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Poor shooting dooms Bulldogs
Rockdale County's Darryl Tucker rises above Newton's Jalen Glover for a layup. Tucker scored a team-high 16 points in the Bulldogs' loss. - photo by Anthony Banks

It was a rout from the get-go Wednesday night in Covington, as the Newton Rams defeated rival Rockdale County 65-49 to move to 3-2 overall in Region 2-AAAAAA.

D.J. Hill led Newton with 19 points, while Keion Sims added 12, including eight points in the third quarter, in the win.

Newton led by as many as 11 in the first quarter, jumping out on a 13-2 run to open the game, while Rockdale’s offensive woes plagued it in a first half that saw the Bulldogs score just 18 points.

“I thought we played well early and we got a lead that we never relinquished,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. “It made a difference because we were off on our shooting tonight. Our top two shooters didn’t have great nights, but we were able to build up a big lead anyway because other guys stepped up.

“We still have things that we need to work on, but I thought we played well overall,” he said.

Rockdale turned the ball over just four times in the first quarter of play, but was unable to score from the floor, shooting 25 percent during the quarter and 30 percent for the entire first half.

“Honestly, this was a poor effort tonight,” Rockdale coach Alen Williams said. “Not taking anything away from Newton, but this game was more on us and what we failed to do. We’ll have to turn around quick and get after it hard in the morning, because we have two more rivalry games coming up against Alcovy and Heritage.”

The Rams built up an 11-point first half lead, as five different players helped Newton build a 13-2 advantage.

Taylor Hawkins and Sims knocked down the Rams' first two baskets of the night and a Darvin Jones 3-pointer from the left corner with 4:07 left in the period pushed Newton’s advantage to 11-2.

Tarik Rogers converted a layup after grabbing an offensive rebound, continuing Newton’s scoring run before Rockdale’s Darryl Tucker stopped the Rams’ run with a layup. Newton carried a 15-7 advantage into the second quarter, despite Tucker scoring five points for the Bulldogs in the opening period.

In the second quarter, Rockdale ramped up its defensive pressure, giving the Rams different defensive traps and pressures. The Rams withstood the Bulldogs’ early push, limiting Rockdale to 11 points in the quarter.

Rockdale cut Newton’s lead to 18-13 on a Brian Jessie runner in the lane with 5:15 left in the half, but Newton went on a 12-0 run fueled by seven points from Hill, carrying a 32-18 lead into halftime.

Newton and Rockdale traded baskets in the third, with Sims scoring eight points in the quarter to keep the Bulldogs at bay. Newton’s Jalen Glover also scored his first point of the contest on a free throw; he had scored a total of 49 points in the Rams' previous two contests.

Newton narrowly outscored the Bulldogs 18-14 in the quarter, pushing its lead to 18 heading into the final period of play.

Rockdale started the fourth quarter on a 7-1 run, including a 3-pointer from Jalen Jordan and a Conner Ferrell coast-to-coast layup, but Hill ended the Rams shot at a comeback bid, converting a jumper with 4:55 left in the game, ending Rockdale’s run.

Tucker finished with a team-high 16 points for the Bulldogs while also grabbing 11 rebounds in the loss.

Rockdale returns to action Friday night on the road, making the trip back to Covington to take on Alcovy at 8:30 p.m.