Newton had put up a good fight. They were in it with Tucker the entire game, but the defending state champion Lady Tigers had taken a six point lead with just a couple of minutes remaining in the contest. To lose by a few points to a team that won a state championship last year would be an honorable moral victory. But the Lady Rams didn't want a moral victory. They wanted to make a statement.
More than just bragging rights are on the line for Friday night's Newton/Tucker matchup. Tucker, which was added to Region 2-AAAAAA this year, is pretty much a powerhouse in every high school sport and that doesn't change in basketball.
The rivalry that exists between Eastside and Newton has been well documented. For any contest or sporting event that the two compete in, the ultimate goal is to beat the other one, the school across the county.
Before the season, Rams' head coach Terrance Banks talked a big game about his team. It had some wondering if he was just being arrogant or if there was actual truth to his words. The Rams just lost their last game of the season, going 2-1 in the playoffs, but it seems Banks was right about a lot.
This week is a special edition of our athletes of the week page. With Eastside and Alcovy basketball having away games, we decided that Newton's seniors would be the athletes of the week. All of Newton's seniors have made some type of impact on this season, but we can only highlight a few of them. Honorable mentions: Nuka Yobo and Steven Montac.
All year long Newton football made its money on offense where Rams' head coach Terrance Banks had nine returning starters from last year's team. As the Black Knights know, the Rams live and die (mostly living) on the arms and legs of Romario Johnson. However, it's been the Rams' defense that has propelled the team to new heights in this year's playoffs.
They say pressure either makes pipes burst or it makes diamonds. Plenty of pressure was on Newton to follow up the win against Valdosta and solidify the Rams as a program to be reckoned with. The only pressure that showed against Central Gwinnett was the pressure from the Rams' defense.
Newton versus Heritage was all it was hyped up to be, at least in terms of the jawing between the two sides in the crowd. To begin the boys matchup, Newton fans brought out their newspapers (Covington News papers of course) when the boys varsity players were announced. It was a smart play, and it worked. Although, the fan contest is over, you can still sends us your fan photos for a chance to get the #FanPhotoOfTheWeek in our weekly Sunday edition.
Before last week, Newton never won a state playoff game. Now, they've won two. The Rams scored 15 unanswered points to beat Central Gwinnett 15-14 and advance to the third round where they will hit the road to face Etowah next Friday.
All the talk has died down now. Newton football was named Fox 5's team of the week on Thursday and has drawn plenty of media attention the past week for its victory over Valdosta. None of that matters tonight when the Rams take on Central Gwinnett at 7:30 at Sharp Stadium.