Up until Friday, Newton hadn’t lost a region game all season. They traveled down the road to face region opponent and county rival Alcovy on Friday, and Friday night the Lady Tigers ended the Lady Rams’ unbeaten region record.
“It was huge,” David Baker, Alcovy head coach, said speaking on getting the win. “Honestly, this is my fourth time going up against this team and we’ve watched film and we’ve just kind of seen some things, but I take my hat off to them because they played hard. It’s a young group that plays hard, but I knew that we had the experience on the court and it really just showed today.”
The last time these two teams played, Newton won in a thriller. Alexcia Chatman corralled an offensive rebound and putback the game-winner to beat the buzzer. Baker made it a key part of his game plan this time.
The first half was back and forth, but in the end it was all Newton. The Lady Rams led 29-25 at the halfway mark. In the first half Newton was strong on the offensive boards and they were able to get to the foul line going 7-13 from the charity stripe. Alcovy only took five shots from the line, making all five.
“I had them refocus back on my game board,” Baker said when asked what he said to his team at halftime. “The first thing on my game board was box out. Because the first game we lost off a box out. I explained to them, when you’re tired that’s when your fundamentals got to show up. I just went back over the game plan, which was simple, and they responded well.”
Indeed. Newton was able to get to the foul line in the second half as well, but shot 6-11 as the Lady Tigers matched them making 6-8. After making just two threes in the first half, Alcovy doubled its total in the second half and eventually outshot Newton, a team known for its three-point shooting ability, 6-4.
“Kiara Bagby has been a real three-point weapon for us, but we got Arlana Barnes back and that’s another three-point threat,” Baker said. “She’s just really gelled well. She’s been around the team and when she was eligible to play she came on and she just stepped in.”
Defensively, the Lady Tigers played well, especially Ayanna Wimbush. Wimbush was a key part of their zone defense. Repeatedly, she would step up from slightly below the free throw line and run at a shooter to put a hand in their face.
“We talked about contesting all the shots and they made a couple shots with a hand in their face, but we said we would live with that as long as we contested the shots. And we knew that they were just a group that liked to shoot a lot and run so we just tried to match that with defense,” Baker said.
Tierra Hodges scored 26 points and Alezhia Wilson added 10.
“She’s (Hodges) really a bright spot on our team. I could just tell before the game even started, she was focused,” Baker said.
Baker says that Hodges, along with the seniors, is a key leader on the team and that she made sure she got everybody involved.
Newton is now 5-1 in the region and tied with Tucker for first place, but the Lady Rams own the tiebreaker with their victory over Tucker earlier in the season.
Alcovy moved to 8-10 on the season, and 4-2 in the region. The Lady Tigers currently trail Tucker and Newton by one game for the No. 1 spot in the region. There are multiple situations that could happen to allow Alcovy to get the No. 1 seed in the region, but it’ll come down to a win against Tucker when they meet again at Tucker on February 3.