COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton High School’s gymnasium was rocking all night long with South Gwinnett coming to town. The crowd cheering for both sides was loud all night long.
Newton fans, however, became a little louder as the Rams pulled away in both the girls and boys games.
The Lady Rams rolled to a 54-31 victory with the Rams closing the night downing South Gwinnett 71-54.
Rams 71, Comets 54
On paper, this matchup was going to be tight. Newton came in at 15-3 while South Gwinnett was 15-5 coming into the contest.
The action lived up to the hype, too.
Tied at 36 apiece 16 minutes into the game, there were some intense moments in the second half. The difference was, though, the Rams provided themselves a cushion courtesy of Marquavious Brown.
Nearing the four-minute mark of the final quarter, Brown found himself alone on back-to-back fast breaks finishing them both off with electrifying dunks.
Newton's faithful caused the gymnasium to explode as the UGA commit gave his team a 56-43 advantage.
Head coach Charlemagne Gibbons recognized how difficult it was for his team to pull away down the stretch.
“We knew it was going to be a fight,” Gibbons said. “And [South Gwinnett] made it an ugly game to their credit. I told our guys that, over a 32-minute period, we’re going to have opportunities. When we get those opportunities, can we create and explode? And I think we did that tonight.”
Following Brown’s dunks, the Rams dominated the Comets in the closing minutes of the game to earn a 17-point win.
Stephon Castle was the leading scorer Tuesday tallying 22 points while Brown had 17 and Jakai Newton recorded 13. Off the bench, Marcus Whitlock contributed nine points.
The Rams, who now stand at 16-3 overall with a flawless 3-0 record in Region 4-AAAAAAA, will now face Grayson at home on Friday, Jan. 28. That matchup will begin the final five games of the regular season for Newton, too.
For Gibbons, though, he wants to see an increased focus from each of his players.
“We don’t think we’ve hit the keys where everybody at the same time is at the height of their game,” Gibbons said. “I think that’s when we’re going to be the most dangerous.”
Lady Rams 54, Lady Comets 31
In their 23-point triumph, the Lady Rams separated themselves from the Lady Comets coming out of halftime.
Leading by 12 at intermission, Newton outscored South Gwinnett 16-3 in the third quarter to give itself a 43-18 advantage.
At that point in the contest, the Lady Rams had the win fully in their grasp despite the Lady Comets winning the fourth quarter 13-11.
The Lady Rams mainly got separation by their defensive strategy.
Whether it was forcing a bad pass by South Gwinnett or getting a steal, Newton was assisted by easy, fast-break buckets to build their lead. That same defense also stopped the Lady Comets from getting anything going consistently on offense, too.
Afterward, though, head coach Tiffani Johnson stressed how she’d like to see her team come out at the very beginning of the game more aggressive.
“If there is a switch, we’d like to turn it on in the first quarter,” Johnson said. “I think it just takes us a while to catch the flow of the game. Against different teams, that could cost us. I hope that isn’t our MO moving forward depending on the last 16 minutes of the game to get it done.”
Ashleigh Norris, the senior guard for the Lady Rams, led the team with 22 points. Newton’s next highest scorer was Tre’Miyah Berry with 11.
Overall, it was a team effort by the Lady Rams to earn this region win. Johnson stressed how seeing her team play together will be the key to their success on the home stretch of the regular season.
Johnson highlighted how important it is to receive contributions from every member of this year’s squad.
“It’s true that we need everyone out there,” Johnson said. “When everyone is contributing, it makes us tougher to guard. [Opponents] can’t just focus on one player or have an easy scheme when we’re all bringing our best to the table.”
With the win, Newton improves to 5-11 overall and is above .500 in Region 4-AAAAAAA with a 2-1 region record. Tuesday’s win also snapped a three-game losing streak for the Lady Rams.