Fuel the streak

Henry's 30 lifts Rams past Stephen­son for 26th straight re­gion win

The Covington News - - Sports - Josh Briggs Sports Edi­tor

There's no love lost be­tween Newton and Stephen­son es­pe­cially while Der­rick Henry is a Ram.

Henry, who grew ups play­ing with sev­eral Stephen­son play­ers, scorched the Jaguars for 17 points in the open­ing quar­ter and 30 on the game, Alex Ordu and Stephen Croone added 12 and 11 re­spec­tively and the Rams rolled to a 63-52 win to re­main un­beaten in re­gion play.

The Rams have beaten Stephen­son in five straight dat­ing back to last year in­clud­ing last year's re­gion cham­pi­onship game and pushed their re­gion win­ning streak to 26.

Henry was a ma­chine in the first quar­ter. He scored 12 of Newton's first 14 points in­clud­ing tow threes and pro­pelled the Rams to a 21-7 lead at the end of the pe­riod. Newton (17-2, 9-0 Re­gion 2AAAAA) built its lead to 19 at the break. Henry fin­ished the first half with 21.

"That first half was a thing of beauty," Newton coach Rick Ras­mussen said. "We had a great first half. The team played very well in the first half."

The sec­ond half was a dif­fer­ent story. In­stead of the well-ex­e­cuted of­fen­sive show, the game slowed down thanks to sev­eral turnovers and fouls. The Rams fell vic­tim to Stephen­son's trash talk­ing and rough play in the third quar­ter and saw their 19-point lead slowly di­min­ish.

Up 36-17 open­ing the third quar­ter, the Rams hit their first shot to push their lead to 21. Stephen­son re­sponded with quick 6-1 run then con­tin­ued to eat away at Newton's lead.

The Jaguars used full­court pres­sure de­fense and found suc­cess off turnovers and at the free throw line. Der­rick Harper went 10 for 10 from the line and had eight free throws in the third pe­riod.

"We got sloppy ver­sus their pres­sure and went cold at the same time," Ras­mussen said.

Stephen­son ad­justed its de­fense on Henry in the sec­ond half, forc­ing other play­ers to pro­duce. Ordu and Croone were up to the task. Ordu hit a three in the sec­ond half to give the Rams some re­lief, then later a key layup and Croone con­tin­ued to im­prove his in­te­rior game by get­ting to the rim and fin­ish­ing.

The two teams jawed with each other through­out the sec­ond half fu­el­ing the al­ready bit­ter ri­valry.

The game was es­pe­cially emo­tional for both Ordu and Henry who grew up play­ing in Stephen­son's district. Ordu was an All-Re­gion player for Stephen­son last year be­fore mov­ing to Newton be­fore the sum­mer.

The Rams en­dured a tech­ni­cal foul and sev­eral poor pos­ses­sions in the third and led 48-41 head­ing into the fourth.

The Rams re­gained their com­po­sure in the fourth quar­ter and reestab­lished com­mand of the game by outscor­ing Stephen­son 1511.

"We still led by seven at the end of it and then got the lead back up to 17 be­fore in the fourth be­fore they tried to make it some­thing other than bas­ket­ball," Ras­mussen said.

Henry scored his 30th point with 1:43 to go and nar­rowly missed a new ca­reer high. He's scored 32 twice — the last time com­ing against Luella last week.

Newton sits at 9-0 and two games clear of sec­ond place Langston Hughes. The Rams play New­nan Tues­day on the road be­fore re­turn­ing home to take on East Coweta Wed­nes­day.

"We are play­ing well and try­ing to stay on top of the re­gion," Ras­mussen said. "We have to take it one game at a time."

Brit­tany Thomas/The Cov­ing­ton News

Pro­vid­ing a lift: Alex Ordu drives to bas­ket for a key layup dur­ing the fourth quar­ter of Newton's 63-52 win over Stephen­son Fri­day.

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