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Dramatic rally leads to win
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The Newton girls’ basketball team moved on to the second round of the state playoffs Tuesday.
And for those at the game, that is a big statement.

After being plagued by turnovers all through the first half, Newton reversed course and forced 18 Westlake miscues, compared to just eight throughout the first two quarters, to come away with a dramatic 53-51 victory.
Newton, which was down by as many as 12 points in the second quarter, outscored Westlake 25-17 in the fourth quarter, including 11-3 in the final two minutes.

“We put pressure defense on them, created a lot of turnovers and it worked out for us,” Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said.

Mercedes Booker gave Newton (20-8) its first lead, 50-49, making one of two free throws with 17.2 seconds left after Westlake threw it out of bounds. The Lions then threw the ball away again, this time in the hands of Precious Price, who made two free throws with 7.8 seconds left for a 52-49 lead.

The drama wouldn’t stop there, though, as Westlake’s Marissa Cantrell was fouled on a 3-point attempt with just seconds to spare, and made the first two free throws. When it looked like Newton’s comeback would be thwarted, Cantrell missed the third free throw and the Lady Rams came away with the rebound.

Booker then hit a free throw with 2.3 seconds left for the final score.

“Before the game I just told them to fight,” Johnson said. “No matter what happens, just to fight, and that’s what they did.”

Price, who had five points in the first three quarters, finished with 11 points and Sonia Forney paced the Lady Rams with 15.

The Lady Rams (19-9) gave it away 13 times in the first two quarters, including seven times in the first.

Westlake jumped out to a 10-2 lead early behind seven points from Anriel Howard and weren’t threatened for the rest of the first half, doubling the Lady Rams, and building on the lead by forcing 13 first-half turnovers.

Newton, a No. 2 seed, will either play at No. 1 seed Tift County or host fourth-seeded Campbell Friday.