By Josh Brown
PLEASANT HILL — After Thursday’s game, Bethel girls basketball coach Ed Quincel was more than happy with his team’s effort, while Newton coach Neal Hans couldn’t shake off the sluggishness he saw in the second half.
Luckily for the Indians, the first half was enough.
Newton began the game on a 16-1 run, using full-court pressure on defense to force the inexperienced Bees into plenty of mistakes and then beating them down the floor in transition for easy buckets. Bethel was able to slow the pace of the game down in the second half, but the deficit was just too big in a 53-30 Newton victory Thursday night in Pleasant Hill.
The Indians forced 10 first-quarter turnovers to build a 20-4 lead and never truly had to look back.
“That was the gameplan going in,” Hans said. “We’ve been working on getting the ball up and down the floor quicker, and in the first half, I thought we did a really good job of that.”
Madison Mollette was a big part of that, too.
Mollette had 10 points in the first quarter alone, wreaking havoc on the defensive end by not allowing Bethel to get the ball past midcourt, tipping turnovers to teammates and then getting the pass the other way for fast-break layups — or dishing the ball to teammates for the finish.
She finished with a game-high 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“Maddie’s done an excellent job this past couple of games,” Hans said. “She’s played real well for us lately, and she had a nice game tonight.”
She wasn’t alone, either, as three Indians were in double digits. Madison Tebics finished with 12 points and three assists and Trelissa Lavy added 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Megan Rutledge was just on the outside of double figures with nine points and five rebounds.
But Bethel never quit fighting, no matter how far behind it got.
Jill Callaham finished with 12 points and five rebounds to lead the way and was the Bees’ best offensive answer to both the scoring and turnover problems. Her ballhandling kept the ball out of Newton’s opportunistic defense’s hands, and she worked her way into the paint for a number of buckets on the drive.
“I just told the girls that I have no complaints tonight. They played hard — and that’s what I’ve been fighting to get out of them,” Quincel said. “If we can get them to play hard all the time, we can clean the other things up. It all starts with the effort.
“We’ve got a lot of inexperience, but that just takes playing. And I was pleased with the effort tonight.”
Erin Floyd also gave the Bees some punch off the bench, adding five points, a game-high 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.
“She had a good game,” Quincel said. “She can do a lot of things for us if she just gets that ‘I’m-gonna-kick-your-butt’ attitude, if she just gets that mentality.”
Both teams are back in action Saturday, with Bethel taking on Dayton Christian and Newton traveling to Miami East to face the Cross County Conference-leading Vikings.
Bethel — 30
Breanne Whetstone 0-2-2, Jill Callaham 4-4-12, Mandy Shoopman 2-0-4, Brianna Ellish 0-3-3, Courtney Schmidt 1-2-4, Erin Floyd 2-1-5. Totals: 9-12-30.
Newton — 53
Madison Tebics 6-0-12, Trelissa Lavy 4-3-11, Madison Mollette 6-2-14, Erin Sweitzer 1-0-2, Megan Rutledge 3-3-9, Allison Wise 1-0-2, Vivian Brauer 0-1-1, Elizabeth Carroll 1-0-2. Totals: 22-9-53.
Score By Quarters
Bethel4 12 20 30
Newton20 33 44 53
3-point goals: Bethel — none. Newton — none.
JV score: Newton 53, Bethel 15.