PLANT CITY — This season’s first clash between Class 5A, District 8 rivals Durant and Newsome came down to overtime with the visiting Cougars winning by six points.
Tuesday’s rematch at Durant was nowhere near as close.
Newsome jumped out to a 12-point halftime lead en route to a lopsided 60-40 win that handed Durant its first district loss.
“They were the top seed and we were No. 2,” Newsome coach John Mackey said. “We closed the gap a little. We keep track of (the district race). That’s the guts of the whole thing.”
As the second quarter wound down it appeared the Wolves (9-6, 6-2) would head into the locker room with a six-point lead, but they doubled that advantage in the waning seconds.
Moments after Dylan Bridges made a basket he was fouled by Adrian Nelson, who protested and was given a technical foul. Bridges and Trent Mackey each made two foul shots to give Newsome a 26-14 lead at the break.
“A six-point lead at halftime, it’s anybody’s ball game,” John Mackey said. “Obviously, you feel comfortable with a 12-point lead at halftime.”
The Wolves maintained their momentum by outscoring the Cougars 22-7 in the third quarter, thanks in part to Trent Mackey draining three of his five 3-pointers in that stretch. The senior guard finished with a game-high 27 points.
Bridges added 11 and Jamel Gist 10 for Newsome, which also benefited by going 9-of-12 at the free-throw line.
Durant (8-4, 6-1) got 20 points from Andre Nation, who had four 3-pointers, and 12 from Jetwan Smith, but not much help on offense — or defense, for that matter — from anyone else.
Asked about the difference between his team’s overtime loss to Durant and Tuesday’s 20-point victory, John Mackey responded, “I think we’re getting better as a team.”