It was a jam-packed house at Eastside High Friday night, as the local police had to turn fans away as the Lady Eagles hosted Newton High in a rivalry contest.
Newton and Eastside always brings out a huge crowd, but this game had a playoff feel, as the building buzzed with anticipation.
Despite the hype, it was the Lady Rams who soared past Eastside in convincing fashion, defeating the Lady Eagles 61- 48.
“Anytime it’s a county rivalry, emotions are going to be high,” Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said. “But, I think we did a good job pulling the game out.”
The Lady Rams' “Big Three” showed up again in the rivalry contest, led by Deandra Reed with 17 points. Guard Precious Price added 10 points, and Sonia Forney pitched in eight points in the non-region win.
Eastside held its own against Newton, keeping the Lady Rams on their heels for much of the game without Jazzmine Cook, who missed her second consecutive game due to injury.
The Lady Eagles were led by Zaria Barton with 17 points, while Deja Saintilus added nine for Eastside.
Both teams came out ready to play, but Newton set the defensive tone in the first quarter, pressuring the Lady Eagles and forcing turnovers. Eastside did settle into the game, making it a close after the first quarter.
“I think we got all hyped up for a big rivalry game,” Eastside coach Matthew Jackson said. “They (Newton) jumped on us a little bit early.”
Newton's offense started to heat up a little as it went into the second quarter leading by only two, but finished the half with a 10-point lead. Newton scored 19 points in the quarter, and held Eastside to only 11 points.
Eastside came out extremely flat in the third quarter, and trailed by as many as 17 points late into the period.
But, the Lady Eagles made a huge run in the early fourth quarter, putting pressure on the Lady Rams to hold on their lead in the final period of play.
The Lady Eagles went on a 16-4 run, cutting the lead to only five points, but Newton hit big-time free throws down the stretch, bringing the lead back up to double digits and sealing the game.
The win moves the Lady Rams to 5-3 overall, while Eastside falls to 6-2.
Newton and Eastside will meet again after the holiday break on the Lady Rams' home court on Jan. 11.
Newton continues its season on Tuesday on the road at Morrow before taking on Woodland on the road next Saturday.
The Lady Eagles have just one contest next week, at home against Monroe Area at 6 p.m. Tuesday.