One team committed 11 first-half turnovers, another scored just five points in the third quarter, but in a rivalry none of that seemed to matter late in the game Friday night.
Despite almost blowing a one-time 14-point lead, Newton bent but never broke in a furious finish to beat Alcovy, with a final score of 46-42, in a packed Newton High gym.
Trailing 43-40 Alcovy (6-14, 2-7 Region 2-AAAAAA) got two of Tiquan Lewis’ nine fourth-quarter points, a turnover from Newton’s D.J. Hill and a tip-in bucket from Jovon Rosse to make it a one point game.
Newton (13-7, 4-4) missed its first chance to hold on to its lead as the Rams missed two free throws on an intentional foul penalty by the Tigers. However, Newton drew another foul with 20 seconds left and Kishon Rogers made one of his two shots to pull the Rams ahead 44-42.
With time trickling down, Alcovy ran a play along the left side, spotting up for an open 3-pointer but was called for traveling and had to foul the Rams quickly after they inbounded the ball with 3.6 seconds left. Jalen Glover sealed Newton’s third straight victory with two free throws.
“Anything can happen in a game where emotions are involved; everybody wants to win and nobody wants to die,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said.
“Everybody gets after it. I thought it was a good, hard-fought game.”
The game not only ended hotly contested, but was also a tight one early with Alcovy taking a 9-8 lead after one quarter of play.
After the Rams fell behind 11-10, their defensive pressure stymied the Tigers, as Newton scored 12 straight.
The Rams hit two 3 pointers — one each by Jalen Glover and Rody Mitchell — and made both of their foul shot attempts during the stretch.
Alcovy broke the streak with a 3-pointer by Juwan Henderson, but that didn’t stop the Rams, which scored six more unanswered to go into halftime up 28-17. Newton was 10 of 20 from the field in the first half and made all but one of its six free throws.
While the Rams were in control in the first two quarters, nobody took over in the third set of eight minutes.
Alcovy outscored Newton 9-5 in the third quarter with five points from Shane Lawrence.
The Rams opened the quarter with two free throws by Hill but struggled to find anything offensively after that.
“We got away a little bit from what we wanted to do offensively,” Rasmussen said. “I thought we didn’t trust it as much as we should have. I thought we didn’t come out real sharp in the third quarter like we normally do.”
The two teams went back and forth to open the fourth quarter before five straight by Lewis cut into Newton’s lead.
However, every time Alcovy looked to take over, Newton came up with a steal or free throw to remain on top.
“I thought we did a good job, even though they made their run, we continued to keep the lead, which was crucial,” Rasmussen said.
“I thought we showed some grit to keep battling and keep the lead and make enough plays.”
The win, coupled with Rockdale’s win over Druid Hills, keeps Newton in fourth place with four region games remaining. Alcovy is at the bottom of the region with a big game at Lovejoy Tuesday.