NEWELL — The Newell varsity girls’ basketball team scored 20 points in the first quarter Tuesday evening and defeated Wall 60-45 at Austin Auditorium in Newell. With their fourth straight win, the Irrigators improved to 6-1.
“We’re kind of built for speed, and we got to have some controlled chaos,” Newell head coach Scott Wince said. “The faster the game for us, the better.”
Kyla Emmert, Lexa Burtzlaff, and Kayden Steele combined to give Newell a 6-0 lead. Following a field goal by Wall’s Lily Wagner, the Irrigators went on an 8-2 run. Steele’s steal and layup put Newell ahead 14-4.
Wagner scored to keep Wall within 14-6. Steele and Burtzlaff countered for Newell, whose lead grew to 18-6.
Steele converted a layup as tne Irrigators led 20-8. The score was 20-10 at the break.
Wall sliced the margin to 20-15 early in the second quarter as Wagner netted two free throws. Steele, Kassidy Weeldreyer, and Austin Alexander highlighted an 8-2 run that opened Newell’s lead to 28-17.
The visiting Eagles used two Ava Dinger free throws to stay within 28-21. Newell opened a 14-point (37-23) advantage when Weeldreyer completed a three-point play. The Irrigators led 39-27 at halftime.
Dinger converted a layup in the third quarter as Wall closed the margin to 45-37. Emmert’s jump shot and Steele’s 3-point field goal enabled the Irrigators to lead 50-37.
The Eagles trailed 50-40 after three quarters but stayed within 52-45 on Dinger’s 3-point field goal in the fourth. Alexander’s short-range basket started an 8-0 run that sealed the win for the Irrigators.
Steele finished with a game-high 30 points for Newell. Wince was asked what worked especially well for the junior guard-forward.
“She understands basketball very well and understands where the ball is going to go,” Wince said. “She understands what’s not there, and what is.”
Wagner’s 23-point effort enabled her to top Wall’s scoring charts. Dinger added 12 points for the Eagles, now 3-2.
Wince said Newell struggles if it has to slow things down and run set plays, as it did in the second half.
The Irrigators excelled at playing uptempo Tuesday, according to Wince. He said some players scored only a few points but played phenomenal defense on backside help.
“Our team effort was phenomenal,” Wince added. “The girls off the bench did what they needed to do; we pride ourselves on hard work.”
Statistical leaders follow.
Newell scoring: Kayden Steele 30, Kyla Emmert 8, Austin Alexander 8, Lexa Burtzlaff 8, Kassidy Weeldreyer 6. Totals 27 field goals, five of 12 from the free throw line, 60 points.
Wall scoring: Lily Wagner 23, Ava Dinger 12, Searra-Sioux Deutscher 4, Keaunna Poor Bear 2, Samantha Deutscher 2, Sierra Hilgenkamp 2. Totals 18 field goals, seven of 12 from the free throw line, 45 points.
Three-point field goals: Newell 1 (Steele 1), Wall 2 (Dinger 2)
Total fouls: Newell 14, Wall 15
Wince said the Irrigators’ start to this season has absolutely surpassed his expectations.
He added the team had goals centering on one game at a time, living in the moment, and taking things one step at a time. He added he did not know the team would be 6-1 at this stage.
“I think we’re starting to jell into a better team,” Wince said. He added the players worked a lot last season on understanding the game of basketball, and that is starting to become evident as this season began.
“They’re starting to understand that they have to stick together, and they have to work five, six, seven deep or we’re not going to be successful,” Wince said.
What improvements would Wince like to see the team make in the coming weeks?
“We’d better learn how to make free throws, or we’re in trouble,” Wince said. He added that has been a stumbling block thus far.
Physical conditioning also needs to improve, according to Wince. He said the Irrigators’ schedule becomes considerably tougher with the likes of Rapid City Christian, Upton, Faith, Philip, Hill City, and Custer.
Newell will host first-round games at the West River Tournament that begins Jan. 14.
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