Lovejoy’s Jahair Cabeza reacts too late as Newton’s Jalen Glover scores on a layup during the Region 2-AAAAAA semifinal round at Newton on Monday. (Staff photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith)
COVINGTON — The Newton boys came back to win the semifinal round of the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament to advance to the championship round. The Newton girls advanced to the championship round today at 7 p.m. against Luella, who beat Rockdale 36-24, with their 64-46 win over Alcovy.
“I think it’s going to be great game,” Newton girls head basketball coach Tiffani Johnson said. “Throughout the years it’s become one of the great region rivals. I think we are the best two teams ion the region and it will be a great game.”
The Lady Bulldogs will start the finals round at 4 p.m. playing Alcovy in the consolation game.
Despite trailing for most of the game, the Newton boys took the lead with 51 seconds left in the game and held on to beat Lovejoy 55-51. As a result, the Rams will play in the championship round against the winner of the Rockdale/Luella game at 8:30 with the winner playing the Wildcats in the consolation game at 5:30 p.m.
Due to deadlines, coverage of the Rockdale boys basketball game against Luella Monday night is not included in today’s edition. Readers can find game coverage on our website at www.newtoncitizen.com.
No. 2 Lovejoy vs No. 3 Newton
With less than three minutes in the game, the Wildcats tried to slow the pace of the game with a five-point lead, 45-40, but Newton kept attacking forcing them back into the game. Newton slowly kept chipping away as Keion Sims made it a one-point game, 49-48. Them with 1:12 left to play, Jalen Glover grabbed the defensive rebound allowing freshman Darvin Jones hit the lead-changing 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to play.
“He practically got knocked out of the game in the first half. He showed a lot of guts to come back,” Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen said of Jones. “He’s a real fighter.”
Also playing big in the final minute was D.J. Hill who had a pair of free-throws but more importantly stole an inbound pass keeping the Wildcats down.
Sims led all scorers with 22 points with Jones scoring 11 and Glover adding 10 for the Rams.
“DJ played well the whole game then Jalen stepped up then and freshmen Darvin Jones stepped up. Really all five starters played extremely well,” Rasmussen said. “That’s what it took. Everybody played well and we won.”
It seemed that no matter how hard the Rams tried, they could never pull away from Lovejoy. Newton worked hard to put two or three consecutive drives together and build a small lead only to have the Wildcats tie the game or take the lead with a long 3-pointer.
In the first half, which had five lead changes, the Wildcats had five 3-pointers and a three-point play. Of those five possessions worth three points, two put the Wildcats in the lead.
“In the first quarter we came out and kind of punched them in the mouth. In the second quarter they kind of punched us back. I said at halftime what are you going to do now? Are you going to hit back or not?,” Rasmussen said. “I thought we just kept battling and kept believing. We stepped up and made some big shots down the stretch.”
About the time Newton took a 30-27 lead early in the third, Lovejoy’s Marion Currington started heating things up for the Wildcats. Currington had nine points in the third and three assists helping give Lovejoy a 40-34 lead heading into the final frame before Newton’s come back.
No. 1 Newton vs No. 5 Alcovy
Pressure affected the Lady Tigers as Newton jumped out to a 15-0 lead. Even though the Lady Rams had to look in their rearview mirror from time to time, they were able to use that cushion to hold onto the win.
“We lost a little momentum after that,” Johnson said. “We started the game great but we need to do a better job of maintaining that intensity all 32 minutes.”
Alcovy closed the first half strong outscoring the Lady Rams 10-4 giving Newton 35-28 halftime lead.
The Lady Tigers tried to comeback but could never close the gap any closer than the seven points they trailed at halftime.
“It was too much to overcome. Those girls play together on both sides of the floor they were hitting on all cylinders. We’re a young team but this is the type of game that we know how to set our bar for next year,” Alcovy head coach David Baker said. I’m not taking anything away from Newton, but we came out flat and we weren’t able to overcome that.”
Alcovy’s Tierra Hodges led all scorers with 15 points. Shooting double-digits for the Lady Rams were Precious Price (13), Sonia Forney (12) and Deandra Reed (11).
No. 2 Luella vs No. 3 Rockdale
The Lady Bulldogs had a hard time keeping up with the Luella girls as they did not score in the second or third quarter of play. Rockdale led 10-8 to end the first period before the Lady Lions went on a 20-0 run through two quarters taking a 28-10 lead.
Shebreta Alexander broke the drought for the Lady Bulldogs making both of her free-throws two seconds into the final period. It took a little bit more time before Rockdale scored their first field goal in more than 20 minutes of play. With 4:40 left on the clock, Jonai Jackson sank a basket to make it 28-14.