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Posted: June 21, 2012 7:10 p.m.

Summer sensations

Newton starts its summer basketball schedule 6-0

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The Newton Rams gather around boys' basketball coach Rick Rasmussen during a summer game this week. Newton has won all six of its games and will conclude its summer season with camps at UGA and Georgia College and State.

Before the Newton basketball team began its summer season, coach Rick Rasmussen said it would be like a mini season due to the amount of games the Rams would be playing.

Six games into Newton's summer schedule and things are looking very good.

The Rams are 6-0 after a little over a week of games and scrimmages, with two games left in the North Georgia Hoops League, including one Thursday night after press time against Athens Christian at Monroe Area High School.

Athens Christian was the state runner up in Class A.

Newton is looking to return to the state playoffs itself, and is using the summer as the starting point.

If the regular season begins the way the Rams' summer season has the dream of the playoff return could become a reality.

"We are quick and are building chemistry and toughness," Rasmussen said. "We take charges and are solid in the open floor."

Those intangibles have been showing themselves throughout the six victories, starting with a 52-28 win over Loganville at Walnut Grove on Monday.

Jalen Glover provided one of many sparks for the Rams during the Loganville victory, with two big slam dunks on back-to-back possessions, igniting Newton's bench.

"He is extremely athletic and will undoubtedly play at the next level," Rasmussen said.

The Rams then defeated Walnut Grove 48-28 later in the day, with Rashard Cabane and Kishon Rogers hooking up for a highlight on an alley-oop dunk on a fast break.

At Apalachee on Tuesday, Newton defeated Winder-Barrow 47-27, before beating Hebron Christian 59-37.

Newton picked up its two most recent wins Wednesday, beating Apalachee 59-53 and Dacula 53-46 at Apalachee.

Newton took a 14-0 lead over Dacula after another alley-oop pass from Cabane to Rogers.

The kind of teamwork displayed by Cabane and Rogers is what Rasmussen is looking for this summer as Newton tries to move on from two standout graduates.

Stephen Croone will play for Furman next year and Shane Henry will be using his talents at Georgia Perimeter College.

With two college-level players missing from the 2013 lineup, Rasmussen was hoping to develop chemistry this summer to fill in the statistical gaps.

"The chemistry has been great," Rasmussen said. "Everyone is giving their best, working hard, taking charges on defense, rebounding by committee, and making the extra passes on offense."

Rasmussen is also looking for leadership to emerge after the departure of the 2012 seniors, and is finding that this offseason.

"Several guys have emerged as leaders on the floor for our team," Rasmussen said. "Senior forward Rashard Cabane, senior guard Kishon Rogers, junior forward Jalen Glover, and junior forward Rodarius Mitchell have played well. (Point guards) junior MJ Boykin, sophomore DJ Hill, and senior Jamir Davis have also contributed."

Statistically Cabane and Glover have been leading the way, both averaging in double figures.

"They are our two returning starters, so there is no surprise there," Rasmussen said.

The Rams will look to continue their summer streak against Monroe Area tonight before playing at the University of Georgia team camp Saturday.

"We expect the competition to continue to get tougher, and we also look forward to finishing strong at Georgia College next Monday through Wednesday," Rasmussen said. "I am pleased with what I have seen so far. We don't have much height, but we get after it and are fundamental and run an offense."

 

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