It wasn’t the prettiest performance Monday night from the Newton girls varsity basketball team, but in the end, the Lady Rams put forth just enough effort to edge rival Alcovy 64-46, reaching the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament finals.
Precious Price led three Lady Rams in double figures with 13 points, as Newton blew open the game in the first quarter with a 15-0 start.
Alcovy battled back, trimming Newton’s advantage to nine in the second half, but Newton went 6-of-10 at the foul line and turned the ball over just four times in the final period to hang on for the 18-point victory.
With the loss, Alcovy will face Rockdale County in the tournament’s consolation game Tuesday night at 4 p.m., while the Lady Rams face Luella in the title game at 7 p.m. at Newton.
“I’m definitely happy to reach the final,” Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said. “We still made a lot of mistakes and we didn’t play exactly the way we would have liked, but at the end of the day, a win is a win and we’re moving on.”
Newton came out of the locker room on fire, starting the game on a 15-0 run. Deandra Reed hit a 3-pointer on the Lady Rams’ second possession and Sonia Forney converted an old-fashioned three-point play, helping Newton to an early 10-0 lead. Reed connected on another 3-pointer and Cynteria Langhorne scored inside on a layup, capping off the Lady Rams’ early run with 2:22 gone in the first quarter.
Daja Barnes ended the run on a long jumper from the right corner, but Newton reeled off six more points on a Lydia Brown layup and a Mercedes Booker score inside, stretching Newton’s lead to 21-2.
Alcovy closed the quarter on a 9-6 run, fueled by a Kiara Bagby 3-pointer and back-to-back scores from Tierra Hodges, but the Lady Rams’ early momentum was enough to give Newton a 27-11 advantage heading into the second period.
“We came out fired up,” Johnson said. “We were ready to play and were focused. We executed the game plan very well in the first quarter; I just wish we could have kept the intensity up throughout.”
A Barnes 3-pointer and Wanesiha Morris jumper led a five-point push from Alcovy to start the second, but the Lady Tigers and Lady Rams traded baskets, as Newton struggled to regain its early energy. The Lady Rams turned the ball over eight times in the quarter, allowing Alcovy to trim Newton’s lead to 11 with 1:57 to go in the half on a Hodges layup.
Alcovy cut the lead to single digits on its next possession on a Quantasia Perry layup and Alcovy went into the half outscoring Newton 17-8 in the quarter, trailing 35-28 at halftime.
Newton scored on backt0back baskets from Reed and Forney minutes into the third quarter, pushing its lead back to double digits, but Alcovy responded again, cutting the lead to 41-32 on a Keidra Spears’ jumper in the lane. Price hit from the top of the key with 3:57 to go in the quarter, extending Newton’s lead to 46-34.
The Lady Tigers traded baskets with Newton to close the period, taking a 13-point deficit into the final quarter of play.
The Lady Rams put the game away with a 7-1 run to start the fourth quarter, going 3-of-4 from the free-throw line during the run while adding a pair of Price layups.
Alcovy scored twice on an Ayanna Wimbush layup and a Bagby runner, cutting the lead to 15, but Newton added three more points at the charity stripe and scored on a Brianna Pinnock jumper to close out the semifinal victory.
“It would have been nice to pull this game out, but we came out too flat and we couldn’t recover,” Alcovy coach David Baker said. “This is one of those games that we can look at and try to build toward next year. The best thing about it is that we’re still alive, we’re still going to the state tournament.”
Forney joined Price in double figures with 12 points while Reed added 11.
Hodges finished as the lone Lady Tiger in double figures with 15 points, including 12 in the first half.