SNELLVILLE, Ga. — An outstanding performance from the Newton High School defense paved the way as the Lady Rams won game one of the Region 8-AAAAAAA tournament against the South Gwinnett Lady Comets at Shiloh High School on Wednesday.
The 52-19 victory punched their ticket to the Class AAAAAAA state tournament later this month.
Going into the region tournament as the three seed, the Lady Rams had their work cut out for them as they would first have to go through No. 6 South Gwinnett, a team they beat twice during the regular season.
Despite a few missed layups in the opening minutes, it was clear that the Lady Rams were in control right from the start of the game.
“Everyone was focused on the game today,” head coach Tiffani Johnson said. “From the bench, to the five on the court, they were all cheering for each other.”
Throughout the first two quarters, everyone on the Lady Rams’ starting five, as well as players off the bench, were getting involved. The ball movement and pressure on the boards created opportunities for Newton that South Gwinnett could not match.
Senior Ashanti Wright led the team in scoring in the first half while also collecting the majority of the rebounds for the team.
Going into halftime, the scoreboard showed how strong the Lady Rams were on both sides of the ball, as they went into the break leading 26-9.
“I think it was our intensity [that helped us defensively],” Johnson said. “We were locked in and we started communicating better on the floor, we were able to play defense as a team and not selfishly.”
Even after coming into the first half strong, the Lady Rams would get even better as the game progressed through the third quarter and into fourth.
The defense continued to shut down the Lady Comets’ offense, allowing six points in the third quarter then allowing even less with four points in the final quarter.
Keeping South Gwinnett off the scoreboard gave the offense the opportunity to ride the lead all the way through regulation, defeating the Lady Comets by 33 points.
Sophomore Ashleigh Norris led the Lady Rams offensively, turning in a solid performance with 14 points to accompany 12 points from Wright.
“It is great that we [got the win] and are guaranteed three more games,” Johnson said. “I loved the energy and the teamwork we came out with tonight.”
After capturing the first win in the tournament, Johnson knows that in order for the Lady Rams to get more in the win column they must carry their energy over from game to game.
“We got to keep that energy level,” Johnson said. “It cannot just be something we do one time, it has to be who we are and what we do. That is going to be our focus during the whole 32 minutes.”
After the good-looking victory over South Gwinnett, the Lady Rams look forward to later in the week as they are set to take on the second-seeded Archer Tigers on Friday, Feb. 7.