MVP Henry leads Rams to tour­na­ment ti­tle

The Covington News - - Sports - Josh Briggs Sports Edi­tor

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.”

sub­mit­ted photo

Tour­ney champs: The Newton Rams won the inaugural Wingslinger Hol­i­day Bash af­ter a 54-50 win over Cedar Shoals Thurs­day at East Jack­son.

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