to work inside for the Tigers. He scored three times inside the lane and two technical free throws cut the lead to just one.
In the past, Newton may have folded up shop and lost on the road. And maybe many Grinnell fans thought it would happen again.
The Cardinals had other ideas though as two freebies by junior Devin Hugen and an inside basket by senior Josh Bates kept the advantage at three heading into the fourth. Hugen finished with 11 points on the night.
Grant McDermott canned a well-guarded jumper on the first possession of the fourth, and senior Colten McDermott got two more points inside the lane to make it a six-point game.
“We made shots when we needed to,” Vanderlaan said. “We made our free throws late and turned them over 14 times.”
Grinnell trailed by four with 2:08 to play in the game. At that point, Hugen missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but the Tigers turned back over to Newton on their next offensive possession.
Newton then sealed the win at the line, making 6-of-8 in the final 1:27. Hugen’s two makes at the stripe with 10 seconds to play iced the win for the visitors.
“This was a good team win for us,” Vanderlaan said. “Our good play on offense turned into us playing hard on defense. And our good play on defense translated into good offense, too.”
Newton finished with just nine turnovers in the game and made 14 of its 30 shots in the game from the floor. Grinnell was just 11-of-33 from the field.
“We did a really nice job on defense tonight,” Vanderlaan said. “We kept them in front of us, were fundamentally sound and got a hand up in the face of shooters.”
Grant McDermott led all scorers with 13 points and also had three assists. Hugen had five boards, four steals and a block to go with his 11 points. Bates also grabbed five boards and recorded two steals.
Notes: Wallace led the Tigers with nine points, while Trent Baker added eight. Darrin Chitwood, the Tigers’ leading scorer, was held to just four points. … Van Manen finished with eight points for Newton, while Colten McDermott added seven. … Newton is now 4-8 on the sesaon, while Grinnell falls to 7-5. … Grinnell’s players after the game showed tremendous sportsmanship. Several of the players walked by Vanderlaan in the hallway and congratulated he and the Cardinals on the win. Vanderlaan said that’s a direct reflection of Grinnell head coach Scott Sharp. “He is a great guy, and a fantastic basketball coach,” Vanderlaan said.
Newton 42, Grinnell 38
Score by quarters
NHS 8 15 9 10 — 42
GHS 12 5 12 9 — 38
Newton individual statistics
Points — Grant McDermott 13, Devin Hugen 11, Ryan Van Manen 8, Colten McDermott 7, Josh Bates 3. Rebounds — 17 (Hugen 5, Bates 5). Assists — 6 (Grant McDermott 3). Steals — 8 (Hugen 4, Bates 2). Blocks — 2 (Hugen 1, Colten McDermott 1).