The Newton boys’ basketball team had plenty of momentum, winning five straight, going into Friday night’s game against Rockdale.
But, the Bulldogs used a spark of momentum of their own to end Newton’s streak with a 62-48 home loss by the Rams.
Trailing 14-9, Newton scored the final five points of the fourth quarter — four coming from Rashard Cabane — to tie it going into the second quarter. That’s where things started to unravel for the Rams (16-8, 6-5 Region 2-AAAAAA).
Rockdale (13-9, 6-3) forced four straight turnovers — Newton had two turnovers in the first quarter and five in the second — leading to eight straight points. The four consecutive steals kicked off a 24-0 run by Rockdale, stretching into the third quarter.
“They got on a run and we couldn’t stop it,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. “We let them do some things that weren’t in the game plan to let them do they got out and ran.”
The Bulldogs’ didn’t change anything defensively, but just adhered more to coach Alan Williams’ game plan. That led to easier baskets on the offensive end, including 11 points from senior C.J. Wilson.
“We actually focused a little more on our game plan than defensively,” Williams said. “I think it was a focus issue early on, and then we got it together. We had a good plan.
Newton couldn’t find an answer to that plan, despite scoring six straight to make it a 40-27 game. Rockdale, though scored the final eight points of the third quarter, going up 45-27 headed into the final eight minutes.
“(The run) took the wind out of our sails,” Rasmussen said. “I tried all the adjustments I could and I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out.”
The Rams finished with 14 turnovers, seven in each half, but that was overshadowed by a poor shooting night. The Rams made just 28 percent from the field, going 15 of 56. Newton made somewhat of a comeback, outscoring Rockdale 11-2 to open the fourth quarter, but couldn’t sustain any defensive or offensive presence in the final eight minutes.
“You can’t play well doing that,” Rasmussen said. “I thought we only played well in spurts.”
Newton’s Jalen Glover scored a game-high 21 points, 12 coming in the first half. Cabane added 10 points, despite missing some of the third quarter after taking a hard fall after a charge.
Wilson led Rockdale with 20 points, LaRonta Parks added 16 and Darius Mitchell had 10.
Friday was the first loss for Rockdale since falling to Morrow, 41-35, on Jan. 11. Newton and Morrow’s second meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, but was forfeited by the Mustangs because they scheduled too many games and had to cancel one of their remaining three.
Morrow defeated Luella Friday night, moving Rockdale into first place in Region 2-AAAAAA with the region tournament slated to begin Feb. 13.
Newton falls to fourth in the region, which gives just the top team a bye in the league playoffs. The Rams’ final regular season game is at home Friday against Druid Hills. Rockdale plays at Alcovy Tuesday, before hosting Morrow Friday and going to Lovejoy Saturday.
“Our region is the most balanced region I’ve ever coached in my career,” Williams said. “I love our region; it makes you a better coach, and makes our players work harder. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night.”