Rams rip Stephen­son for 4th straight win

The Covington News - - Front page - Josh Briggs Sports Edi­tor

Newton's girls were in it to the very end again against Stephen­son at home. But like per­vi­ous ef­forts, the Lady Rams were un­able to close deal and fell 48-42.

"We had a cou­ple of turnovers com­ing out (in the sec­ond half)," Newton coach Tif­fani John­son said. "It just took us a sec­ond com­ing out in the sec­ond half to get started again."

Kaliyah Mitchell scored a game-high 15 to pace the Lady Jaguars. Qais­erah Sharif scored 12 to lead Newton. Mikola Burks also fin­ished in dou­ble fig­ures with 10.

It was Burks who kept Newton in the game in the fourth quar­ter. She hit two 3-point­ers on con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions to bring the Lady Rams to within one with 4:02 left in the game.

Stephen­son shut Newton down over the fi­nal four min­utes of the quar­ter with strong de­fense and even stronger re­bound­ing.

Stephen­son's size and ath­leti­cism helped them get an ad­van­tage in­side and they came down with sev­eral key of­fen­sive re­bounds down the stretch.

"I think re­bound­ing def­i­nitely cost us the game," John­son said. "It seemed like they scored prob­a­bly their last 12 points off of put­backs. That was the story of the game."

Newton started slowly as it has many times this sea­son be­fore pick­ing things up of­fen­sively in the sec­ond quar­ter. Stephen­son led 178 af­ter the first quar­ter but the Lady Rams turned the trick with a 17-9 sec­ond quar­ter and trailed by one at half­time.

As well as the Lady Rams did to get back into the game and ac­tu­ally take a lead late in the sec­ond quar­ter, they bucked their re­cent trend of com­ing on strong in the sec­ond half with a poor third quar­ter.

Stephen­son held Newton to six points in the third but only led by six go­ing into the fourth.

Tai Avery scored a layup at the buzzer in the third quar­ter to close the gap to 37-31 and give the Lady Rams mo­men­tum head­ing into the fourth.

Newton kept it go­ing to open the fourth quar­ter. Af­ter trad­ing buck­ets, Burks hit a three with 5:46 to go in the game to make it 39-36. Af­ter a Stephen­son bucket and a Newton free throw, Burks struck again with her sec­ond three of the game to closed the gap to one. That was as close as Newton would get.

"I guess you can't have

it all," John­son said. "We im­proved in one area and slacked of com­ing out at the half. Over­all I'll fo­cus on the pos­i­tives from this game be­cause we did a lot of good things."

Stephen­son pushed its re­gion record to 9-0 while Newton slipped to 6-3. Even with a sec­ond re­gion loss in as many games, the Lady Rams still have a firm grip on the No. 3 seed as they look to make it to the state play­offs for the first time un­der John­son.

"I'm def­i­nitely pleased with the ef­fort," John­son said. "We came out ready and fo­cused and we proved that when we do that, we can com­pete. We just have to get there."

Brit­tany Thomas/The Cov­ing­ton News

Full speed: Tai Avery sprints to­ward the lane dur­ing the fourth quar­ter of Newton's 48-42 loss to Stephen­son.

Brit­tany Thomas/The Cov­ing­ton News

Newton coach Tif­fani John­son saw her team make it a one-point game be­fore fall­ing down the stretch to Stephen­son 48-42.

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