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PREP BASKETBALL: Cold shooting helps Rockdale triumph over Lady Rams
Newton's Tijunna Freeman shoots over Rockdale defender Shaquice May in Friday night's Rockdale win. -photo by Anthony Banks

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton Lady Rams offense struggled substantially as they fell to the Rockdale Lady Bulldogs 42-39 in Region 8-AAAAAAA action Friday night..

Down by three with only seconds left to play, the Lady Rams ended the game with a half-court heave from Shamaya Turk that bounced off the top of the backboard before falling to the ground as the final buzzer sounded. 

Lady Rams Head coach Tiffani Johnson was satisfied with the effort of her team despite the loss, but wants to see better execution of the team’s game plan moving forward. 

“Pleased with effort, but if there’s not mental execution then it’s almost in vain,” Johnson said. “You have to do as told and execute the game plan, we may have been going 90 miles per hour, but it was in the wrong direction at times.” 

They had offensive struggles throughout the night, but the Lady Rams fought back making the game much closer at the end. Their opposition also fell cold in the final quarter but the Lady Rams' foul trouble ultimately helped Rockdale pull out the victory in the end. 

The Lady Bulldogs struggled to get a basket in the final quarter but finishing 11 for 22 at the foul line in the last frame ended up being enough to lead them over the Lady Rams.

Newton’s offensive inconsistencies started early on as it saw them go into the half with more turnovers (14) than points (9), contributing to a 17-9 halftime deficit.

Foul trouble was a problem early on in the contest for both teams as Lady Rams starter Ashanti Wright was quickly recalled to the bench after two quick fouls.

Although the Lady Rams entered the bonus and double bonus first, the Lady Bulldogs were more efficient at the charity stripe as their 6-for-10 shooting at the foul line bettered the Lady Rams’ 3-for-9 effort.

Overall it was a very sloppy game offensively by both sides, but this low-scoring affair is a testament to each team’s stout defensive play.

Although the Lady Rams had a problem with giving the ball away, they countered that problem with good transition defense and not allowing the Lady Bulldogs to get easy baskets on the fast break.

The Newton offense started to show a pulse as it more than doubled its first half total in the third quarter alone. Senior Rachel Hilliard got it going in the third with six points, and her play on the boards gave the Lady Rams multiple second-chance opportunities at the basket. 

Ashanti Wright started catching fire in the second half as well, hitting two big-time 3-pointers. Wright’s second three-pointer pulled the Lady Rams within 1 with 7:00 left to play in the fourth quarter.

Wright was the offensive star for the Lady Rams as she finished with 12 points even while being limited with foul trouble. Other players tried to pick up the slack with Wright off the court, but the lack of her presence was certainly felt. 

“It definitely impacted us and I think it got in her head a little, but that’s not an excuse,” said Johnson. “We had several opportunities to go ahead and do what we needed to do, but missed shots, rebounds and just not converting on offense cost us the game today.”

The Lady Rams (4-9, 1-2 in Region 8-AAAAAAA) will look to execute their game plan next on Tuesday January 8 against another region foe in Shiloh (3-9, 0-3).