COVINGTON - The Newton basketball team chalked up a home sweep over county rival Alcovy on Saturday.
The Rams (6-1) held off a late charge from the Tigers to win the boys game 55-50, while the Lady Rams put Alcovy in a deep hole in the first half and cruised to a 58-32 victory.
"It was good ball game just like we expected it to be. We knew they would come ready to play, and I thought that we did, too," Newton boys coach Rick Rasmussen said.
The Newton boys took the early lead on a 3-pointer by Sean Monk before a Brad Williams 3-pointer gave the Tigers a 10-7 lead. Newton jumped in front for a while before Alcovy scored five straight points to lead 15-11.
But starting from the final shot in the first quarter, a 3-pointer by Newton's Jamon Hawkins, to the final shot of the second quarter, a pair of free throws by Newton's Montrell Grimes, it was all Newton.
The Rams went on a 17-2 run to close the first half, turning a four-point deficit to an 11-point lead in the process.
"We're still doing some things that young ball players do. We've got some guys that aren't fully committed," Alcovy boys coach Eugene Brown said.
"We have to keep pushing them until they get to where we're trying to go."
Whatever caused the Tigers to implode in the second period, they got over it in the third quarter as they came back to make it a two-point game, 34-32, heading into the final eight minutes.
"We've been in a lot of close ball games and it's nothing new, it's good for us. Those are character winning games," Rasmussen said. "We've told them that defense builds championships and we're trying to play for the Newton County championship."
In the fourth quarter, the Tigers took the lead on a Worrell Clahar basket with 2:01 left to play.
However, untimely turnovers and mental errors by Alcovy in conjunction with clutch free throws by Newton allowed the Rams to regain and extend the lead in the final minute.
"We actually took the lead, and then we had a mental breakdown. In that situation, more experienced guys don't leave the guy wide open under the basket," Brown said. "You have to keep growing, keep maturing and hopefully one day it'll all come together.
"It always comes back to
fundamentals when they game is tight. Some guys just haven't bought into what we're trying to do. Our guys just have to do a better job down the stretch."
Clahar led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points, 10 coming in the fourth period. Brad Williams (11) and Kevin Boyle (10) also scored in double figures for Alcovy.
The Rams were 6-for-8 from the free-throw line in the first half before missing all four attempts in the third frame. But when the game was on the line, they made 9-of-11 in the fourth period to hold on for the win.
"You have to make those things at the end, they're important. You do them just like you do in practice," Rasmussen said. "If you don't treat them any differently, then you knock them down at the end when it counts."
Grimes led all scorers with 20 points while Tevin Bradley added 14 and Hawkins chipped in 13.
In the girls game, Alcovy's Tiffany Moody scored the first three points for the Lady Tigers as they trailed by one point early in the game.
That changed when the Lady Rams began using full-court pressure to cause Alcovy turnovers that resulted in quick and easy Newton baskets.
The Lady Rams scored nine points off pressure for a 13-3 lead.
"It's something that we normally do when we see that a team has trouble bringing the ball up," Newton girls coach Tiffani Johnson said. "We put a little pressure and see if we can get an easy steal. If we can get them to play defense without coming to half court then that's what we're going to do."
Newton continued to build its lead in the second quarter behind the shooting of Loren Wilkens, who scored eight of her 11 first-half points in the second quarter with the help of three treys.
Wilkens led all players with 14 points as she finished the game with four 3-point baskets.
The Lady Tigers kept pace with Newton in the third period as Newton was only able to extend its lead by one point. But by then, the game was out of reach as Newton held a commanding 46-28 lead.
The fourth period belonged to Newton as it outscored Alcovy 12-4 for the win.
Shakira Stroud led the Lady Tigers with nine points.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.