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Newton knocks off Luella

LUELLA -- Newton's boys basketball team made its mark toward ending the regular season as the No. 1 seed after handing the current Region 2-AAAAAA leader, Luella, its third loss of the season with a 55-44 victory on Tuesday.

The Rams (15-7, 5-4) went from a two-way tie for fourth place to a three-way tie for third with Morrow and Lovejoy.

"We've won five region games in a row," Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen said. "We could be tied for first if we keep winning. We're surging at the right time. We need to keep the momentum going."

The Rams started a little slow before shifting their game to another level. After trailing 11-7 to finish the first period, the Rams turned things around to take a 21-17 halftime lead. Helping Newton take the lead was Jalen Glover's three 3-pointers.

"We really hit our stride. Jalen Glover really sparked us," Rasmussen said.

Luella (15-7, 6-3) closed the gap to 30-29 to end the third before taking the lead early in the final quarter. But the Rams were not about to go down with a fight. Newton's defense got a spark, shutting down the Lions while creating scoring opportunities.

"We forced several turnovers, had several steals and breakaway layups and they kind of fell apart at the end," Rasmussen said. "I was surprised by that. We ended the game on a 19-10 run."

Newton, which outscored Luella 25-16 in the fourth period, was only up by two points before the defense sparked the offensive output.

Galen was Newton's leading scorer with 17 points followed by sophomore point guard D.J. Hill with 15 points.

"Their best player, TeMarcus Blanton, had 25 points the first time we played them," Rasmussen said. "Taylor Hawkins held him to 10 points. Their senior point guard had scored 19 points the first time we played. D.J. held him to single digits.

"The first time we played Luella, we lost 81-78 in double overtime. They lost three of their last four region games so we caught them at a good time."