Newton boys top Newnan, stay in first
If Newton basketball coach Rick Rasmussen ever gets tired of teaching British literature, he may have a future in chemistry. The Rams remained undefeated in region play after Friday's 4936 win over Newnan despite trotting out yet another new starting lineup.
The two constants — Derrick Henry and Alex Ordu — combined for 29 of Newton's 49 points. Henry scored 13 points in the first half and 21 for the game.
"It was another one of these, we didn't play great but we got the job done, games," Rasmussen said. "It's kind of becoming a habit. Our rotation continues to change. We've never had to rotate it so much. We've had guys who weren't here or maybe late or acted like knuckleheads, so I've had to churn that thing. Derrick and Alex are pretty consistent but after that I just try to find three guys who want to join them."
Newton (10-2, 4-0 Region 2-AAAAA) trailed 7-1 until Henry's bucket with two minutes left to play in the first quarter. The Rams tied it at 7-7 on Stephen Croone's bucket a minute later and finished the quarter on an 82 run.
"It was interesting game. We started off very slowly. We've done that a few times and I don't know why," Rasmussen said. "Derrick started slowly then all of a sudden he got cranked up and we were playing. We can't afford to start like that Tuesday night at Westlake."
Newton kept it going early in the second by scoring the first nine points to cap a 172 run overall and lead 18-9. Henry's bucket with two seconds to go in the second put the Rams up 20-15 at halftime.
"He (Henry) had a nice bounce back at the end of the first quarter and had a good second quarter," Rasmussen said. "The whole team played better when he picked it up. It's kind of we go as he goes to a certain extent."
After taking the lead with 40 seconds left in the first, the Rams never trailed. Ordu's 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third gave Newton a 10-point lead heading into the final period.
Newnan crept to within seven but never mounted a serious charge. The Rams
held Newnan to four of 17 shooting in the fourth quarter and outrebounded them 34-28.
Both teams struggled from the free throw line. Newton went 10 of 22 while Newnan made just 11 of 24.
"I think some of that is who we have shooting them," Rasmussen said. "We have guys who don't start and aren't used to shooting them shoot them, not a guy who shoots 10 a game. That's part of our lack of consistent five guys. I wish we could get some consistency."
Both teams struggled at times with turnovers but for the most part took care of the ball. Newton turned it over 13 times to Newnan's 15.
At 4-0 in region play, the Rams are a game up on Langston Hughes and three clear of Westlake heading into the showdown with the defending state runner-up Tuesday.
Rejected: Willie Smith (21) blocks Tray Mathews (34) during Newton's 49-36 win over Newnan Friday.