Newton County teams hit stride in districtBy ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
A rigorous pre-division schedule is paying dividends for the Newton County Lady Cougars.
The Lady Cougars improved to 3-0 in Division 5-4A play last week as they took a 54-42 win over home-standing Quitman on Friday night in their only action of the week.
Meanwhile, the Cougars needed all 32 minutes to take a 55-52 win over Quitman to improve to 2-1 in 5-4A play.
“We have to keep on playing hard,” Newton County coach Cory Cleveland said. “We are 3-0 right now but we still have seven more games to go. Anything could happen. If we don’t execute and take care of business, it could change just like that. We’ve got three big division games this week so hopefully the momentum will keep going our way.”
County has a full slate of games this week as they will host Northeast Lauderdale on Monday in a makeup game from last week and then host Northeast Jones on Tuesday. On Friday, both teams will go to Mendenhall for another district game while the Cougars will hit the road to New Albany on Saturday to play Ingomar in the Hotbed Classic.
County boys 55, Quitman 52
The Cougars used a big fourth period to pull away and beat home-standing Quitman on Friday night.
Quitman led 14-12 at the end of the first and scored the last six points of the second period to take a 27-25 lead into the half.
“We had a chance to be ahead by four or five points at the half but the last 20 seconds of the half we just sort of quit and instead of being ahead, we let them score six points in the last 20 seconds and trailed by two points at the half,” County coach Steve Harber said. “At halftime, we talked about being more aggressive on the boards and did that. We had some people hit some real big shots. It never got over a three-point game either way in the second half. It was nip and tuck the entire second half.”
Quitman maintained its lead in the third period as it outscored Newton County 11-10 to lead 38-35 heading into the fourth. But in the fourth, the Cougars got some clutch free-throw shooting as Jaylin Nicholson hit 6-of-6 from the line and Peyton Reeves hit 4-of-4. Also, Reeves hit a clutch 3-pointer and Yunish Billy nailed a 3-pointer to give County the lead.
“I thought the difference was we hit our free throws down the stretch,” Harber said. “We had the ball with 50 seconds remaining and held the ball for the last shot and Jarius Huddleston got fouled and hit a free throw to put us ahead. Jaylin then made two more for us to win by three. It was a good team win for us, it’s tough to win down there.”
Nicholson finished with 17 points to lead a balanced scoring attack. Billy added 14 points while Reeves had 11 points and Chris Mulford chipped in eight.
County girls 54, Quitman 42
The Lady Cougars improved to 3-0 in division play as they took a solid 12-point win over the Lady Panthers.
The game was tight in the first half as County led 10-9 at the end of the first but trailed 20-19 at the half. But the Lady Cougars took control of the game in the third as they outscored Quitman 18-7 in the third to take a 37-27 lead into the fourth.
“We are much better right now and are playing better on defense,” County girls coach Cory Cleveland said. “We are doing a better job in our zone defense. We executed much better on offense against Quitman. We made some shots and when you execute, good things are going to happen.”
Tiffany Wilson had a big night as she pumped in a game-high 20 points. Shantasia John had nine points while Chelsea Giles had eight points and Nahriah Brown added six.