Rockdale earned the season split with Newton after holding serve at home with a 66-55 win Saturday. But it wasn't easy.
The Rams erased a 23-point Rockdale lead and made a furious comeback in the second half only to come up short
A night after an emotional win over Stephenson, the Rams were unable to muster any offense in the opening half and faced a 23-point deficit entering the third quarter. Newton made a furious comeback in the second half and cut Rockdale's lead to six inside of three minutes to play before the Bulldogs closed out the game on an 11-4 run.
"This is our fourth game in five days. We came out flat after a tough, emotional game last night and that cause us to come out flat," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "You can't afford to have a bad quarter or have a bad half against a team with that kind of talent."
Derrick Henry led all scorers with 22 points and Newton outshot Rockdale at the free throw line 19 of 26 versus just 9 of 20. The difference came in offensive production over the first 16 minutes.
Rockdale jumped out to a 13-4 lead after one quarter and outscored Newton 24-10 in the second. The Rams couldn't get anything going and Rockdale was able to turn missed shots and turnovers into points.
The second half was a different story. Newton chipped away at the Bulldogs lead in the third by outscoring Rockdale 14-11. Down 20 to start the fourth, Newton opened the final stanza with a 15-5 run and trailed by eight points with 3:34 left to play.
After a Rockdale bucket, Stephen Croone knocked down two free throws to cut the deficit back to eight. After a Newton stop, Willie Smith scored to make it a 57-51 game. Kevin Ware responded with a dunk on the other end to push Rockdale's lead back to eight and the Rams were unable to complete the comeback.
Ware led the Bulldogs with 15 points and was one of three Rockdale players in double figures. Darion Clark had a relatively quiet night, scoring 11 while Bernard Thompson also scored 11.
"We built a really big hole. But we talked (at halftime) about competing and not letting down and just chip away," Rasmussen said. "I thought we had a great second half. We didn't lie down. Most teams when it gets like that just lie down and lose by 30. We don't do that at Newton."