COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton welcomed a familiar adversary to town Tuesday night for its basketball home opener.
The girls’ and boys’ basketball teams tipped off their respective home slates against Archer, which had resided in their region before the GHSA realignment this past offseason.
The programs split the matchups, with Archer earning a victory in the girls’ game and Newton collecting a win in the boys’ contest.
Archer Lady Tigers 49, Newton Lady Rams 41
The visiting Lady Tigers jumped out to a 9-3 lead midway through the opening quarter. However, Newton came storming back and closed out the period on a 8-0 run to slip into the second quarter clinging to an 11-9 advantage.
The teams would trade blows for the remainder of the first half, but Newton once again pulled ahead late. A 3-point jumper with less than five seconds remaining sent the Lady Rams into locker room leading 25-22.
Archer sophomore Taniya McGowan took over the game in the third quarter, scoring six of the Lady Tigers’ 15 unanswered points and facilitating the ball to help engineer a 37-25 advantage.
Newton made a late push to trim its deficit to single digits, but was ultimately unable to overcome Archer’s second-half surge.
Newton Rams 65, Archer Tigers 47
Led by a 24-point performance from junior shooting guard T.J. Clark, the Rams poured it on the Tigers in the second half to run away with a victory.
After ending the first quarter knotted up at 16 points apiece, Newton ended the first half holding on to a 27-24 advantage.
That’s when head coach Charlemagne Gibbons decided it was time to shift his lineup around.
“Guys who aren’t going to play hard here and play together, they’re going to sit on the bench,” Gibbons said. “I don’t care who they are. I don’t care how great they can be. If you aren’t going to be great as a teammate, if you aren’t going to be great as a player on the court, you will sit on the bench.
“I thought you saw [Tuesday] that we didn’t have the right combination early, but we brought some guys off the bench and they played their tails off. I was excited because weren’t just leaning on two or three guys; we had more contributions off the bench.”
The result was a lopsided third quarter in which the Rams outscored Archer 19-3 to break the game wide open.
The Tigers pulled as close as 52-42 in the fourth quarter, but Newton clamped down and held on for the 18-point win.
The Lady Rams (1-2) and Rams (2-3) will be back on their home court this Friday when they play host to Rockdale County.