Photo by Michael Buckelew
CONYERS -- There were a lot of winners and few losers in Tuesday's Senior All-Star Game between Newton and Rockdale counties.
The Newton girls were able to hold off Rockdale's charge to win their game 41-35, and the Newton boys came from behind to end the game in an 80-80 tie.
"It was a fun game. It was a great atmosphere," said Rockdale coach Al Williams. "The crowd was into it; it had an all-star atmosphere; it was good."
Rockdale and Newton County's marquee players -- Kevin Ware and Bernard Thompson for Rockdale and Derrick Henry for Newton -- had big games, combining for 88 points.
Henry, who is still uncommitted for next year, led all scorers with 34 points.
"He's in the process of considering all his options for next year," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said of Henry. "He hasn't decided. He has aspirations to play at the highest level that he can so he's considering a lot of things right now."
Thomas, who plans to sign with Florida Gulf Coast University later this week, had 26 points in the first half with the help of five 3-pointers. He finished the game with 33 points.
"I've been real happy since I decided," Thompson said. "The coach is real good and he was in the NBA for a little bit. He (seemed) like a real genuine guy and I felt that connection with him. I'm happy and I feel like I can play."
Ware, who showed off his talents with several dunks and is still heading to Central Florida, had 21 points for his efforts. Although Ware cannot sign with Central Florida after already signing with another school earlier in the year, he has given them a verbal commitment.
In the boys game, several players, such as Henry, Ware, Thompson, Donovan Barrett and Willie Smith, showed off their dunking abilities, elevating their game to a higher level.
However, Rockdale started hitting more shots and getting more rebounds as they took a 52-42 halftime lead.
Newton fought back, but Rockdale found a way to extend its lead until Henry came turned up the heat, scoring six points inside the final minute to tie the game.
"It would've been interesting to see what happened in overtime, but I thought that was fine to have it end in a tie," Rasmussen said. "We had a good night. It's not easy to play over here; it's a tough place to play and it's a real good home-court advantage for them.
"They made a lot of shots and that's how they got the lead. They had a lot of 3-pointers and a lot of acrobatic circus dunks. But we kept on them and I thought we did a good job competing. We did a better job in the last 10 to 15 minutes to tighten things up and we played a little smarter and made a game of it."
Also scoring in double figures were Smith (14) and Rometrick Camp (11) for the Newton team and Andre Freeman (13) for Rockdale's team.
In the girls' game, it was apparent who had the hot hand as Rockdale's Portia McCray led all scorers with 22 points. Combining for 22 points on the Newton side were Lisa Kossally (10) and Jjade Cook (12).
Before the games, the player participated in a 3-point shooting and a dunk contest.
Winning the 3-point shooting for the girls was Q. Sharif for Newton, making 11, with McCray coming in second with seven. In the qualifying round, McCray led all shooters making 14 treys.
Winning the 3-point competition for the boys was Newton's Chris Bonner, sinking 10, with Alex Ordu, also from the Newton side, making five.
Winning the dunk competition for the Newton side was Donovan Barrett, who beat out Derek Ferrell.
"The two kids from our county won the (dunk) contest and the girls won and we tied, so it was a great night," Rasmussen said. "It was a lot of fun."