Taking to heart coach Tiffani Johnson’s admonishments about getting off to a fast start, the Newton Lady Rams jumped out to a 22-2 first-quarter lead and never looked back as they defeated the Morrow Lady Mustangs 69-38 at Morrow High School in a Region 2 AAAAAA battle.
“We’ve been working on coming out ready to play in the first quarter,” Johnson said. “I think we did a great job of jumping on them in the first quarter – defensively and offensively. I’m very pleased with how we started and finished the game. We played team basketball. Our communications were great, and that’s the team I want to see every night.”
With quick hands by their defense, balanced scoring and dominating the glass, the Lady Rams (6-3, 3-0 in region play) scored the first 12 points of the game. Senior point guard Precious Price hit two 3-point shots, and senior shooting guard Mercedes Booker added 6 before the Rams put in their second unit with 54 seconds left in the quarter.
Morrow scored six straight points to begin the second quarter. But Newton’s defense forced turnovers and hurried shots by the Mustangs (6-7, 1-2), and the Lady Rams took a 32-13 lead into the locker room at halftime.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, as the Lady Rams scored 22 points and doubled up the Mustangs 54-27 after three. Booker, who led all Newton scorers with 14 points, put up eight in the third, while Price scored five and finished with 11 points on the night. Senior forward Deandra Reed was the other Newton player to finish in double figures, with 10 points. In all, 11 Lady Rams scored at least one basket in the game. Morrow senior guard Ditara Pack a Flagler (Fla.) University signee, led all scorers with 17 points.
Even though Johnson substituted liberally in the fourth quarter, the Lady Mustangs just could not match the defensive intensity of the Lady Rams. Senior guard Shay Lawrence had several steals, and Newton never let Morrow settle into any sort of rhythm.
“Shay Lawrence is one of our defensive forces. She goes 90 miles an hour every game all day. And, Mercedes Booker did a terrific job on the boards today,” Johnson said. “She probably had six offensive rebounds alone. She’s a hustler when she’s on the floor. She did all the little things to help us win tonight. But, like I told them in the locker room, everyone did something to contribute to the win.”
Next up for the Lady Rams is a road game against the Woodland (Stockbridge) Wolfpack Saturday.