EFFINGHAM — For the second straight game, turnovers were an issue for the St. Anthony girls basketball team.
On Tuesday night, the Bulldogs were forced into 20 turnovers in a loss.
Thursday night, however, saw different results. Despite 27 turnovers against Newton (0-1), the Bulldogs’ defense carried the team to a convincing 41-30 victory.
St. Anthony’s fast-paced fast break offense looked sloppy at times, but the Bulldogs got some excellent post play en route to the win.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on is post touches,” St. Anthony coach Bart Wiedman said. “The more post touches we have, the better shots we get on the perimeter.”
Megan Nuxoll led the way for St. Anthony (1-1) down low, scoring 13 points on the night.
Nuxoll was steady for St. Anthony all night long, but her biggest play of the game came with 1.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Newton had tightened the score to 25-22 when Nuxoll got the ball down low. She made a layup, got fouled and sank the free throw to put her team up 28-22 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Megan is one of the hardest workers I have ever been around,” Wiedman said. “She is coming into her own. I feel like we’ve got her in her niche down low on the block.”
Wiedman added that if the defense continues to play the way it played Thursday night, he doesn’t care how many turnovers the Bulldogs commit.
“When we fast break like we do, we’re going to have some (turnovers),” he said. “I told them we can turn the ball over all we want if we hold teams to 30 points a game.”
Newton coach Brad Harris said that he was proud of the defensive effort his team showed on Thursday, especially with the way the Eagles executed their full court press. “Our main goal was to keep the defensive pressure up and going,” he said. “One day, we’ll take advantage of a lot of those turnovers.”
He added that his team will improve offensively once it gets more comfortable with some new offensive sets.
“We were just a little sluggish offensively,” he said. “We’re trying to put in some new stuff. We knew we were going to struggle with that, and when shots aren’t falling, it’s even more of a grind.”
Though St. Anthony struggled at times against Newton’s press, Wiedman credited the Bulldogs’ JV team for making sure the team didn’t repeat last year’s 35+ turnover performance against Newton.
“We had our entire JV team, nine other girls out on the floor, working on our five, trying to break (the press),” he said. “We did that for 20-25 minutes straight.”
Wiedman added that sharing the ball was a key to the Bulldogs’ improved offensive effort. Makayla Walsh added 10 points for St. Anthony, Kate Richards had nine points, and seven total St. Anthony players ended up scoring in the game.
“That’s fantastic,” he said. “One of the keys to making us better is driving and dishing. I thought we did a really good job of that tonight.”
Morgan Swingler led the way for Newton, notching 15 points in the loss. Tara Wirth added eight points and Megan Jansen had four points for the Eagles.