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Rams rolling after road wins
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After four straight losses, Newton is back on the winning track.

It's been a road winning streak for the Rams, which after beating Druid Hills 45-43 in overtime picked up another overtime win on Tuesday, beating Lovejoy 57-53.

Newton re-emphasized the parity of Region 2-AAAAAA by going from a 1-4 team in the bottom of the standings to a 3-4 squad ready to group themselves with the top tier.

One of those top tier teams had been Lovejoy, which defeated Alcovy by 31 points, 69-38, on Jan. 4, but the Wildcats had since suffered two losses, at Luella and versus Newton.

The Rams trailed by nine points with 5:55 left in the fourth quarter before coming back to tie it, in part because of their free-throw shooting. The Rams went 13 of 14 from the line in the fourth quarter and overtime combined, after shooting just 3 for 8 in the first half.

Newton made all of its free throws in overtime, scoring 11 points in the game's final four minutes.

"We kind of controlled the overtime," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "In overtime, we kept making free throws and made good shots, taking it inside and getting fouled."

The Rams struggled offensively in its losing streak, shooting poorly from the free-throw line and not having any one step up as an offensive spark plug.

However, in their last two games, that has changed.

In a win over Druid Hills, Rody Mitchell scored 19 Tuesday, and Newton got another career-high performance Friday with 18 points from Kishon Rogers. Rogers began the year out as a starter, but was removed from the first five as Rasmussen looked to get things going.

After a solid practice Thursday, Rogers, one of Newton's three captains, was returned to the lineup on a hunch by the coaching staff.

That hunch paid off, and Rogers and his fellow captains stepped up.

Rashard Cabane scored 13 points and had four charges and Jalen Glover had 11 points with a strong first quarter.

"It was big for us," Rasmussen said. "I feel like we're turning it around. I feel like we've shown a lot of heart and I feel like we've come together a little."

With five of Newton's remaining six games left in the 2012-13 regular season being Region 2-AAAAAA affairs it's a good time for the Rams to come together. All seven teams qualify for the region tournament, with the top seed getting a bye to the semifinals and the state playoffs. Each of the seven region teams have at least one loss with one-win Druid Hills routing Alcovy Friday night after Alcovy defeated previously unbeaten Luella Tuesday.
"The region tournament is going to be a crapshoot," Rasmussen said.

"That thing is going to be wild. Region 2-AAAAAA is a basketball region; that's the main sport of the region as far as state prowess. It's deep; there are really no weak teams. Anything can happen on every night."

Newton will try to improve its seeding beginning Friday when it hosts Alcovy, after winning two straight on the road.

"Winning two region road games, both in overtime, shows we have heart and never quit," Rasmussen said. "I'm most proud of that."