COVINGTON - The Newton basketball squads started Region 2-AAAAA play with a sweep over M.L. King on Tuesday night.
The Lady Rams won the opening game 52-46 before the boys completed the sweep with a last-second basket by sophomore Derrick Henry to give the Rams a 49-48 win.
Newton 49, M.L. King 48
With 21 seconds left in the game, the Rams (5-0 overall, 1-0 in 2-AAAAA) trailed the Lions (1-2, 0-1), a team they have not beaten in three years, 48-47.
Jamon Hawkins was able to move the ball around until he found Henry under the net for the game-winning shot with three seconds left to play.
"We had something drawn up to check Derrick right away and see if there was a cheap (basket) there. If there wasn't, we wanted to come back and let him (Hawkins) penetrate and see what he could find. He just had a great pass to Derrick," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "He's very unselfish. Right now, he's averaging eight assists per game, and he got one right there. That was a big one."
Henry finished with a game-high 19 points, followed by Hawkins with 11.
Following a couple of lead changes in the second period, the Lions' Chris Daniels, who also had 11 points, sent the game into halftime tied at 27.
"We didn't shoot it particularly well and that's why it was so neck-and-neck. They have more size like half the teams in our region do. We just have to scrap and be better at the little things," Rasmussen said. "Our pressure gave them some trouble; we trapped on the wings some and we got some break-out layups there and did enough to keep it close. If you're at home and you keep it close, you have a good chance."
Newton 52, M.L. King 46
The Lady Rams (2-3, 1-0) took a 35-34 lead at the end of the third quarter on a pair of Emili Russ free throws.
The Lady Lions (0-3, 0-1) were able to keep the game close until the final moments when Newton's Qaiserah Shariff made a basket with M.L. King's Shakime Melson draped all over her for a 49-45 lead.
"I always tell them let good things on offense and defense be your boost on the floor," Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said. "She was waiting on that basket, she needed that basket. Once she found it, she made it. That seemed to give them the boost they needed to win the game."
Late in the first half, Newton allowed the Lady Lions to build a 21-15 lead by turning the ball over 14 times.
However, the Rams never gave up the fight to get back into the game.
"It's one of those things that you hope it doesn't happen, but sometimes it just grabs ahold of you in a game. This is the first time we didn't let those turnovers get us down," Johnson said. "You saw it in the players' faces that they weren't going to lose. They stayed with me, they made the adjustments and no matter how many mistakes we made, we kept playing and we able to pull it out."
Melson led all scorers with 19 points while Candice Hollingsworth had 14 for the Lady Lions.
Russ finished the game with a team-high 16 points and eight boards for the Lady Rams, followed by Sade Weaver (11) and Shariff (10).
"You can't ask any more from a freshman like Emili Russ," Johnson said. "She's a hustler and a great kid."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.