CONYERS — The Newton boys and the Rockdale girls basketball teams got off to a slow start and were unable to pick up the pace as they lost their games of Wednesday’s Region 2-AAAAAA doubleheader.
The Lady Rams (17-6, 10-0) jumped out to a 22-10 halftime lead and were never pressured in their 57-37 win while the Rockdale boys (9-14, 5-6) defense kept the Rams (18-5, 7-3) off balance for most of the game beating Newton 55-48.
The Lady Bulldogs (11-8, 7-4) failed to make free-throws in the first half putting them in a hole they could not mentally get out of early in the game.
Rockdale’s Sojouner Hall made a free-throw to give the Lady Bulldogs the 1-0 lead. But after that it seemed like there was a cover over the hoop as the Lady Bulldogs went 1-for-12 from the line
“I think it set the tone a little bit,” Rockdale head coach Gladys King said. “But it’s like I told the girls, free-throws are mental, they give them to you. I felt like we didn’t take advantage of that opportunity on the free-throw line. If a team is telling you beat us from the free-throw line then you beat them from the free-throw line.”
The failure to make free-throws seemed to make them unavailable to put the ball in the basket scoring three points in the first quarter and seven in the second with Brianna Patton scoring seven of those points.
Even though Newton had a hard time as well, the Lady Rams, behind Precious Price who scored 11 points in the first half, were able to regroup.
“We were 1-for-12 in the first half and that stinks,” King said. “We just didn’t play well, it’s a mental thing and we have to get past it.”
The Lady Rams continued to dominate the game in the third quarter taking a 41-14 lead to end the third frame with Briana Pinnock making a shot at the buzzer.
However, the fourth quarter saw a resurgence in the Lady Bulldogs game as the scored 23 points with the help of Patton’s 10 points.
“I told them when we came out of that third quarter that it was ridiculous, to look at the score. Then we started shooting a little bit and that maybe put a little fire under (Patton) and she started looking for her shot. That was good but I wish she had looked for it earlier and not wait until the fourth,” King said. “It wasn’t just her, it was some of the other girls as well. They didn’t look for their shot they were doing things that weren’t in our game plan.”
Patton finished the game with 21 points while Price led all scorers with 24 points.
Rockdale jumped out to a 7-0 lead as they pressured Newton to the point where they not only had a hard time shooting, they could not find open passing lanes.
Despite not being able to find the shots they wanted forcing them to shoot when they could, the Bulldogs could not pull away taking a 23-19 halftime lead.
Jalen Glover scored 10 of Newton’s points in the first half while the Bulldogs spread the ball around as seven players contributed to their tally.
The Bulldogs defense continued to pressure keeping Newton from taking shots near the rim. The pressure held Newton to eight points in the third to give Rockdale a 37-27 edge going into the final frame.
“We overcame a cold start but then built another hole in the second half that, despite our hustle and good effort late, we could not come back from. I hope our team leaders learn from this and come ready to play in the future,” Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen said. “I knew that Rockdale would play well at home and that it was a rivalry so we couldn’t afford to take them lightly.”
Even though the Rams found some success in the paint, it wasn’t enough to get them from the 10-point deficit as Rockdale held them off the win.
Rockdale’s Conner Ferrel and Glover led all scorers with 14 points followed by Rockdale’s Darryl Tucker with 13 points. Also scoring in double digits were Newton’s D.J. Hill and Keion Sims scoring 10 each.
“I have been telling our players that our mentality needs to be one game at a time, but I don’t think they were listening,” Rasmussen said. “We need a more consistent effort going forward to compete for a region championship.”