COVINGTON - The M.L. King boys basketball team showed why it is the No. 4 ranked squad in Class AAAAA, beating Newton 74-57 on Friday night.
Meanwhile, the Lady Rams suffered the same fate as the boys. They found a way to lose 43-40 after turning the ball over 13 times in the fourth period.
Newton tried to keep pace with the Lions in the first period but they were unable to equal M.L. King's intensity on the boards.
The Rams were five points behind the Lions late in the first period but M.L. King's ability to outrebound Newton began to affect the score. With the score at 16-11, the Lions closed the period by scoring 11 unanswered points.
Trailing 42-24 to start the second half, the Lions continued where they left off as they took a 46-26 lead.
But Newton began to match M.L. King's aggressive play as it cut the lead to 46-31. Despite their effort, the Rams could not shut down the Lions as they started the final frame down 58-42.
The Rams cut M.L. King's lead down to 12 twice. In the final two minutes, Newton was forced to foul, allowing the Lions to score their final five points from the courtesy line.
Newton's Montrell Grimes, along with the Lions' Sean Smith and Demetrius Bates, led all scorers with 20 points. Also scoring double digits were Newton's Jamon Hawkins (14) and M.L. King's Shonzikio Williams (13).
In the girls game, Newton had a hard time holding onto the ball early in the contest as it lost the ball four times in their first five possessions.
After the Lady Lions jumped out 8-2, Newton began forcing M.L. King to commit errors.
A forced error allowed Loren Wilkens to score on a three-point play and give Newton a 9-6 lead to end the first frame.
After losing the lead on the first basket of the second period, the Lady Rams battled back to go into the locker room leading 22-18.
Newton struggled in the third quarter to make baskets as many of their shots were short and bounced off the rim. However, they were able to dominate the boards and not let the Lady Lions take advantage of the situation.
A basket at the buzzer by Leah Butler put Newton up 32-27 with one quarter remaining.
"The first three quarters there were some things we could've done better but I can't complain," Newton head coach Tiffani Johnson said. "We were playing a good game and we were doing very well with the offensive rebounds."
Just like the first period, Newton turned the ball over and allowed the Lady Lions to take the lead.
Newton lost the ball eight of the first nine times it touched the ball, allowing M.L. King to score six straight points and take a 33-32 lead.
Newton regained the lead 36-33, but they were unable to hold onto it as M.L King pressured Newton into more turnovers.
"Turnovers killed us. With four minutes left in the game, I guess nobody wanted to step up and have the responsibility of the ball in their hands. They kept watching the ball like it was hot and it cost us the game," Johnson said.
"When it came down to situational basketball we didn't do what we were suppose to do. We practiced that (Thursday) and it was like we forgot what we were suppose to do. They had a very difficult time executing and it wasn't because of MLK, their heads weren't in the game."
Butler paced all scorers with 16 points while Christian Page led M.L. King with 15 points.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.