COVINGTON — The Lady Rams made school history with their 68-56 win over Luella to go undefeated in region play while the boys failed to gain any offensive momentum in their 31-17 loss to the Lions in the Senior Night doubleheader on Saturday.
The Lady Lions (14-10 overall, 8-4 Region 2-AAAAAA) started the game with a little rally to take the lead but were quickly shutdown when Newton (19-6, 12-0) came back to close out the first period with an 8-0 run.
Newton extended their lead to 11 points late in the second before Luella came back with an 8-0 run of their own giving the Lady Rams a three-point, 35-32, halftime edge.
“We have to try not to have lapses in the game. What I explained to them was that in the region tournament and the state playoffs we can’t afford to have down time like that,” Lady Rams head coach Tiffani Johnson explained. “I think it was a great learning game, we pushed through everything.”
The Lady Lions kept the game close until the the midway point of the fourth when Johnson called a timeout. Following the timeout, the Lady Rams came back onto the floor with a new sense of purpose.
“There was 4:18 left and I explained that this is it. After these four minutes if you don’t get it together you don’t make history, 11-1 is not history since other people have done that before but 12-0 is,” Johnson said. “They could either lay down or stand up and they decided to stand up.”
The Lady Rams responded by ending the game on an 11-2 run to get the win and the end regular-season region play with a perfect record.
“I would’ve liked to have done a couple of things better in the game but at the end of the day we got the win. I never did it (perfect region record) as a player so to do it as a coach it’s just as satisfying and I know the girls are happy,” Johnson said who played for Newton from 1995-1998.
Precious Price led all scorers with 21 points with Mercedes Booker and Cynteria Langhorne scoring 10 points each. Pacing the Lady Lions with 15 points were Dionna Thomas and Sade Jacobs with Brianna Moore scoring 10.
“She has really stepped up over the years as a leader,” Johnson said of Price. “She has no problem putting the team on her back and we’re going to ride her the whole way.”
The Newton boys (19-6, 8-4) had a hard time gaining any momentum as they failed to score in the first period as they trailed 10-0 to end the quarter.
The Rams gained a little bit of ground as Jalen Golver hit a pair of 3-points to take the zero off the scoreboard. But those were the only point he would have for the rest of the game as he led all Newton scorers. Newton’s other point of the half came on a free-throw by Darvin Jones as the Rams trailed the Lions (16-8, 11-1) 15-7 at the half.
The Rams only made 10 percent of the shots from the field going 2-for-19 in the first half.
“I thought unfortunately we got intimidated by the size of their big boy, 7-foot Doral Moore, and I didn’t think there was any reason to do that,” Newton boys head coach Rick Rasmussen said. “We just have to play smart. You don’t have to be intimidated unless someone takes you out of your game.
“I thought we abandoned trusting our offense. Besides not making shots, I thought we didn’t trust each other in the game plan. That’s what I’m most disappointed in.”
The Rams continued to be at least a step behind the Lions scoring four points in the third and six points in the final period. The only aspect of the game where they led Luella was in fouls as Newton had 10 fouls in the second half compared to Luella’s two fouls.
“I thought our defense was pretty good but our poor offense led to their good offense,” Rasmussen said. “We gave them some runouts and some transition dunks early which changed the game. We didn’t execute or trust our offense. We didn’t execute on offense, we weren’t patient at all.”