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PREP BASKETBALL: Hot-shooting Rockdale holds off Lady Rams
Rachel Hilliard
Newton’s Rachel Hilliard (32) battles for a rebound with Rockdale’s Airen Turley during Friday night’s Region 8-AAAAAAA contest. Hilliard paced Newton with 10 points. -Photo by Anthony Banks

CONYERS, Ga. — The Newton Lady Rams fell just short in their 52-47 loss to the Rockdale County Lady Bulldogs Friday night, and if you’re looking for a game-changing point in Friday night’s Region 8-AAAAAAA contest, zoom into the second quarter.

The Bulldogs were absolutely lethal in the second quarter from deep as 15 of their 17 second quarter points came from beyond the arc. Getting outscored 17-5 in the second left Newton with too large of a gap to overcome, and the Bulldogs’ Shaquice May played a large role in forcing such a deficit. 

May hit five 3-pointers in the first half and scored 14 of her 19 points in the second quarter alone. May was held scoreless in the second half, but she did enough damage to keep the Lady Rams in check.

The Lady Rams once again owned the third quarter and played a much closer fourth, but first half struggles came back to bite them. Lady Rams Head coach Tiffani Johnson mentioned after her team’s last region game how she wanted to see the game plan executed for a full 32 minutes and not just 16 and that seemed to be the case again Friday.

“We had some big mental lapses and turnovers. I’m fine with effort,” said Johnson. “We just had some mental mistakes defensively in the first half and offensively in the second half that kept us from getting that lead.”

Some of the mental lapses that Johnson pointed to included being far too quiet on defense and some shakiness in the latter portion of the game.

Although the Lady Rams had some struggles, Rachel Hilliard had another strong game on the boards and was one of two Rams to reach double digits with 10 points.

“She did what we needed her to do for her run and that’s what we ask,” said Johnson. “We know she’s a force and can do it and when everyone is playing together and focused on it, we’re pretty good with it.”

Tijunna Freeman also finished with 10 points on the night and was met with cheers from fans and her teammates after fouling out late in the fourth quarter. 

This was a tough loss for the Lady Rams but Johnson said she is not wavering in the message for her team as the regular season winds down to a close.

“Keep focus,” she said. “The season is not over, and it’s not over until we get in that region tournament so we’re still focusing and taking everything in stride and getting ready for state playoffs.”

Newton fell to 8-15 overall and 2-5 in region play, although it still sits fourth in the standings ahead of Tuesday’s matchup with Shiloh. The Rams will close out region play on February 1 as Archer comes to Covington for the Lady Rams’ senior night.