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Newton wins thriller in OT
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The Region 2-AAAAAA basketball playoffs are still more than a week away, but don’t tell that to the Rockdale or Newton hoops teams.

The two took to the court at Newton Friday night in game that will be hard-pressed to be surpassed by any the playoffs can come up with.

Newton (15-5, 7-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) moved up to the second seed in the playoffs thanks to a 75-69 overtime win after the Lady Rams trailed by as many as five points with less than two minutes to play.

Down 61-56, the Lady Rams’ applied-pressure defense and penetrated the Lady Bulldogs’ man-to-man defense for a 9-0 run to go ahead 65-61 on Sonia Forney’s free throw with 28.5 seconds left.

After Rockdale (12-8, 6-3) hit a long jumper to pull within two, Deandre Reed went to the free-throw line for Newton and connected on a foul shot with 20.2 seconds to go. Rockdale then ran through its offense, finding Bianca Riley who heaved up a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Riley’s long-range shot banked off the backboard and fell in to tie the game at 66-66 with 2.5 seconds remaining.

Shortly into the extra session, Riley and Newton’s Precious Price got into a brief scuffle resulting in a double technical foul. On the ensuing possession, Rockdale’s Jonai Jackson hit a free throw to put the Lady Bulldogs ahead 67-66.
However, from there, Newton scored six straight, four each by Forney and Cynteria Langhorne, who ended the streak on a fast break after a missed basket by Rockdale with 1:50 remaining.

Rockdale ended the bleeding with a score by by Brianna Patton, but couldn’t get any closer. Mercedes Booker then made three consecutive free throws for the final result.

“We just finally put the game plan in action and the players did what we asked them to do and it worked for us,” Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said. “It got us out of that rut we were in for three games.”

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak by Newton, which fell to Alcovy on Jan. 25, before losing at Luella on Tuesday. It also marked the first loss in three games for Rockdale, coming off a 56-28 victory over Druid Hills on Jan. 25.

“It was a big win, which was good for momentum taking us into the end of the season and into the region tournament,” Johnson said.

The Lady Rams were able to not only overcome a slow start, but also the strong play of Breanna Richardson. Richardson scored 15 of her 20 points in the first half, and had her game shortened when she fouled out on an offensive charge with 2:09 to play in regulation.

“The defense stepped up,” Johnson said. “It changed the game when (Richardson) went out.”
Newton had four players in double figures with Price, Forney and Langhorne scoring 16 points each and Reed chipping in 14.

Newton plays at Morrow Tuesday before hosting Druid Hills for the final regular season game Friday.
Rockdale travels to first-place Alcovy Tuesday.