0

Lady Rams win in overtime, Rockdale boys control Newton

COVINGTON -- The Newton girls were able to keep the Lady Bulldogs from taking the momentum like the Rockdale boys did in their game on Friday.

The Lady Bulldogs (13-8 overall, 6-3 Region 2-AAAAAA) tied the game with the final basket of regulation but Newton (13-5, 5-3) was able to control overtime for the 75-69 win.

Newton boys (16-8, 6-5) went through a cold spell, allowing Rockdale (13-9, 6-3) to take a commanding lead it never relinquished to split the doubleheader with a 62-48 win.

In the boys game, Newton had the home-court advantage, going from trailing 14-9 with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter to taking a 21-16 lead midway through the second period. But that advantage quickly disappeared as Rockdale closed the first half and went deep in the third period on a 24-0 lead before Jalen Glover, who led the Rams with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to make it 40-24.

Rockdale head coach Alvin Williams credits his seniors with the turn of the tide, including C.J. Wilson, Darius Mitchell and LaRonta Parks who were in double-digit scoring. Wilson led the group with 20 points followed by Parks with 16 and Mitchell with 10.

"We didn't do anything spectacular; we didn't make any real adjustments," Williams said. "We said a couple of words to our seniors and they picked it up. We focused more on our game plan defensively. It was a focus issue early on and we got it together."

Rockdale's defense was able to cause problems for Newton's offense; the Rams only made 28 percent of their shots, going 16-for-56.

Heading into the final frame trailing 45-27, the home team was not about to go down without a fight, closing the gap to 47-38 with 4:23 left in the game. But in the end, Rockdale was able to slow down Newton's comeback.

"I give kudos to Newton's coach (Rick Rasmussen); they're always well-coached and they're at home," Williams said. "Any team that's well-coached and as disciplined as they are and can shoot the basketball, can chip away. Yes, there was some concern."

Also scoring in double figures was Newton's Rashard Cabane with 10 points.

There was no question that the Rockdale girls had the height advantage. The Lady Bulldogs, led by Breanna Richardson, who had 15 points in the first half and 20 for the game, used their height to knock away Newton passes, forcing turnovers.

However, Rockdale had trouble holding on to the ball as well, keeping the game close as the Lady Bulldogs led 26-23 at halftime.

Even though the Rockdale girls did not shrink in the second half, the Lady Rams were able to counter the height difference to take a 44-43 lead to end the third quarter off a late Deandra Reed 3-pointer.

"Every time we were passing, they were jumping," Newton head coach Tiffani Johnson said. "So we were being a little more conscious of the passes we were making by doing more ball fakes. Once we were able to get the ball up the floor we were able to make some easy buckets and make good things happen."

Newton continued to hold the lead through the fourth quarter. The Lady Rams looked like they put themselves in a position to win until Rockdale's Bicana Riley, who had 16 points, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 66 to send it into overtime.

However, the shot was not enough to dampen the Lady Rams' mood or shift the momentum.

"When things happen like that we try to keep it positive and tell them that the game is not over," Johnson said. "We have four more minutes of basketball and we still need to get the (win) that happens. You throw a haymaker up and sometimes it falls and sometimes it doesn't. It's not that we did anything wrong, it was one of those shots. We told them not to hang their head."

Even though Rockdale scored first on a free-throw, Newton made the first field goal and held on to the lead for the win.

While the Lady Rams played well in overtime, the biggest advantage was that Richardson was not a factor after fouling out late in the fourth when Reed took a charge.

"She's their best player and their best athlete," Johnson said. "She's a rebounder and a scorer, so when she went out it was to our advantage. Deandra did a good job to get her out of the game."

Joining her Rockdale teammates in double-figure scoring with 17 points was Brianna Patton. Newton also had a trio of double-digit scorers with Reed (14), Precious Price (16) and Sonia Forney (16).

"Anytime you have three or more players in double figures it's a good night," Johnson said. "That means they're playing as a team."