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PREP BASKETBALL: Lady Rams drop heartbreaker in region tournament semis
Newton Girls Basketball
Newton High School senior Tijunna Freeman was overcome with emotion after the Lady Rams suffered a heartbreaking loss to Archer in the semifinal round of the Region 8-AAAAAAA tournament at Shiloh High School on Friday. - photo by Mason Wittner

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — For the second time in the span of a week, the Newton High School girls’ basketball team suffered a gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of Archer High School.

The first loss came in the Lady Rams’ regular-season finale on Jan. 31, when the Lady Tigers eked out a 50-46 decision on their home court to celebrate Senior Night in triumphant fashion. The two clubs met once again Friday night and produced a similar result in the semifinal round of the Region 8-AAAAAA tournament at Shiloh High School.

Despite using a late rally to erase a six-point deficit inside the final three minutes of regulation, No. 3 Newton ultimately faltered in the game's waning moments in a 40-37 loss to second-seeded Archer. The Lady Tigers punched their ticket to the region championship game with the victory, while the Lady Rams were bounced to the consolation bracket to battle for the No. 3 seed in the state tournament.

“There were a lot of things that we didn’t pull to win out,” Newton head coach Tiffani Johnson said. “Defensive execution, some loose balls, we were 7-for-17 from the free-throw line. I probably missed a couple decisions coaching-wise that I should’ve made. But that one hurt.”

Newton will return to the hardwood on Monday, Feb. 10, to play top-seeded Grayson in a consolation game. The Grayson Lady Rams were relegated to the consolation bracket Friday night when they were knocked off by No. 4 Rockdale County in the region tournament’s other semifinal contest.

Having already locked up a spot in the big dance, Newton isn’t going to be undervaluing the importance of its final tune-up game prior to the state tournament.

“We’re just taking everything one game at a time,” Johnson said. “We’ll try to win that one [against Grayson,] and then we’ll focus on the next.”

Monday’s game is scheduled to tip at 3 p.m.