MVP Henry leads Rams to tournament title
Newton’s boys finished returned home with a tournament championship thanks to a 54-50 win over Cedar Shoals in the final of the inaugural Wingslinger Holiday Bash at East Jackson Thursday.
The Rams bounced back from the Alcovy last leading up to the holiday break with three consecutive wins.
Derrick Henry led the way with 18 points en route to tournament MVP honors. Henry averaged 20 points per game in the Rams’ three wins.
“I though we played well most of the time. I thought we did a good job defensively and held a good team that scores 60 points per game,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. “Derrick came to play and deserved the MVP. He played well.”
For the third straight game, the Rams struggled from the charity stripe only to close out another win from the line down the stretch. Newton hit its last six free throws to keep its lead and Cedar Shoals was unable to get it any closer than four points.
“For some reason the free throw bug got us a bit. I don't know why — maybe a vacation from free throw shooting,” Rasmussen said. “Sometimes you get three games in a row and you don't get to prac- tice much.”
Newton used a 19-7 second quarter to build a double-digit lead it would never relinquish in the second half. The Rams led 14-13 after the first, 42-35 heading into the fourth and built a 15-point lead at one point.
The Rams could have put the game out of reach early had they made some free throws. They drained only one in the opening quarter but rebounded to finish 12 for 24 for the game.
Willie Smith was a force on both ends of the floor, scoring 15 points while
grabbing seven rebounds. He also finished with four blocks and two steals.
Alex Ordu knocked down two threes with his second giving the Rams a 15-point lead in the second quarter. Ordu finished with 12 points to go along with seven assists.
Both teams finished at 40 percent shooting from the floor. The difference was rebounding. Newton out- rebounded the Jaguars on the offensive end 14 to 6.
The Rams put their perfect region record on the line Friday at home versus Newnan. Then it’s off to Westlake for a much-anticipated matchup with one of the state's best programs.
“It’s nice to win a Christmas tournament to build some momentum going into one of the toughest January schedules I can remember us ever having,” Rasmussen said. “We have tough region games every Tuesday and Friday, then Rockdale County twice and rival Eastside on consecutive Saturdays in January.
“We’ve had a good start to the season, particularly when you factor in only having one returning starter and our lack of experience, but we’ll really be tested in the second half. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
Tourney champs: The Newton Rams won the inaugural Wingslinger Holiday Bash after a 54-50 win over Cedar Shoals Thursday at East Jackson.