It was a match of similar styles when the Dodge City Red Demons and the Newton Railroaders squared off Tuesday night, but a trio of turnovers served as the turning point that gave the victory to Newton, 87-78.
Both teams use the 3-point line as a weapon, and both like to extend defensively and play hard. With similar styles, the game was headed for some fast action up and down the court.
"We both play at a higher pace. We knew the score would be high," said Dodge City head coach Tony Starnes.
The Demons are a young team with just two seniors and one junior. Only one player on the team has any varsity experience. In spite of that, the Demons held a small lead at halftime. In the third quarter, the team came out a little flat but still managed to keep the game close.
Then the offense suffered three turnovers in a row, and each time Newton scored.
After that, the Demons were playing catchup but couldn't recapture the lead, Starnes said.
"The end score got kind of out of hand," Starnes said.
Newton kept replacing all five players and 50% of its shots were from beyond the 3-point line. Their aggressive play caused the Demons to suffer 26 turnovers.
The team hit 11 of 37 from the 3-point line and the team only had 20 free throws while Newton hit 36 of 47 free throws so work has to be done on controlling fouls.
While they came up short on the scoreboard, the team gave a great effort with just sophomores and freshmen on the floor for all but six minutes of the game.
"I'm really proud of our guys and how they played," Starnes said.
Leaders in the game included sophomore Cooper Lowell with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Shannen Barajas had 24 points and Cooper Scheck had 14 points. Dylan Smith also played well.
"We're going to play a lot of sophomores and freshmen. We're pretty deep," Starnes said.
While the team lost eight seniors to graduation, the underclassmen have stepped up and worked hard to get ready for the season.
"The sophomore class did a good job this summer, fall and winter," Starnes said. "We've got an extremely good group of freshmen on the varsity and junior varsity. We're excited about the future."
The Demons' next test is Maize on Friday. The team will have to execute well from half court and, because they are small, rebounding will be an issue.
Starnes said its an extremely good group of kids with few issues on and off the floor. They do whatever they are asked to do.
Starnes admitted he was going to have to coach a little bit better and get the team pointed in the right direction. He refuses to let their age be an excuse, but they are inexperienced and will build on that.
As for the Maize game, they also suffered a loss Tuesday night and the Maize coach has a program that doesn't slip, so the Demons have work to do.
"They (Maize) will be tough to beat at home. We will have to play with reckless abandon and hopefully get some shots," Starnes said.
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