PHILADELPHIA — Neshoba Central has made its living on defense under first-year head coach Justin Childs.
It was no different on Friday night.
The Rockets backed up another aggressive defensive performance with a balanced offensive attack to race past Newton County 63-40 in the Neshoba Central Holiday Shootout.
Neshoba Central (16-2) did an especially good job guarding the three-point line, and Newton County never made one..
“I thought we defended really well and that’s one thing we’ve built this team on this season is defense," Childs said. "Not being overly aggressive, but protecting the paint and making it tough to score against. We had guys step up and not only make shots, but big timely shots.”
Neshoba Central (16-2) never trailed.
The Rockets jumped out to a fast start at 16-5 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter Neshoba Central built a 28-9 lead, but Newton County went on a 8-0 run to cut the lead down to 28-17 at halftime.
To begin the third quarter, the Cougars cut the Rockets lead down to six points at 30-24, but Neshoba Central went on a 14-2 run to close the quarter to take a commanding 44-26 heading into the fourth.
From that point, the lead never got below 19 points.
“One our goals of every game is to win the first two minutes of the second half. That’s the most important two minutes of the game,” Childs said. “We have great senior leadership that whether the storm a lot this year in games and they respond really well.”
Zae Goodin had 12 points to lead Neshoba Central, while Elijah Ruffin added 10 points for the Rockets.
“We’re very balanced scoring wise and that’s been great,” Childs said. “We got guys that play very well together and that’s been a strength for us. Now we got to get ready for district play and we’re about to see what we’re made of.”
Sebastian Johnson had 11 points to lead Newton County (7-7).
“Neshoba did a great job, their defense was hard to get inside and they played tough,” said Newton County coach Steven Wade. “We rely on outside shooting and playing two days in a row kind of effected that, but our guys won’t quit and we fought hard.”
Neshoba Central 62, Newton County 29
Zharia Leflore had a game-high 24 points as the Lady Rockets, the defending Class 5A state champions, raced past the Lady Cougars.
Newton County only managed to score six points in the second half. Kyli Trass added 14 points for Neshoba Central (13-3).
Kelcie Thomas had six points to lead Newton County (7-7).