COVINGTON - The Newton boys tamed the Luella Lions 74-55 on Tuesday to stay one game behind region leaders Douglass and Stephenson.
The Rams (15-4 overall, 7-3 Region 2-AAAAA), who are in fourth place, have games against Union Grove, M.L. King, Redan and Stephenson left on their schedule.
Newton came out and set the tone early against the Lions with a 12-2 run on the way to a 19-12 first-quarter lead.
By halftime, the Rams had control over Luella (4-15, 2-8) with a 38-22 advantage heading into the locker room.
"We were firing on all cylinders and played a great overall game," said Newton coach Rick Rasmussen. "When we play with this kind of confidence and take care of the ball, we are a very good basketball team."
Newton started the second half without missing a beat as it led by as many as 26 points.
Montrell Grimes helped lead Newton, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter. Grimes also was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Before the third period came to an end, Luella made an effort to come back, cutting Newton's lead to 59-42.
While Grimes had a big third period for the Rams, Sean Monk made the fourth his quarter.
Monk scored 11 points in the final frame as he paced Newton offensively with 22 points.
"He came to play," Rasmussen said. "He had a good game at Luella last year, so I think he has good vibes about this place. Last year, he scored 19 points there."
Newton played to near perfection as it only turned the ball over six times while forcing 18 Luella turnovers.
Jamon Hawkins and Tee Farley also had double-digit scoring nights with 15 and 13 points.
"Our starters all played extremely well," Rasmussen said. "They made the extra passes to break down their man-to-man defense, and we were firing on all cylinders. Then when they went zone, we just made more jumpers. It was a great way to play a region road game. We got them down early and never let them get back into it."
Another aspect to taking a big lead and holding it is that Rasmussen got to play some of his younger players, including Jonathan Turner, who scored the first varsity points of his career.
"J.T. works hard every day and never complains," Rasmussen said. "He is the type of young man we want to represent our program."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.