SUWANEE — Clinging to a five-point lead late in the first quarter, the Collins Hill girls turned up their defensive pressure and never looked back Thursday night in their first-round matchup at home against fourth-seeded Newton.
The Eagles out-scored the Rams 29-8 over the final nine-plus minutes of the first half and went on to cruise to a dominant 66-41 victory after forcing the Rams into 33 turnovers, 22 of which were forced in the first half.
Collins Hill senior Asjah Inniss led the way with a game-high 17 points and stole three passes while Kamryn Collins scored 14 and Sacha Washington scored 12.
“I don’t think we put ourselves in a position in that second half to even compete,” Newton head coach Tiffani Johnson said. “(Collins Hill) earned the win and got the win. We wish them good luck.”
With the Eagles struggling to hit shots early, the Rams were able to hang close for the first six minutes of the first quarter. An Ashanti Wright three-pointer trimmed Collins Hill’s lead to five with 1:47 remaining in the first before the Eagles went on their run.
The next 21 points scored by the Eagles came directly following Rams turnovers and it gave the hosts a commanding 35-15 lead with 2:31 remaining before halftime.
“We lost focus and started turning the ball over,” Johnson said. “Once they started running, I think we put our heads down a little bit instead of trying to fight back. We got bit by that turnover bug and just couldn’t get rid of it. That caused a lot of easy buckets on their end.”
Collins Hill entered the break leading Newton 43-17 and scored 27 points off turnovers. Inniss paced the Eagles at the break with 13 points while Collins followed close behind with 11. Newton sophomore Ashleigh Norris (6 points) was the only Ram with more than three points at the break.
Despite the Eagles’ big lead heading into the third quarter, three-point field goals were hard to come by for the hosts, who shot just 1 of 10 from behind the arc in the first half.
Jailah Clark-Jones knocked down the Eagle’s second and final three-pointer of the game late in the third quarter to extend Collins Hill’s lead to 48-21. The Eagles finished the game shooting just 2-for-17 from long distance.
Leading the Rams 55-24 heading into the fourth, Collins Hill head coach Brian Harmon was slowly able to phase out his starting unit and swap them out with backups, leading to just 11 points scored in the final quarter.
Continuing to show fight, the Rams out-scored the Eagles 17-11 in the fourth quarter with point guard Maka’ya Cushion leading the charge. The senior scored all seven of her points in the final frame while Norris chipped in with a pair of field goals.
Norris led the Rams in scoring with 10 points while Wright scored nine.
Johnson will say goodbye to several seniors, including Wright, Cushion, Freeman and others.
“It’s such an awesome group of young ladies,” Johnson said of her seniors. “Character wise off the floor, they’re awesome women and very talented. I know some of them are going to do big things and some will probably be the first to ever do whatever it is that they do. I’m looking forward to seeing what they become in the future.”