By Rob Kiser
BRADFORD — Two weeks ago, the Newton girls basketball team defeated Bradford 61-32 in Cross County Conference action.
Newton coach Neal Hans expected to see a very different Bradford team when the Lady Indians visited the Lady Railroaders in non-conference action.
And that’s what he got.
Playing tenacious defense from the start, the Railroaders came away with the win this time by a 40-34 scores.
“This really is what our team is all about,” Bradford coach Patrick McKee said. “This says so much about our team. These kids played so hard today. And we have a ton of respect for the Newton program.”
The feeling is mutual between the coaches.
“I like Patrick (McKee) a lot,” Hans said. “We beat them by 30 points two weeks ago — and I knew he was going to have his team ready to play when we came here today.”
While Newton led for much of the first three quarters, the momentum swung in the fourth quarter and Bradford never gave it back up.
Trailing 30-24 going to the final eight minutes, Bradford scored the first nine points of the quarter to take the lead.
Kelly Moore had a putback, Mackenzie Weldy scored off a dish from Mandi Bates and then Moore bombed in a three from the corner with 5:21 to go to take a 31-30 lead. Weldy, who scored 12 points in the second half, had another bucket inside to make it 33-30.
“We were able to get the ball to Kenzie (Mackenzie Weldy) in the second half,” McKee said. “She really stepped up for us.”
At the same time, Madison Mollette — who finished with 20 of Newton’s 34 points — crashed into the bleachers trying to save a ball with 5:58 to go and Newton leading 30-28.
She was shaken up and was out until the final two minutes of the game — and Newton’s only field goal of the fourth quarter came from Mollette in the closing seconds.
“We basically had one girl scoring today,” Hans said. “We had a lot of opportunities. I think we were 1-for-11 in the fourth quarters. That tells you the story. You can’t win with one field goal.”
In Mollette’s absence, Newton managed free throws from Aliya Stine and Macy Flanary to close the gap to 33-32.
That’s when Chelsea Gill threw a perfect lob pass to Weldy from just across midcourt for a basket to make the score 35-32.
“I am so proud of Chelsea (Gill),” McKee said. “That is another girl that has really stepped up. What a beautiful pass. When it was in the air, I was a little nervous — but it got there.”
After Newton was unable to score, Bradford had the ball with 49.4 seconds to go. With only two teams fouls, Newton had to foul five times and did it pretty quickly.
Moore, who hit a number of big shots during the game, was sent to the line with 33.3 seconds to go and hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it 36-32.
Mandi Bates would add two free throws, before Weldy added a basket to put the game out of reach, before the final basket by Mollette.
“Kelly (Moore) hit a big free throw,” McKee said. “Mandi Bates is playing hurt right now, but we had a number of girls that stepped up.”
The game was more than five minutes old, before Mollette had scored the first points and the opening quarter finished 4-2 in Newton’s favor.
“To hold a team like Newton to four points in the first quarter, I thought that was outstanding,” McKee said. “I thought that set the tone.”
Newton led 16-13 at halftime and 30-24 after three quarters, before the Roaders finished with a 16-4 advantage in the final quarter.
“We just didn’t have anyone else (besides Madison Mollette) score,” Hans said. “Aliya Stine was our second leading scorer today. Aliya gets those points from always hustling and just never giving up. We just have to move on from here.”
Weldy led Bradford with 17 and Moore added 13. Stine complimented Mollette’s big game with seven points.
Newton dropped to 11-7 on the season, while Bradford improved to 7-11 in a game that turned out much different than the first meeting.
Tatum McBride 1-0-2, Madison Mollette 9-2-20, Elizabeth Carroll 0-0-0, Aliya Stine 2-3-7, Mallory Dunlevy 1-0-2, Kaylee Kesler 1-0-2, Macy Flanary 0-1-1. Totals: 14-6-34.
Chelsea Gill 1-0-2, Olivia Hart 0-2-2, Kelly Moore 5-1-13, Mandi Bates 2-2-6, Mackenzie Weldy 7-3-17, Hannah Fout 0-0-0, Bailey Wysong 0-0-0. Totals: 15-8-40.
3-point field goals — Bradford: Moore (2).
Score By Quarters
Newton 4 16 30 34
Bradford 2 13 24 40
Records: Newton 11-7, Bradford 7-11.
Reserve score: Newton 35, Bradford 22.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.