COVINGTON - A 25-point third quarter helped the Rams overtake the Seminoles 61-50 in the boys game, while Courtney Hurt scored 24 points and had 15 rebounds as the Salem girls beat Newton 67-52 in the opening game Saturday.
After a lackluster first quarter in which the Salem boys took a 5-4 lead, both teams came alive in the second quarter.
Salem built its lead to 22-14 on a Julius Giles 3-pointer. But the Rams were able to close the gap, scoring the final four points of the first half. Jamon Hawkins helped bring Newton from a six-point deficit to trailing by four when he stole Salem's inbound pass and scored in the closing seconds.
"Jamon's play at the end of the half was really big to help cut it to four instead of being down six," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "I thought we did a lot of good things. We only had two turnovers. If we had been a sloppy team, we really could've been in trouble."
Turnovers played a big part in keeping Newton in the game as they had two in the first half compared to Salem's seven.
Both teams exchanged baskets midway through the third frame as Salem took a 33-27 lead. However, the momentum quickly shifted to Newton's side when Hawkins hit a trey as Newton went on a 16-0 run to end the period.
"I thought we had a great third quarter," Rasmussen said. "We just said that we knew the shots would come and be patient and be confident. We went back to shooting the ball with confidence and making the extra pass; we're a real unselfish team. I praise the kids for that."
Salem tried valiantly to get back into the game but Newton held on to the lead.
The Seminoles' Zach Roddenberry had a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards. Giles also hit double figures for Salem with 13 points.
"I knew they weren't going to quit. They gave good effort in the fourth quarter to make it interesting," Rasmussen said. "They have a lot of talent and he (Salem coach Darren Wilkins) does a good job."
Hawkins, with the help of three 3-pointers, led the field in scoring with 22 points as Sean Monk had 19.
In the girls game, the Lady Seminoles jumped out to a 22-4 first-quarter lead pressuring Newton on both sides of the court, which caused several turnovers. However, the Lady Rams began to beat the pressure and cut into Salem's lead in the second quarter. The Lady Rams finished the second quarter only trailing by seven.
Newton sophomore Chaconna Marks helped the Lady Rams cut Salem's lead by scoring 10 points.
Salem regrouped during halftime as they came out and went on an 11-0 run before Newton's Shandria Usher put the Lady Rams on the board on a free throw with 2:52 left.
"We readjusted at halftime and took control of the game, it never really got too close," Salem head coach Bill Roberts said. "We wanted to come out in the third quarter and make a statement and jump back on them. That's what we did and they responded."
Salem continued to dominate the game and extend its lead. No matter how hard the Lady Rams tried to get back into the game, Salem kept sinking baskets preventing the comeback.
Hurt scored eight of her 24 points in the fourth quarter.
"She's averaging about 27 (points) a game," Roberts said. "Ariel (Wynter) had eight blocked shots and double-digit rebounds."
Shay Marks paced Newton with 16 points, while Loren Wilkens chipped in 15.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.