MCDONOUGH, Ga. - It was a back and forth affair all night long, but the Newton Rams were able to pull away at the end and defeat the McDonough Warhawks 64-56 and extend their winning streak to five games.
With the Warhawks tying the game at 52-all with four minutes left in the contest, Rams senior guard Caleb Byrd would hit a clutch three to give his team the late lead. The Rams would not relinquish a lead for the final minutes of the ball game and would only build on their lead before finishing off their eight-point victory.
Byrd was the Rams second-leading scorer in the game as he scored 15 points with 10 of his points coming in the second half.
For the second straight game, the Rams leading scorer was sophomore guard T.J. Clark, who continues to emerge and show that he has similar play-making ability to his brother, Tre Clark, who currently stars at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
Newton's Clark finished the contest with 25 points and led his team in scoring in every quarter but the third. He was effective down the stretch for the Rams, and his play at the end of the ball game was crucial, as well, as he scored 10 points in the final quarter alone.
Clark was consistent throughout, even during the Rams slow start, which saw the team put up only nine points in the first quarter. Although, they did not reach double-digits in the first quarter, the Rams still only trailed the Warhawks by one point and took control of the game in the second quarter.
The Rams outscored the Warhawks 19-12 in the second quarter and would ride a 6-point lead heading into the halftime break. They continued their excellent stretch of play to start the third quarter, as they started the quarter on a 7-0 run, which prompted a timeout from the Warhawks.
The Warhawks would make the needed adjustments and storm back to cut the Rams lead to only a single point. Byrd and Shawn Smith, who finished with eight points, would make smart defensive plays to close out the quarter and help put the Rams up by three.
The fourth quarter would be tight but ultimately lead to the Rams emerging victorious yet again.
Since the Rams upset win of the state of Georgia's number one team, Grayson, they have been playing their best basketball and look to be a force to be reckoned with in AAAAAAA ball with their excellent guard play.
The Rams will look to extend their dominance of late against other strong inter-county foes the Alcovy Tigers, who they will play on Friday, Dec. 20, and the Eastside Eagles, who they will play the very next day on Saturday, Dec. 21.
The Tigers have struggled as of late, but have shown dynamic ability all season long, and their press defense is always a tough challenge. The Eagles are riding a nine-game winning streak and only have one loss on their record.
Wins over these two teams will not only give the Rams bragging rights over the county but should give the team some great momentum as they move closer to a substantial part of their region schedule.