If Kayla Smith had a shot it would probably just show 10 makes around the basket and a few misses here and there. In the paint is where Smith scored all 20 of her points in Newton’s (15-3, 5-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) 70-45 win over county rival Alcovy (11-7, 2-4 Region 2-AAAAAA).
“She has had a great year,” Tiffani Johnson, Newton head coach, said. “She had a quiet 20 today. If you weren’t paying attention you wouldn’t know that she had 20. She’s just one of those players that does everything that’s asked. She has done a great job of running the floor and finishing those buckets this year. She’s really stepped up big time and I’m proud of what she’s doing.”
Smith went coast-to-coast after Alcovy’s second straight turnover to begin the game and puts in Newton’s first score. Both teams came out in zone but Newton’s seemed most effective. Smith scored on Alcovy’s third turnover of the game – an entry pass by Quantasia Perry – for a 4-2 lead.
The Lady Rams went from zone to press and got to the line to take a 5-2 lead before Tierra Hodges beat the press and found Nydica Tate for an open jumper in a three-on-two opportunity.
“We like to get in that (press) just to get our energy going, get some intensity going and get us focused at the beginning of the game,” Johnson said. “We hope it creates some turnovers. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s what we like to do to just get us going.”
The press worked wonders for Newton, leading to numerous fast break opportunities and easy points at the rim.
After Newton was able to extend its lead to 12-6, Patrice Hall went 1-2 at the line to bring the Lady Tigers within five. The Lady Rams would score five points in the final 30 seconds, a layup by Smith coming off a nice no-look pass from Imani Broadnax and a three in transition by Alexcia Chatman giving Newton a 17-7 lead after the first.
Newton started the second quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 22-7 lead but it was ended on a layup from Hall, who was fouled but couldn't hit the free throw.
Alcovy wasn't able to get into a rhythm because they consistently turned the ball over leading to a 31-9 lead for Newton at the 4:30 mark of the second quarter. When the Lady Tigers weren't turning the ball over, which was usually the case, they weren't able to create good looks against Newton’s zone defense due to a lack of capable shooters.
Alcovy’s leading scorer, Hodges was finally able to get the ball in a one-on-one situation in the paint and turned it into an and-one to bring Alcovy within 15.
Newton took control again and held a 39-20 lead at halftime. Smith was a terror on the offensive end. She had 18 of her 20 points at halftime.
The second half was much of the same, at the 3:06 mark of the third the Lady Tigers trailed 51-28. The Lady Rams carried a 54-30 lead into the fourth quarter after Broadnax drained a three to beat the buzzer.
Hodges and co. did their best to make a comeback but their efforts fell short. Chatman added 19 to go with Smith's 20 and Hodges scored 22 for Alcovy going 8-9 at the charity stripe.
After Saturday’s game against North Oconee, the Lady Rams will be off until they face Tucker at home on Friday 6 p.m. The Lady Tigers will play Lovejoy at home next Friday beginning at 6 p.m.