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Lady Rams turn up pressure
The Newton girls varsity basketball team captured its fifth region victory of the season Wednesday night, defeating rival Rockdale County 56-45. - photo by Anthony Banks

It took over two quarters of play, but when the Newton Lady Rams varsity basketball team finally woke up Wednesday night, they woke up energized, outscoring Rockdale County by 15 in the second half, edging the Lady Bulldogs 56-45 at home in Region 2-AAAAAA action.

Cynteria Langhorne led Newton with 16 points, including 10 in the third quarter, while Sonia Forney added 15 in the win.

The Lady Rams started a different line-up after their loss to Salem last Saturday, but after the first 16 minutes of play, the roster switch found its grove.

Rockdale County led 28-24 after the first half, but Newton limited the Lady Bulldogs to 17 points in the second half on their way to their fifth region victory of the season.

“The third quarter gave us the confidence we needed to finish the game,” Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said. “We started out slow and struggled in the first half, but we had a good locker room talk and we came out and played as a team after the first half.”

Down by four after the first half, Newton turned up the defensive pressure, forcing five Rockdale turnovers in the period.

Langhorne scored Newton’s first eight points of the quarter on a pair of layups and a short jumper, giving Newton its first lead of the game with 5:16 left in the quarter.

Langhorne’s offensive outburst was part of a 15-4 run for the Lady Rams during the quarter that ended with Newton carrying a 41-37 advantage into the final period of play.

“Cynteria Langhorne did an amazing job on the boards,” Johnson said. “She took total command during the third quarter and she was a major reason why we were able to come back and maintain our lead.”

Newton pushed its lead to double digits with six minutes to go on a Deandra Reed layup. Reed scoring seven points in the final period of play after sitting out the first half, connecting on a 3-pointer with 3:27 left in the game to extend Newton’s lead to 51-38.

Newton and Rockdale traded baskets to close the contest, with Newton clinching the contest with late baskets from Reed and Mercedes Booker, as Rockdale was unable to mount a comeback effort, turning the ball over 13

times in the final eight minutes of action.

“I thought we got out hustled,” Rockdale coach Gladys King said. “I thought we had more unforced errors and we can’t commit those against Newton. We didn’t block out, we gave up too many second chance shots and we had too many mental errors tonight. Our hustle hurt us tonight, period.”

Rockdale jumped out to a 12-6 lead to start he contest behind six first-quarter points from Brianna Patton.

Rockdale went 6-of-10 from the foul-line during the quarter, as Newton turned the ball over nine times while connecting on two field goals in the opening quarter.

Sydney Fields helped the Lady Bulldogs maintain their slim lead over Newton in the second, scoring a quarter-high eight points in the second, but Newton trimmed the lead to four heading into the break before claiming the lead in the third quarter.

Patton finished as the Lady Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 16 points, while Fields finished with eight points and six rebounds.

Price joined Langhorne in double figures with 10 points, while Langhorne finished with a team-high eight rebounds.

Johnson said that Price and Reed not starting was a message she hoped her players took to heart.

“It was a wakeup call,” Johnson said. “I want five people on the floor who are ready to go from the start of the game.”

Newton returns to action Saturday at home against rival Eastside, while the Lady Bulldogs take the court Friday night on the road against Alcovy.

Game time against the Lady Tigers is set for 7 p.m.