By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
BROOKVILLE — Newton girls basketball coach Steve Fisher found himself, in a way, envying football coaches Wednesday night.
“It’s not like football where you can run a defensive team in to pressure and then an offensive team in to score. And that’s what we got caught up in in the second half,” he said. “We had to put the pressure team in that was not very good offensively, so we were a little stuck trying to turn them over, but when we did turn them over, we couldn’t convert on offense.”
Fisher’s seventh-seeded Indians took control with a big second quarter, building a seven-point lead at one point, but No. 9 Miami Valley turned up the heat in the second half and Newton simply could not convert its opportunities on the offensive end, only managing 10 second-half points in a 36-30 loss to the Rams in the first round of the Division IV sectional tournament Wednesday at Brookville High School.
After the two teams traded the lead back and forth five times in the first quarter, with Newton holding a slim 9-7 lead, Brooke Deeter hit a pair of 3s in the second quarter that helped stake the Indians out to a 20-13 lead at one point and a 20-16 advantage at halftime. But in the second half, Newton went ice cold from the floor, partially due to the defensive-minded personnel switches and partially due to being in too much of a hurry thanks to the Rams’ pressure.
“(We were) 11 for 45 from the field, and 4 for 21 in the second half,” Steve Fisher said. “I thought from the second quarter on, we were too impatient offensively. The press kind of got us rattled a little bit, turned the momentum a little bit, gave them some momentum — and then we couldn’t make shots.
“Ten points in the second half is obviously not a very good effort offensively. I didn’t think we had bad looks, but sometimes we took them a little early. I felt like if we moved the ball a little more, we could have gotten better shots.”
Miami Valley (13-8) outrebounding Newton 37-31 in the game — and 22-15 after halftime — compounded those shooting woes, and the Indians simply couldn’t recover.
“In the second half, we got killed on the boards,” Fisher said. “Part of our issue all year has been giving up too many offensive rebounds and also getting deflections but not being able to come up with loose balls. And in the second half, we got deflections but didn’t come up with loose balls — and a lot of times, those loose balls turned into baskets.”
After the Rams took a lead late in the first quarter, Mallory Dunlevy scored on an assist from Maddie Hildebrand to tie the score and then Brooke Deeter stole the ball and hit Camryn Gleason for a fast-break layup to give the Indians a 9-7 lead after one. Miami Valley tied the score again early in the second quarter, but Deeter knocked down the first of her three 3s on the night and then hit another one to put Newton up 15-9, and a jumper by Deeter late in the half gave the Indians their biggest lead of the game at 20-13 before Jazlyn Smith hit a late 3 to keep the Rams alive, down 20-16 at halftime.
Newton scored the first basket of the third quarter, but Miami Valley answered with a 6-0 stretch to tie the score at 22-22. Dunlevy scored on a putback to keep the Indians ahead, but Grace Zerbo sank a pair of free throws to tie the score at 24-24 heading into the final quarter.
Camryn Gleason hit a free throw to give the Indians a one-point lead again, but Zerbo scored to give Miami Valley its first lead since the opening quarter at 26-25, then Katie Campbell drilled a 3 and followed with a fast-break layup to give the Rams some breathing room, and Newton couldn’t get closer than four points the rest of the way.
Campbell had 11 points and seven rebounds to lead the Rams, Smith and Zerba each scored nine points and Myelle Norton had seven points and 13 rebounds.
Deeter led Newton with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists, Dunlevy had eight points and eight rebounds, Michaela Kirk had eight points and eight rebounds, Gleason and Ally Weaver each had three points and Hildebrand had three assists.
It was the final game in the careers of Newton’s four seniors — Dunlevy, Kirk, Weaver and Hildebrand.
“We ended up 10-13, and it’s always disappointing to end with a loss,” Fisher said. “This was a game we felt we could win, felt pretty confident going in, but it was just one of those things.
“In that class, we have four outstanding students, all over 3.6 GPA,” Fisher said of his seniors. “They’re all college-bound girls, all quality kids and leaders in school. I feel sorry for them that they have to go out in this situation, but unless you win state … I know that’s disappointing for them. I know they wanted the opportunity to keep playing. But they are quality, quality kids.”
Miami Valley moves on to the second round and will face top-seeded Tri-Village Tuesday.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.