Rams rip Stephenson for 4th straight win
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."
Full speed: Tai Avery sprints toward the lane during the fourth quarter of Newton's 48-42 loss to Stephenson.
Newton coach Tiffani Johnson saw her team make it a one-point game before falling down the stretch to Stephenson 48-42.