COVINGTON - A last-second 3-pointer by Newton's Sean Monk allowed the Rams to pull a huge upset, beating No. 4 Douglass 45-42 on the road Tuesday.
"It was a great win for our team and program. To go into Atlanta and beat the No. 4-ranked team in the state in their gym really makes a statement," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "When we play our game, we can play with anyone."
With the game tied at 42, the Astros held the ball and let the clock wind down for the final play. However, with 25 seconds showing on the clock, Newton's Jamon Hawkins intercepted a pass at half court and tried to score.
Rather than take an ill-advised shot, Hawkins pulled the ball out setting up Newton for the final play. With five seconds left, Monk got the ball from Tee Farley for the winning basket.
"Sean hit the game-winning shot last year in our season opener on the road at Jackson, so this was not the first time that he has done this. He is a tough competitor and we knew he'd have the guts to take a shot like that, let alone make it," Rasmussen said. "When it went in and the buzzer sounded, Douglass was stunned and shocked."
Montrell Grimes put the Rams in a position to win the game, scoring nine of Newton's 12 fourth-quarter points as he finished with a team-high 15 points while Hawkins contributed 12 points.
The Rams trailed 9-0 in the first period, but they charged back to close the gap to 12-7 after the opening frame.
Newton stepped up to the challenge and were only one-point back at halftime, 20-19, before outscoring Douglass 14-6 in the third to take a 33-26 lead heading into the final quarter.
"Our paralyzing half-court defense frustrated them and kept them from ever really getting in a rhythm offensively. If we continue to play with confidence, fundamentals and discipline we'll be a hard team to beat the rest of the way," Rasmussen said. "I am proud of the guys for the way they performed in a hostile environment. That is the way you have to play if you want to do anything at the end of the year when it counts the most."
Douglass girls 69, Newton girls 48
The Lady Rams got out to a good first half against the No. 5-ranked Lady Astros. Although Newton trailed by 13 points at the end of the first half, they were hitting their shots and playing good defense.
However, whatever momentum Newton had heading into the second half, Douglass quickly took it away.
"We lost the momentum in the second half," Lady Rams head coach Tiffany Johnson said. "Douglass scored quick baskets to start the third. We were down by 13 then we were down by 20 after two minutes."
Pacing the Lady Rams offensively were Loren Wilkens and Shay Marks who had 19 and 16 points.
"We could've won but we made too many minor mistakes," Johnson said.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.