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PREP BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: County teams find varying levels of week one success
Tiffani Johnson
Newton girls coach Tiffani Johnson is pleased with the balance her team has shown early on. - photo by Gabriel Stovall | The Covington News

If this past weekend and week has been any indication, it could be a special basketball season for our Newton County hoops squads.

Not only did Class AAAAAAA No. 5 Newton boys get off to a hot start in two lopsided wins over ranked opponents, the Lady Rams took care of business this past weekend also, starting with an impressive 67-58 win against a talented Henry County squad which featured high-scoring guard Brooke Moore.

The Lady Rams staved off a 25-point performance from the junior to hold on for a nine point win in a game where Newton never trailed.

For Lady Rams were in double figures, led by freshman Je-nya Smith’s 19 points and senior Lexii Chapman who had 17. Junior Rachel Hilliard and senior Janelle Cook pitched in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Newton then ran past Southwest Atlanta Christian 66-33.

It’s the kind of effort that Newton girls coach Tiffani Johnson expects and needs from her team going forward.

“We’ve got to have those kind of efforts from all of our girls,” Johnson said, noting that she was particularly pleased with Smith’s performance as a freshman.

Newton will get two more tune-ups: Tuesday against Heritage-Newnan and Friday December 2 at Eastside.



Eastside boys coach Brent Wren knows it’s early. But after a 3-0 start to the season, he said he can’t help but to like what he sees but still wants to raise the bar.

“We’ve got a lot more growth to go,” he said. “We’re still working on some things defensively. But I love their heart and I love their effort. We don’t have an issue scoring the ball, but it’s what we want to defensively that’s going to propel us into the rest of the season.”

The Eagles are averaging a margin of victory of 30 points per game in its three lopsided wins over Alcovy, Fulton Leadership Academy and Washington. The latter two games took place at the L.C. Baker Thanksgiving Classic which was hosted by Washington.

Senior Keiodre Perry is averaging close to 25 points per game during the stretch, while 6-foot-3 senior Dez Dyer is putting in 11 points and seven rebounds a game.

“Dez, he’s so underrated, it’s crazy,” Perry said. “He’s so good. I think he’s really one of the best players in this county. I love playing with him.”

After practicing Monday and Tuesday, Wren said he’ll give his team the Thanksgiving holiday off and resume practices Monday morning in preparation to host the rivalry showdown with Newton next Friday.

Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles have struggled a bit to an 0-3 start, playing the same schools as the boys. But signs of promise could be seen in Eastside’s 47-43 loss to Washington last Saturday on the girls’ side of the L.C. Baker Classic.

Eastside led 8-7 at the end of the first quarter of that game, were tied at 20 at the break, and led 30-29 going into the fourth quarter before succumbing to an 18-point fourth quarter spurt .

As for Alcovy, both boys and girls programs saw progress last weekend and during the week. The boys’ squad upped its record to 4-2 after a 63-51 win over Spalding this past Saturday, and a pair of wins – 77-67 against Monroe Area and 79-62 over Luella – this week before Thanksgiving.  The win total already matches that of last season, and the 4-2 mark is the Tigers’ best start through six games since the 2011-12 Elite Eight squad started out 5-1.

Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers’ sit at 2-1 after sandwiching a 60-34  Saturday loss to Calhoun at the Rome High School Thanksgiving Tourney with a 40-31 win at Eastside and a 31-30 win against Monroe Area. On Saturday, coach Justin Hunter will take his team to Carrollton’s Girls Night Out showcase where they’ll take on Creekside.

Defense has been the Lady Tigers’ calling card, as they’ve surrendered just 38 points per game through the first four games, if you add the 40-31 scrimmage win over Lamar County into the mix.