Having All-Region basketball players can pay dividends for a team who is trying to finish off a team on three straight occasions. For Rockdale, those players were Conner Ferrell, Jalen Jordan, and Dwayne Brown.
After watching the game, the honorary player was center Elijah Williams as his blocked shots were second to none. Again and again, Williams denied baskets against a team who mainly focused on three pointers, started to drive to the basket in soft spots of the defense. Those drives were stalled by Williams's protective nature.
Although Williams was playing his game, Ferrell played strong, aggressive and fast. Ferrell's combination of size and speed was too much to handle for Newton, as he consistently drew fouls driving to the basket all game. Nonetheless, the first half was very defensive and energetic. Neither team was backing down without a fight allowing minimum points with a low score showing. Newton showed its ability to make threes and mid-range shots, but Rockdale's energy was too much to handle.
Coming off the bench, guard Adam Ellis provided some spark and tenacity when defending. Also being aggressive with ball, All-Region star Jalen Jordan showed his lightning quick speed driving to the basket the majority of the night, but unfortunately he didn't play too long in the second half. Jordan was hit with two technical fouls. The key technical came after taunting when he blocked Newton's All-Region guard D.J Hill's attempted layup. The call made fans furious as parents yelled from the stands with fire in their voices.
As the second half rolled on, Rockdale began to dominate again with game stretching free throws and shots to increase the lead. Brown and Ferrell took over for the Bulldogs overpowering the Rams as the game closed out.
With 2:41 left in the game, Newton's guard JD Notae fouled out leaving his impactful game at a standstill. With Notae gone from the lineup, Newton was left no choice but to chuck three pointers to try and decrease the lead. That didn't pan out the way they planned as Rockdale grabbed rebound after rebound. With a few minutes left, Ferrell showed his strength to take it to the rim in the last possessions to increase the Bulldogs lead. Rockdale finished off the Rams 52 to 47 to advance to the region championship against Tucker. Newton played Lovejoy in the third place game; check the covnews.com and the rockdalenews.com for details.