COVINGTON, Ga. - With little less than three minutes remaining in the game, a three-pointer from Archer guard CJ Hines was the dagger that capped off a victory for the Tigers.
The Newton Rams felt the pressure all throughout Friday night’s showdown against a stingy Archer Tigers defense as the Rams fell 65-57 at home.
With both teams balancing a controlled game, the Tigers broke the 28-28 tie and edged into halftime with a 38-31 lead. The Tigers sprinted into a 10-3 run as senior forward Brent Smith contributed six of the Tigers points.
The leadership from the pair of Rams senior guards Shawn Smith and Caleb Byrd was on display as the duo fought to keep the team alive.
During his team-leading 23 points, Byrd knew he had to keep his team motivated to keep pushing.
“We knew how to push through adversity,” Byrd said. “At halftime, I told them it wasn’t over… we have to come out with more fire and keep picking each other up.”
A pair of mid-range jump shots from Shawn Smith and consistent free-throw shooting down the stretch from Byrd provided momentum to keep the team afloat.
Despite the pair of senior's continuous fight throughout the game, the Tigers were too much to handle, especially in the post.
Archer’s Brent Smith dominated the paint recording a game-high 24 points. The forward came up big for the Tigers to extend their lead late in the game with eight crucial points in the fourth quarter. Following a Tigers timeout, Brent Smith hit a layup from the left side of the paint to extend the lead to a three-possession game putting the game out of reach for the Rams.
The win for the Archer Tigers (14-5, 3-2 Region 8AAAAAAA) solidifies the third-place spot in the region standings and gets the team closer to the state playoffs. The team’s next game will come on Tuesday night against Shiloh.
As for the Newton Rams (13-5, 3-2 Region 8AAAAAAA), the loss places them as the fourth-place team in the region due to now losing the tiebreaker against Archer.
As for Rams head coach Charlemagne Gibbons, he won’t be dwelling on this game for too long. It’s a ‘forget about this game’ mentality for the Rams as coach Gibbons put it simply on what he believes is the main positive from the night’s game.
“We got to work on ourselves and pull closer together,” said coach Gibbons. “You saw a disjointed team out there tonight, but the point is that it wasn’t the last game of the season. We play again on Tuesday.”