COVINGTON -- Newton's boys basketball team played good enough to win but at the end it could not top Morrow as it was eliminated from playoff contention. Meanwhile, the Eastside boys, along with the Newton and Rockdale girls, were able to prevail.
The Eastside boys, in Region 8-AAAA, along with the Newton and Rockdale girls, in Region 2-AAAAAA, made it to the state playoffs with their wins on Tuesday. Eastside got by Monroe Area with a 39-30 win while both girls teams had little trouble in their games. Newton beat Druid Hills 61-42 while the Rockdale girls won their game 53-45.
In the Region 2-AAAAAA boys tournament, Newton came close but faded late in the fourth quarter, losing to Morrow 43-38 on Wednesday.
The Rams had a slight lead midway through the fourth before the Mustangs started to pull away. Newton was able to get back within one point when DJ Hill was fouled and sent to the line for a one-and-one. But an injury on the play took the ball out of his hand.
"He got his elbow banged up and we had to sub him out to shoot the front end of a one-and-one," Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen said. "He missed it and they went down and scored. Then we were down three. We missed a 3-pointer to tie it, then they went down and got fouled and made both free throws."
While free throw shooting was not a factor with Morrow 4-for-7 from the line while Newton was 5-for-6, the problem for Newton was that there were not a lot of fouls being called.
"When you play a team that's longer and more athletic and they don't call fouls, that favors the bigger team. We got outrebounded in the game 28-21 but we did a better job cutting out their offensive rebounds in the second half," Rasmussen said.
After being held to two points in the first period, the Rams came back strong to trail just 19-18 at the half before taking a 32-31 lead to start the fourth.
"We had hit a few outside shots earlier but we didn't get anything outside in the fourth quarter and we needed to. If we had hit one 3-pointer it might have made a difference," Rasmussen said. "I thought we gave it great effort. We just came up a little short."
In Tuesday's games, the Eastside boys had their lowest output of the season. But at the same time, they held Monroe Area to the least amount of points scored against them as well.
"A good team can play bad but still win," Eastside head coach Gregory Freeman said. "I think we had more turnovers than points in the first half."
The Eagles were able to outdo Monroe Area in the second quarter to take a one-point 15-14 halftime lead. Eastside scored 15 points while the Hurricanes were a point behind after going to a 5-5 tie following the opening period.
"We did a good job but we left a lot of points around the basket," Freeman said. "I counted 12 shots in the first half, that's at least 20 points."
The Eagles came out in the third with a little bit more focus to extend their lead to 32-28 and holding Monroe Area to two points in the fourth frame while only adding seven to their total.
"They sat in the zone in the fourth quarter," Freeman said of his team. "I think they have to want to be champions. If they want to win region, it's time for a test of will."
Region 8-AAAA first-team player Quindarrious Russell led all scorers with 14 points with Treyvon Francis adding 11.
The Eagles will be back on the court at Johnson, Gainesville today at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinals against Madison County.
In the girls tournament, the Lady Rams, led by Sonia Forney's 20 points including going 8-for-9 from the line, had no trouble beating Druid Hills for the third time this season. As a result of their win, Newton will face Rockdale in the semifinal game 4 p.m. on Friday at Luella. The Lady Bulldogs eliminated Morrow with a 53-45 win.