LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — It was bounce-back day for the No. 8 Newton boys basketball team as it used big games from seniors Armani Harris and Tyrease Brown to knock off Peachtree Ridge, 61-54 at Archer High School on Saturday, breaking Peachtree’s four-game win streak, while snapping their own two-game skid.
Harris and Brown starred with Harris leading his team scoring 19 points, and Brown chipping in with 18 points including four 3-pointers.
While the team celebrated a much-needed win against a solid Class AAAAAAA opponent, Rams head coach Rick Rasmussen said he’s still finding things that his squad needs to improve on.
“We are trying to work on executing better in key situations,” Rasmussen said. “We had some ill-advised shots where we had the momentum and should have stayed patient.”
Newton (6-2, 1-1 in Region 8-AAAAAAA) was looking for a win to help bring some salve to the disappointment of surrendering a double-digit lead in Tuesday’s overtime loss against region foe, No. 7 Grayson. Newton wasn’t in for an easy win, however, as it would come up against a resilient Peachtree Ridge (8-3, 4-0) squad.
As the game started Newton took an early lead with Harris scoring 10 of his 19 points in the first quarter. Along with the help of Brown’s six points from beyond the arc, Newton ended the opening period leading 20-9.
The Newton onslaught continued into the second quarter as Newton opened it with a 10-2 run in the first four minutes which aided the Rams building a commanding 35-18 advantage going into halftime.
Peachtree Ridge wouldn’t go quietly though, as the Lions scored more in the third quarter alone (20) than they did the entire first half. Newton did just enough to hold off Peachtree Ridge as it stayed in front, 48-38, going into the final quarter of action.
The Lions ratcheted up the pressure and cut things to a three-point deficit late in regulation. But Newton’s ability to take care of business at the free throw line helped it salt away the seven point victory.
After it was done, Rasmussen credited both the Lions on fighting back and his own squad for displaying the mental toughness needed to close the game out.
“I got to give (Peachtree Ridge) a lot of credit,” Rasmussen said. “They came back and fought hard. But, it was good to get a win over a really good 7A team.”
The Rams were also grateful to have junior point guard, Shawn Smith back in the lineup Saturday. Smith left the Grayson game early in the fourth quarter after going down hard after a foul. He was checked by medical staff and had a lighter week of practice, but performed well in stretches against Peachtree Ridge, especially early when he knocked down a 3-pointer that helped spur the Rams’ early momentum.
Newton won’t play again until Friday and Saturday when it will travel to cross-county rivals, Alcovy and Eastside respectively. Newton defeated Alcovy (1-4), 69-48 in its own gym back on November 30. The Tigers also fell Saturday night to Eastside (7-4), 64-57.