Newton — The Knoxville varsity boys' basketball team played a strong game Friday night in Newton, but could not find a response to the Cardinals' Tyler Wood and the rest of Newton's deep shooters. The Panthers left with a 78-64 loss.
Both teams got off to a slow start, offensively, leaving the game tied at 10 at the end of the first quarter. The Panthers' defense under the boards remained tight, but Newton was able to put up 24 points in the second. Knoxville responded with 16 of their own, but struggled to find the mark through much of the second. Newton led 34-26 at the half.
The Cardinals' responded to Knoxville's stinginess with shots under the basket and took to the outside in the third quarter. It was Newton's outside shooting that maintained their lead over the Panthers, who got hotter in third to bring Knoxville within 10 by the end of the quarter, 59-49.
Fouls and difficulty in shooting from the outside decreased the Panthers' chances for success and the team fell 78-64. Wood finished with nearly 30 points for Newton, much of which came via three-pointers. Knoxville Head Coach Jeff Larson said Newton was able to beat his team in the second half, due in part to the Panthers' inability to keep the ball out of Wood's hands.
Knoxville is now at 2-4 on the season. Larson said the team has a lot to work on, but also saw plenty of good things the Panthers did. He was impressed by the team's blocks on the inside and the way they handled the press. According to Larson, the Panthers won the game for three-and-a-half quarters, until the game turned in to the "Tyler Woods Show."
Junior Nathan Winters was Knoxville's top scorer, racking up 19 total points. Gerritt Davis and Bryce Zoutte, both seniors, each had 10. Also scoring were Freshman Trent Davis, Senior Luke Smith, Junior Nolan Wallace, Senior Chase Higginbotham and Junior John Mitchell.
The boys will resume practice on Dec. 26. Larson said that the team will have to make a decision regarding what kind of team it wants to be as the new year begins. He believes his team will be "ready to roll" and have a good run through the rest of the season.
Next up for the Panthers is a trip to Norwalk on Tuesday, Jan. 7. The team will host Pella on Friday, Jan. 10.