The Newton girls varsity basketball team may not have been perfect Wednesday night on the road against Rockdale County, but its unblemished region record stayed intact, defeating the Lady Bulldogs 57-37 to move to 10-0 in Region 2-AAAAAA.
Precious Price led Newton with a game-high 24 points, scoring 11 in the third quarter alone, while the Lady Rams’ stingy defense held Rockdale to 14 points over the first three quarters.
Rockdale’s woes began at the free-throw line, shooting 1-of-12 at the charity stripe in the first half, and 23 fourth-quarter points wasn’t enough to overcome its anemic output in the opening 24 minutes.
“Any time we get a region win and a rivalry win it’s great,” Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said. “We have a goal in mind and we’re going to keep working hard and playing hard to get there. We didn’t start the game all that well, but we battled through and began to look like our usual selves after the first quarter.”
Newton asserted its dominance early in the first half, allowing the Lady Bulldogs three points in the opening quarter. Rockdale scored first on a Brianna Patton free throw, but Newton outscored Rockdale 10-2 over the final seven minutes, as Price and Shay Lawrence connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Rams an eight-point advantage.
A Sonia Forney layup gave Newton its ninth and 10th points of the quarter, as Rockdale went into the second quarter on a nearly four-minute scoring drought.
The Lady Rams stretched their lead to double digits on an Imani Broadnax layup, but Shebreta Alexander ended the Lady Bulldogs’ scoreless streak with a fastbreak layup, trimming Newton’s lead to 14-9.
Price scored on consecutive baskets, but Patton kept Rockdale within striking distance, scoring on a 3-pointer from the right wing with 3:07 left in the half. Rockdale and Newton traded baskets to close the period, allowing Newton to take a 22-10 lead into halftime.
“I think (our free-throw shoot) set the tone a little bit,” Rockdale coach Gladys King said. “But, like I told the girls, free throws are mental – they’re free – they’re given to you, so you need to take the opportunity to use them. I felt like we didn’t take advantage of that opportunity at the free-throw line.”
Out of the break, Newton held Rockdale scoreless for the first 3 ½ minutes of the third quarter, going on an 8-0 run to bury the Lady Bulldogs.
Price hit a pair of 3-pointers during the run and Mercedes Booker scored a layup off a Rockdale turnover, pushing Newton’s advantage to 30-10.
Rockdale finished with four points in the period, scoring on a Patton jumper and two free throws, and Newton went 5-of-8 at the charity stripe to extend its lead to 41-14 at the end of three quarters.
Rockdale scored 23 points in the fourth, including 10 from Patton, but Newton’s early lead was too much to overcome, as the Lady Bulldogs fell to 7-4 in region play.
Patton finished with 21 of the Lady Bulldogs’ 37 points in the loss.
Newton returns to action Friday on the road at Druid Hills, while Rockdale travel to Morrow for its final regular season contest at 6 p.m.