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Douglass overcomes Newton
Both Rams squads fall in first region games

COVINGTON - Eighteen points by Sean Monk and 12 points by Shay Marks were not enough as the Newton basketball squads started Region 2-AAAAA play by getting swept Tuesday night by visiting Douglass.

The Lady Astros, who are ranked No. 5 in the Gasports.com Class AAAAA poll, crushed the Lady Rams (1-2 overall, 0-1 in Region 2-AAAAA) by 30 points, 62-32, in the opener, while the Newton boys fell 51-47.

Whenever the Newton boys (2-1 overall, 0-1 in Region 2-AAAAA) tried to get anything started, Douglass answered with a 3-pointer. The Astros finished the game with 10 baskets from beyond the arc.

"They just flat wore it out and made jumpers for four quarters. In another game, they may not hit the broad side of a barn, but tonight they just wore it out," Newton boys coach Rick Rasmussen said. "If they don't hit two or three of those, it's a totally different ball game. If they don't make it, they don't win. But that's just the way it goes sometimes."

Both teams had the lead two times in the first quarter with the Astros taking a six-point, 16-10, lead late in the period. But before the buzzer sounded, Newton's Demetrius McCray completed a three-point play to slice the deficit to three heading into the second quarter.

Newton fought back to take a 21-19 lead halfway through the period until back-to-back treys by Douglass' Derrick Spears gave the Astros the lead again.

Jamon Hawkins closed the gap to 25-24 with a 3-pointer of his own. But the Astros, with their fourth 3-pointer of the period, took a 30-28 lead into the locker room.

Newton again felt the sting of Douglass' outside shooting in the third frame as the Astros made three treys to take a 40-36 lead.

Monk made all three of Newton's first baskets in the fourth as the Rams tied the game at 42 with 3:23 left to play. But on the strength of one more 3-pointer and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, Douglass was able to hold off the Rams for the win.

"I thought my kids battled," Rasmussen said. "I thought we gave it a good effort. The kids care and they try hard, they hustle. We basically didn't make enough shots against people that were wearing it out. They wore it out, and that's the difference in the ball game."

In the girls game, Marks gave the Lady Rams the lead when she hit one of two free throws. That turned out to be the only time the Douglass girls trailed in the entire game.

The Lady Astros responded by going on a 15-0 run. Despite being down, the Lady Rams were not ready to give up as they scored the final five points of the opening period.

Newton seemed to have found the secret to keeping up with Douglass as both teams added 12 points to their total in the second quarter.

"Coming into the game, I think they already thought they were going to lose," Lady Rams coach Tiffani Johnson said. "But once they realized that they may be a little quicker and jump a little higher but we can hang with them, their confidence went up."

The Lady Astros kicked it up another notch in the third quarter.

Douglass scored 17 straight points before Newton's Loren Wilkens broke the run. The Lady Astros did not let the Newton basket bother them as they ended the third outscoring Newton 7-3 to take a 51-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Newton continued to struggle in the fourth, but not as badly with Douglass' bench players on the court.

"One of the things I told them was don't let them get in a rhythm," Johnson said. "I knew if they got into a rhythm they would be tough for us. The first half I don't think we did too bad. We had a couple of missed assignments. In the second half, they came out ready and I don't know what happened to our people in the second half."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.