MASON CITY — Central Springs has its mind on big things down the road, but before the Panthers can start thinking about what’s ahead, they know they need to stay in the present because there’s a lot left to do.

On Friday in a Top of Iowa Conference East Division game at Newman Catholic, the Panthers were met with another challenge, and they responded with a 56-44 victory over to the Knights to head into break with their eighth straight victory and a 9-1 overall record.

“We haven’t done anything yet, but that’s a great start to our goal,” Central Springs coach B.J. Fessler said.

As has been the case for most of the season for the Panthers, Kaylee Parks did the heavy lifting. With Newman trying to take her out of the game, Parks still found her shots as she piled up a game-high 29 points.

The defense is what ended up being the Panthers’ point of pride for the night, though.

“We play really well as a group together, and we knew who we had to stop and what they do as an offensive, and I think we played really well man-to-man,” Parks said.

Friday’s challenge was figuring out a way to limit Newman Catholic from beyond the arc. With the help of an off night shooting from the Knights, consider it mission accomplished as Newman finished 5 of 33 from 3-point territory.

In the first quarter, it was the Knights who came out strong as they forced Central Springs into 10 turnovers and carried a 13-9 lead into the second. The struggles shooting the ball reared their head for the remainder of the game.

“We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Newman coach Mike Schutt said. “They’re a physical team and that kind of knocked us out of what we do.”

Central Springs opened the second on an 11-0 run, and the Knights were never able to close the gap the rest of the way.

Parks scored 11 of her 29 in the third quarter, and Morgan Kelley was also a factor in the Panthers’ offense with 11 points. Anna Dietrich added seven.

“Kaylee is an unbelievable player, but one of the reasons she is because of the girls that surround her,” Fessler said. “We’ve got some shooters and we’ve got some kids that play down low. They do all the thing that maybe don’t show up on the statistics, but they do some unbelievable things well.”

Peyton Olson had herself a nice night opposite of Parks for the Knights. On an evening where her shot wasn’t there as well, Olson still found ways to get to the hoop and finish with a team-best 20 points.

“Me and her are really good friends,” Parks said of matching up with Olson. “We talk about it all the time, but it’s fun playing against her.”

Paige Walker tossed in seven points for the Knights (5-5, 4-3) and Emma Verstegen had five.

Central Springs is back in action Jan. 4 at Nashua-Plainfield and Newman is at St. Ansgar on Jan. 5.

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Sports Reporter

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