Tucker has been a thorn in Newton’s side for the last year-plus and Newton was unable to rid itself of that thorn as both of last year’s Region 2-AAAAAA boys' and girls' basketball champions came out victorious at home. The formerly undefeated Lady Rams (7-1, 1-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) maintained a four-point lead after halftime, but fell to the Lady Tigers 72-60. The boys (5-2, 1-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) looked to be in control for 31 minutes, but in the 32nd, Tucker took the final lead and won 57-56.
The game started sloppy but Newton jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Lady Tigers answered with a 4-0 run of their own. Tucker’s full-court trap defense slowed Newton down and forced early turnovers, some of which were just mental mistakes by the Lady Rams.
The Lady Tigers had size in the interior which caused Newton problems on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense where Tucker corralled the offensive boards and score off misses against Newton’s zone defense.
The game got chippy and was tied 9-9 after the first. The Lady Tigers’ Bria Bass opened the second period with a three after two Tucker offensive rebounds. Janelle Cook responded by getting into the paint and scoring with the layup to bring Newton within one.
Tucker’s half-court defense was a zone and it allowed Cook to find Jurnee Smith for a wide open three to give Newton a 14-12 lead.
Imani Broadnax nailed a three from five feet beyond the arc with a defender in front of her to go up 19-16 midway through the second quarter. Back and forth the teams traded baskets as Tucker’s Mariya Trimble converted a three-point play to tie the game at 21 at the four-minute mark.
Tucker was able to get to the free throw line effectively, but neither team was able to get an edge. The game grew more intense as it progressed. You could cut the tension with a knife.
Kayana Henderson hit one of two free throws with three seconds left in the second quarter to give Newton a 34-30 lead at halftime.
Spearheaded by their tenacious defense, the Lady Rams started the second half on a 5-0 run until Bass converted an and-one to bring Tucker within six points.
An 11-2 run from Tucker that was capped off by a three-point play from Bass for her 19th point of the game gave the Lady Tigers a three-point lead with just more than two minutes to play in the third.
Tucker would take a two-point lead into the final period at 49-47. Tucker came out and extended the lead to six before Broadnax hit one of two free throws continuing Newton’s trouble at the line.
A three from Najila Shamsid-Deen put the Lady Tigers up 58-49. A 5-0 run capped off by another three from Shamsid-Deen put Tucker up 63-49 and forced a Lady Ram timeout with 4:58 to play.
Missed free throws plagued the Lady Rams all game and even more down the stretch as they finished the game 19-35 from the line including 11 missed free throws in the second half. Tucker’s defense shut down the paint and contested all threes from Newton in the fourth and held the Lady Fans to 13 fourth quarter points on their way to a 72-60 win.
The game started slow for the boys. Newton trailed 4-3 after two free throws from Ashton Hagans. The Tigers jumped out to an 8-3 lead before Hagans found Josh Tukes for an easy layup.
Rams’ leading scorer JD Notae started off cold but converted a breakaway layup to give Newton an 11-10 lead on the Rams’ way to taking a 13-12 lead after the first.
Hagans operated the pick and roll, got doubled and hit Chaz Tanner who hit a mid-range jumper with the foul but missed the free throw to begin the second quarter. The Rams like their female counterparts, struggled to hit free throws and it led to a 15-all tie in the second quarter before Tukes added a putback.
Notae traded 3s with Tucker’s Kenton Eskridge to tie the game at 21. Another Tukes putback gave Newton a 23-22 lead with under three minutes left in the half.
The Rams seemed out of rhythm in the first half. They missed some open shots and had some silly turnovers. Notae scored his 10th point of the half to put Newton up 26-25 going into the break.
Jaquan Simms scored his first bucket of the game off a pass from Notae plus the foul, but couldn't make the free throw to begin the half.
Donald Hartry hit a three to give Tucker a 32-28 lead before Notae weaved through traffic to bring the Rams within two. Hartry answered with another bucket and Notae answered him with a two of his own.
The third period was the Notae show as he answered a Tucker three with a step-back three to keep Newton within two.
Hagans hit a three of his own after crossing up a defender, following a play that saw Eskridge knock one down from deep, to make it 40-38 Tucker.
Notae tied it with a layup that would've been a three-point play had he knocked down the extra attempt from the charity stripe. On the following possession, Simms drained a three to give Newton a three-point lead, but Tyler Payne brought the Tigers within one before the final frame began.
Eskridge gave the Tigers a 53-52 lead on an open layup with a little over three minutes to play. A Rams steal and dunk by Hagans put Newton up 54-53 with 2:17 to play.
Down one with under one minute to play, Notae darted to his man and ripped the ball away and took it to the house for the easy layup giving Newton a 56-55 lead. Tucker took a timeout down one with 39.3 seconds remaining.
Hagans and supreme defender Marvin Boireau got confused on a switch and it led to a layup that was missed but got tipped in to give Tucker a 57-56 lead with 23 seconds left to play.
On a called play, Notae drove the lane with a defender hanging on him tightly and ran into another Tiger defender that was able to draw a charge and get Tucker the ball back up one with 12.5 seconds left.
Newton fouled and Tucker missed the one-and-one free throw and Newton got the ball up the court and Hagans gave it to Simms who missed a contested shot for the win. The Rams couldn't tip in the miss and Tucker reigned supreme.