COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton Rams were shockingly defeated in the final game of the NewRock Showcase against the Salem Seminoles in a 58-56 game that was just a basket away from overtime.
The Newton Rams were down by 15 points with around six minutes left to play and fought back to bring the game within the 2-point difference in the final score. The Rams went on a 21-6 run over the final six minutes and almost tied it up as the final shot of regulation saw the ball roll just out of the basket.
Coach Charlemagne Gibbons knows that this was a tough loss for his Rams squad but was pleased with his guys' ability to fight back and thinks this game should pay off for the Rams.
"I feel great about our basketball team because, with four minutes left, you thought we were dead in the water. Now we had a chance before the buzzer to force overtime. So I'm OK with that; we have to learn that's what this early season stuff is about, so I'm comfortable with tonight," said Gibbons. "You find out who you are. Winning by 30 points, you don't find out who you are, so we're trying to find out who we are, and it's all about the playoffs."
Gibbons believes this type of test that should help the Rams in the long run and that facing a team with this sort of skill set could help the Rams develop a game plan for the future against bigger teams.
"Well, this is the biggest team we've played, and they've got a solid basketball team, and they're big and physical, and we can't duplicate that in practice, so this was great for us," Gibbons said. "We just didn't shoot the ball well tonight, and that's just how it goes."
The Rams only had 16 points at the halftime break but turned it on in the second half to finish with 56. The Rams were led by strong performances from Shawn Smith and Caleb Byrd, who accounted for 38 of the team's 56 points.
Byrd struggled early on in the contest as he did not register a single point in the first half, but turned it on in the second half and finished as the team's leading scorer with 24 points. Smith scored 14 points and did an excellent job of facilitating most of the night.
The Rams have a long break in between now and their next game and won't be back in action until they face Wheeler at the Give Back Classic at Westlake High School on Friday, Nov. 29.