Despite falling to M.L. King the night before, the Newton boys basketball squad avenged its loss with a convincing 72-56 victory at home Saturday in region action.
Meanwhile, the opposite occurred for the Lady Rams, who were not quite as fortunate this time around, losing to Luella 56-40 after defeating M.L. King.
"I thought we showed a lot of heart and toughness to come back and play well tonight," said Newton boys coach Rick Rasmussen. "It was good to be at home; we hadn't been at home since before the break. We challenged the team to respond and come back strong and they did."
After a slow start for the Rams (10-3 overall, 3-2 Region 2-AAAAA) during the opening half - one which resulted in just over 30 percent shooting - they still led 24-22 at the break.
But like all good teams do they normally find a way to get their offense going, and Newton found its rhythm in the second half, shooting 70 percent thus making it almost 50 percent for the game.
The Rams retained the lead entering the fourth quarter by just a slight margin, 40-37. However, Newton exploded for its biggest offensive performance of any quarter this season, scoring 32 points en route to the win.
"It was nice to beat (Luella) after losing two close ones to them last season," admitted Rasmussen. "I think we showed we are a different team this season."
Despite shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Lions (3-8, 1-4) simmered to 39 during the latter half.
"This group of young men really care about each other and have good attitudes," complimented Rasmussen. "They are willing to make the sacrifices that it takes to play good team ball the way we expect them to. Although the schedule is extremely tough, I am confident we'll continue to get better as the season progresses. We'll have our ups and downs, as even good teams do, but I really like this team."
Newton's Jamon Hawkins paved the way to lead all scorers with a career-high 27 points. He also had six assists compared to just one turnover, including five steals and five rebounds.
"Jamon has the potential to be a great player," praised Rasmussen, "and if he continues to work hard and be unselfish, he can really flourish in our program."
Montrell Grimes added 12 points and seven boards, while Tee Farley had eight points, all in the second half. Demetrius McCray had his best game of the season, scoring 10 points off the bench to compliment six rebounds.
"Demetrius has a chance to really make a difference for us if he continues to work at it and play with confidence," noted Rasmussen. "Montrell and Tee do the little things that (make) such a big difference, and Tevin is a fearless leader for us, which is amazing considering he is only a sophomore. He too will only get better with time and hard work."
For the girls, the Lady Rams (4-8, 1-4) started the game off with a high level intensity after coming off a big win over M.L. King.
After keeping it close during the first half of action - trailing by just three points at the break, 25-22 - Newton lost its aggressiveness in the third frame before ultimately collapsing in the end.
Shay Marks paced the Lady Rams with 19 points, which was also a game-high.
Newton will next do battle Saturday on the road against Stephenson in what should be another evening of exciting region hoops.