SNELLEVILLE, Ga. -- The seventh-ranked Newton Rams (12-3, 3-1) relied on the scoring strength of a few as it took down the Shiloh Generals (11-6, 2-2) by a score of 63-54 Tuesday night in a meaningful Region 8-AAAAAAA game that came down to the last three minutes of play.
For some, it could be hard to believe that the Rams pulled off the victory having only four players register points for the duration of the game. Tre Clark was the shining light for the Rams as he led his team in scoring in every quarter but the final, en route to finishing his night with a game-high 26 points while also going 11-of-12 from the free throw line.
It was fellow senior guard, Tyrease Brown who led the scoring for the Rams in the pivotal final quarter. A 3-pointer from Brown with 2:14 left to play in the game gave the Rams a four-point lead, and they would not look back.
The performance left Rams head coach Rick Rasmussen pleased with the fight of his team, particularly down the stretch.
“Well, we finished really well,” Rasmussen said. “The last two minutes I thought we owned, and I was real proud of that. We thought it would be about who wants it more, and I thought we did down the stretch, so I was real proud of that.”
Brown started slow but ended his night in double digits, finishing with 12 points and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
Clark helped Newton build upon the four-point advantage Brown’s trey provided when he followed that basket by recovering a steal and driving to the hole for a layup that would give the Rams a 58-52 lead with two minutes left in the fourth.
It would be free throws from that point out for the Rams as they coasted to their third straight victory — a win that set Newton in sole possession of second place in the region standings behind Class AAAAAAA No. 2 Grayson.
The Rams started off slow as the Generals went on a 9-2 run through the first 3:22 of play and heavily relied on the play of their 6-foot-6 big man Kendall Lewis, who accounted for half of the Generals points in the first quarter.
The Rams struggled to get shots to fall, and early on they relied heavily on their work at the free throw line as 11 of their 19 first half points came by way of free throw. Their consistency at the free throw line kept them in the game, despite their offensive struggles.
If there was a single bright spot from the Rams in the first half, it had to be Clark who finished the opening quarter with 10 points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.
Newton came out of the halftime break trailing by four, but whatever was said at halftime by coach Rasmussen seemed to work as they went on a 12-6 run through the first three minutes of play.
The Rams attacked the Generals with a barrage of threes from Mike Mathison, Brown and Tre Clark. The Rams’ ability to shoot the three kept them in the game and was a strong answer for the Generals stout inside attack.
The back and forth affair between the Generals and Rams would see the game head into the fourth with the Rams trailing by one.
The free throw line would yet again be a story line in this game, as a blocking foul on the Generals’ Antonio Meeks would send Clark to the line. However, this foul would lead to a skirmish, and Meeks would be called for a technical foul as well with 6:07 to play.
Clark would hit all four free throws and recover the basketball on a steal and drive to the basket for a layup that gave Newton the lead for the first time since the first quarter. The game would swing back and forth until the final minutes of play where the Rams took over.
Rasmussen called it “a great team effort” by the team as a whole. In addition to Clark and Brown’s scoring, Harris finished with 16 points while Mathison chipped in with nine.
Darius Garcia led Shiloh with 20.
Newton’s next region test will come Friday at Archer (10-8, 1-3) before renewing acquaintances with in-county rival Eastside Saturday at home.