After a slow start Saturday,, the Knoxville Panthers, ranked No. 13 in 4A, warmed up to the surroundings on the big stage at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Newton took advantage to lead the Panthers 10-3 less than four minutes into the contest.
Knoxville rallied back to within 14-11 at the end of the quarter. Six of the KHS 11 points were by Katie Keitges at the free throw line.
In the second quarter, the Panthers got a lot stronger with their defense, and the high powered offense kicked into gear.
Maggie Wilkins had eight points in the second quarter as the Panthers led 31-23 at the intermission break.
Knoxville expanded the lead in the second half as they ran their season mark to 8-1 overall with a solid 53-38 win over the Cardinals.
Newton fell to 4-4 with the loss.
The Cardinals were led by Victoria Nehring with 12 points and Chassidy Henwood with 10.
For Knoxville, the player with the hot hand was Maggie Wilkins. Wilkins had a career high 28 points, 17 of them coming in the second half. Thirteen of her points came in the final quarter as she was the lone Knoxville player to score in the final eight minutes.
In addition to the 28 points from Wilkins, the Panthers had 14 by Keitges, six from Charlee Heffron off the bench, four by Emma Dunkin and one point from Norah Pearson.
Newton was limited to only one field goal in the third quarter as the Panthers took control of the game.
Panther Coach Jim Uitermarkt stated, “We changed defenses at the end of the first quarter and went to a matchup 2-3 zone that gave Newton some problems.”
Uitermarkt also said after the slow start the Panthers got more aggressive at the offensive end of the court and started some drives to the basket.
Knoxville junior Maggie Wilkins added, “We had to get back in the groove and play our tempo as well as get used to playing on the floor..”
“I feel our defense won us this game,” Wilkins stated.
Odds and Ends
The Panthers will be at home Friday to face the Albia Lady Dees at 6:30 p.m.
Monday the Panthers venture to Pella to face the Pella Christian Eagles at 6:15 on Eagle Lane.