The Newton Lady Rams jumped out of the gates early, then flexed their defensive muscles midway through the third quarter while coasting to a 74-41 home win over the Whitefield Academy Wolfpack.
Newton pushed past an impressive performance from Whitefield junior Lauren Vanarsdale, who scored 21 of her team’s 24 first half points, and all but four of the Lady Wolfpack’s total scoring output, for the win, using a dominant third quarter defensive stretch where Whitfield’s only field goal came with 5.6 seconds left.
The Rams benefited from Janelle Cook and Je-Naya Smith who had 14 points apiece, while Lexii Chatman chipped in with 11, many of which were scored in the second half in transition, as a result of solid defense.
Whitefield kept up a good fight through most of the first quarter and the first half of the second quarter. In fact, it was Lauren Vanarsdale’s long three-pointer and Logan Vanarsdale’s subsequent two-point bucket that cut Newton’s lead to 21-14 at the 5:32 mark in the second quarter.
But that would be the last time the game would be competitive.
Erianna Card scored on a layup, followed by Cook hitting one of two free throws and then following up with a jumper of her own to spark an 18-2 run toward the end of the quarter that helped Newton to a 44-24 halftime lead. Newton was able to build on the lead by limiting Lauren Vanarsdale to just 13 points in the second half.
“(Lauren Vanarsdale) was having a great game,” said Newton coach Tiffani Johnson. It was definitely a concerted effort on our part to try and shut her down. We didn’t always do a good job of it, but we made some good plays in transition, and that allowed us to expand a pretty comfortable lead down the stretch.”
The defensive intensity picked up as the Rams held Whitefield to just six points and one field goal for the entire quarter. And that field goal, scored by Lauren Vanarsdale, didn’t come until the 5.6 second mark of the third quarter.
The Lady Rams raised their record to 9-1 on the season as Johnson prepares to take her team on the road to the BallN Prep Powher Tournament next Tuesday through Thursday in Birmingham, Ala.
Johnson said it would be a golden opportunity for her girls to get another look at some stiff competition as the meat of the region schedule begins after Christmas and New Year’s Day.
“I try to get them exposed and let them go to different places,” she said. “This will be a good way for our juniors and seniors to get some good looks from college recruiters.”