By Bob Jones
Special to the Daily
Early in the second quarter the visiting Newnan Cougars and the Luella Lions were knotted at 12 in a low-scoring battle.
All of a sudden, everything started clicking for the Lions, and Luella exploded for a 30-14 half-time lead.
The Lions were able to hold off a furious Cougars rally in the second half, and Luella claimed the 2-AAAAA victory, 58-46.
Seven different Lions scored in the decisive second period, with Jafari Smith and Chris Taylor leading the way with five each.
The Lions were on fire from the floor, hitting 8 of 11 shots for a sizzling 73 percent. The Luella run ended at 16 straight points early in the third, with the Lions holding their biggest lead of the game at 32-14.
Both teams had suffered through poor performances in the first.
Newnan committed 10 first-quarter turnovers, while Luella missed eleven shots out of 14 tries in the dismal opening frame that ended in a 10-all tie.
Newnan, however, nailed three 3-pointers in the fourth and rallied back to a 49-43 deficit with two chances to cut the lead further in the fourth.
Poor free throw shooting doomed the Cougars comeback, and Smith took over for Luella with a pair of fourth quarter steals, a pair of assists and a pair of fast break lay-ups to seal the deal.
Smith led Luella with 13 points, five assists, and four steals. Taylor netted 10, as did Tafari Hodge. Hodge pulled down seven rebounds to lead the Lions. Newnan was paced
by a pair of elevens from Marques Person and Immanuel Griggs.
Lady Lions head coach Eddie Pratt had this to say before the first game of the evening: "(We) are young with talent. We are looking to enter every game and play hard for 32 minutes. We are not there yet, but we use every practice to get better. When you're starting from the ground up, things go well at times and they quickly go south. Consistency is what we're looking for."
Girls game: Just as in the boys game, the second quarter was the decisive one for the girls, with Newnan pounding Luella on their way to a 67-52 victory.
Pratt's Lady Lions opened with a solid first period, leading 21-16 behind Amber Griffin's eight points and Newnan's eight turnovers.
The Lady Cougars, however, scored the last basket of the first, and the Newnan run continued until the score reached 29-21 (15-0 run) when Indya Foster finally scored at 3:42 of the second for Luella. When the horn sounded to send the teams to the locker rooms for half-time, Newnan had thrown a 23-6 quarter at the Lady Lions.
Pratt's team didn't mail it in after the break, and Luella came back to trail just 49-44 early in the fourth, but Newnan just found too many seams in the Luella defense for easy shots to trump any Lady Lions' momentum. Newnan closed out the fourth on an 18-8 run for the regional victory. The defeat dropped Luella to 0-2 in 2-AAAAA and 1-3 overall. It was the first win of the 2010-2011 season for Newnan (1-1, 1-3).
Rebounding was a huge advantage for Newnan's Lady Cougars (42-23), as was field goal percentage (26 of 47 for 55 percent to Luella's 19 of 60 for 32%). Kierra Clark and Shakeria Langford each scored 15 for the visitors. Carrington Johnson led Luella with 17 points. Britney Guy scored 11, but suffered through a 3 of 18 (17 percent) shooting night. Griffin ended up with 10 points, four assists, and three steals.