Croone's hot shooting lifts Newton past Eastside
In Newton's three games against county foes this season, every game has come down to the last play. That wasn't the case Saturday.
The Rams (14-2) exacted revenge after losing its first game to Eastside in school history in December with a 50-33 win.
Stephen Croone scored a season-high 16 points on the strength of four 3-pointers, Derrick Henry capped a stellar week with 12 points and the Rams never trailed en route to their ninth straight win.
"That was a fairly different game than the first time around," Newton Coach Rick Rasmussen said. "I think we came to play. They got us the first time but we were ready it was a great win."
While each of the three county teams defeated the other for the first time since Alcovy came into the mix five years ago, Newton claims county superiority based on point differential.
Behind Croone, Newton started quickly. Croone hit two threes and scored eight points in the first quarter and the Rams built a 90 lead over the first three minutes.
Eastside didn't score over the first five minutes but then reeled off five straight to make it a 9-5 game.
Henry joined the foray to open the second quarter with a 3-pointer and Newton led 17-5. The Rams led 24-12 at the half.
"That's the first time we've seen a zone defense for an extended period of time in a while," Rasmussen said. "We shot the ball well. I thought we executed our zone offense well and hit some shots."
Newton's defense kept Eastside's Donovan Barrett in check. After torching the Rams for five three point- ers in December, Barrett hit just one and had 12 points. But it wasn't just Barrett. The Eagles scored 15 points over the first three quarters.
"That was one of our best defensive games of the year," Rasmussen said. "They scored 15 points through three quarters. That's great."
Henry, fresh off averaging 27 points in wins over M.L. King, Luella and Rockdale to start the week, was relatively quiet. Instead it was Croone who did the heavy lifting.
"I was pleased we shot the ball well," Rasmussen said. "We hadn't shot the ball as well as we are ca- pable of. I thought Stephen played particularly well. He looked like he was coming around last game and we decided to start him and he played well."
The Rams finished the hectic week 4-0 and will attempt to keep it going this week as they again will play four games as they makeup games lost to the snow storm.
"It was a tough week. Four games in five nights. I don't know of many teams in the state that took that on," Rasmussen said. "It was a big win for us. The second time you play someone is always the most important because it's closer to the end of the year. It's momentum and we hope we can keep it up."
Line it up: Stephen Croone hit four 3-pointers in Newton's 50-33 win over Eastside Saturday.