On Saturday, the Alcovy freshman boys, junior varsity teams and varsity squads came knocking on Newton's door, each looking for a much-needed victory.
After watching their freshmen, JV and girls varsity lose, the Alcovy boys held the last chance for a win. Fresh off an upset of Loganville at home the previous night, the Tigers (3-3 overall, 2-1 Region 8-AAAA, Sub-region B) hoped to catch lightning in a bottle for the second night in a row against the Rams.
But the Rams (6-1, 2-1 Region 2-AAAAA) had other ideas, as they were able to finally put away the Tigers in a thrilling 55-50 crosstown victory.
"It was a good ballgame, just like we expected it to be," said Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen. "We knew they would come ready to play, but we did, too."
One reason for the Rams' victory was because of a career-high evening for senior Montrell Grimes. "Big Hops," as he is known by the Ram-faithful, netted a game-high 20 points on a 6-of-6 shooting from the field. He also went 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Grimes also grabbed six rebounds and had four assists.
"Montrell was awesome tonight," praised Rasmussen. "He picked a great game to bring out his best. He plays with great emotion; he is one of our senior leaders and his play did the talking tonight."
Meanwhile, Alcovy was led by senior point guard Worrel Clahar who scored 14 points.
Near the end of the first quarter, Alcovy led 15-11, riding on three 3-pointers by Brad Williams. As the clock wound down, Newton's Jamon Hawkins (13 points, four assists) nailed a trey of his own to cut the lead 15-14 as the horn sounded.
The Hawkins' bucket spurred the Rams to a 17-2 run and a 28-17 halftime lead.
In the quarter Grimes scored seven points, including an emphatic one-handed dunk while being fouled, to which he completed the three-point play.
Newton center Tevin "Spider-Man" Bradley netted 10 of his 14 points during the first half.
Grimes added six more points in the third period. However, a balanced Alcovy attack saw the Rams lead shrink to just two as the quarter ended, 34-32.
"We knew they wouldn't quit as everyone gives their best in rivalry games," said Rasmussen, "but I thought our kids played great down the stretch. We hit 9-of-11 free throws in the fourth quarter - that is what good teams do to preserve leads."
As a result, the final period belonged to the Rams as they outscored Alcovy 21-18 to extend their record to 3-0 against their newfound county rival.
All five Newton starters scored in the last quarter to hold off the pesky Tigers.
Down the stretch, a steal and breakaway layup by Hawkins and another layup helped the Rams keep the lead for good. Point guard Tee Farley, Sean Monk, Grimes and Hawkins all hit crucial free throws down the stretch. But the final nail in the coffin for Tigers was a swooping left-handed layup by Bradley that ignited the home crowd to its feet.
The win gives Newton a 2-0 record in the county this year after having beaten Eastside earlier this month, and a perfect 10-0 mark over the past four seasons.