Newton closes out gym with split against Druid Hills

COVINGTON -- It was a bittersweet night for Newton's basketball team Friday as it split a doubleheader against Druid Hills.

The Lady Rams had no trouble securing the No. 2 seed for the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament starting on Tuesday with a 49-28 win while the boys let an eight-point lead vanish in their 40-38 loss as the gym held its final Newton home game. The teams will play in a new school building next season.

"I love the gym where I played," Newton head coach and 1999 graduate Tiffani Johnson said. "I have a lot of memories here, but it will also be nice to go to a new facility and start things over. I'm sad to see it go. When I played here we called it The Palace."

Newton's (17-7, 9-3) defense was on fire against the Lady Red Devils (6-15, 1-11), holding them to single-digit scoring in all four quarters. Druid Hills had its best production in the fourth quarter, scoring nine points. It was held to four points and forced into 30 turnovers. Druid Hills' top scorer, Nikki Mintz, was held to eight points.

"We wanted to make our defense our offense. We also wanted to work on our pressure and press for the region tournament," Johnson said. "That was our goal."

The Lady Rams didn't have any trouble offensively, scoring 34 points in the first half. Pacing the Lady Rams on offense was Precious Price, who scored 15 points, 11 coming in the second quarter.

"She woke up in the second quarter and finally started looking for her shot attacking the basket," Johnson said.

The 15 points scored in the second half by the Lady Rams were with different combinations using bench players.

"We're going in at No. 2 and we'll play the same team on Tuesday in the region tournament. It gives us momentum, enthusiasm and a little confidence going in," Johnson said. "We don't want to overlook anyone. We just like our chances."

In the boys game, Druid Hills (12-9, 5-7) came out not only attacking and hacking, fouling four times in the first four minutes of the game. Newton (16-9, 6-6) did not have trouble with the pressure and the fouling, taking a 13-9 lead to end the first quarter.

After an extremely low-scoring second period, with the Red Devils scoring three points and Newton adding two to its total, the Rams closed the third frame strong, taking a 31-23 lead with eight minutes left in regulation.

The Red Devils came back, closing the gap to 33-30 at the midway point before taking a 35-34 lead with 2:26 left on the clock.

Newton's D.J. Hill, who was second in scoring for the Rams with 10 points, gave Newton a 38-37 with 41 ticks left. But Druid Hills scored a basket with 30 seconds left and hit 1 of 2 free throws to take a 40-38 lead with 13 seconds showing.

Newton tried to set up a final play but was unable to get the ball into its half of the court in time.

Rashard Cabane led the Rams in scoring with 11 points.