CARTERSVILLE - The Newton boys basketball team's quest for a third straight title in the Century Bank Holiday Hoopfest started with a strong performance Wednesday at Cass High School.
Sean Monk paced a balanced scoring attack with 19 points as the Rams (8-1) beat Duluth 77-57 in the opening round of the tournament at Cass High School. Monk, who was 9-for-10 from the foul line, was one of four Rams in double figures.
Jamon Hawkins added 18 points for the Rams, while Montrell Grimes and Tevin Bradley each chipped in 16.
"With four players in double figures, I'm pleased with that," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "We only had five turnovers, and, of course, that makes a big difference. To only have five turnovers is outstanding."
The Rams actually trailed the Wildcats 35-31 at halftime, but they cruised to the victory in the second half by outscoring their opponent 46-22.
"It was as close ball game at the half. In fact, they were up 35-31," Rasmussen said. "We just had a great second half. Our defensive pressure really made a difference, and we forced a lot of turnovers. We shot the ball well and had a great second half."
Newton returns to action in the tournament at 7:30 p.m. tonight against the winner of Hillgrove-Cass in the semifinals.
"We'll get the winner of Hillgrove and Cass," Rasmussen said. "It will probably be the home team Cass, which will be a real tough game because, if they win tonight, they'll be 9-1."
The Newton girls will tip off their holiday tournament today in Smyrna. The Lady Rams will meet Pope in the first round of the Campbell Holiday Classic at 1 p.m.