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Rams win, move into tourney final
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Two games up, two games down. One more to go.


Newton took out Athens Christian Academy 47-39 Wednesday to reach the final at the Wingslinger Holiday Bash at East Jackson.


The Rams held on for a 57-55 win over Archer in Tuesday's opener.


Derrick Henry led the way in both games. Henry scored a game high 21 Wednesday after dropping 22 on Archer Tuesday.


Newton won despite shooting 55 percent from the free throw line. The Rams didn't shoot the ball well from the line in Tuesday's win either.


"We needed a win and advance to the championship game and that's what we had hoped for but we're not really firing on all cylinders right now," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. ""We've had some guys miss for vacation or whatever and we're not really where we were before vacation. We're sputtering a little bit right now but we did enough to get it done."


In Wednesday's win, the Rams trailed for much of the first half before taking a 16-15 lead with 2:21 to go in the second quarter.


Henry started slowly, scoring seven in the first half on two 3-pointers but heated up in the second half. He had eight in the fourth quarter as the Rams scored 17 to pull away. The Rams shot 22 percent from the field in the first half en route to a season-low 19 points.


Despite Athens Academy being a single A team, the Spartans were in the game until the fourth quarter. The Rams stretched their lead to as many as 10 and outscored Athens Academy 17-14.


Newton's 47 points wasn't its lowest output of the season. The Rams scored 46 in a win over Alcovy to open the year.


Each time Newton looked poised to break away, the Spartans responded.


"They're fundamental and disciplined. They have more size than we do and played well defensively we just didn't hit the broad side of a barn," Rasmussen said.


Henry struggled from the filed and free throw line as he continues to play through a sprained wrist. He was 7 for 13 but found his stroke and he sank five straight free throws in the second half.


"He (Henry) did his job. I thought he was good defensively too," Rasmussen said. "You're going to ride your horse. I thought some other guys contributed and I thought we played well defensively too."


Nobody else scored in double figures Wednesday. Stephen Croone added 14 in game Tuesday's game. But nine Rams cracked the scoring column Wednesday. Justin Gates had five points followed by Shane Henry and Willie Smith who each had four.


"We wanted to get more people involved and see if we can make ourselves a little deeper and I think we did that some," Rasmussen said. "We're still churning the lineup and trying to find the best mix right now. It's unusual for us to do that but we don't have a clear five starters right now."