Newton High School was the better team for 30 minutes, but 30 minutes of near-perfect basketball wasn't enough in a 32-minute game Saturday. The length and athleticism of the Westlake High basketball team took over in the final two minutes and the Lions beat Newton 64-59.
The key to Newton's success in the 2015-2016 boys' basketball season has been its three talented backcourt mates, Jaquan Simms, JD Notae and Ashton Hagans. The trio provides Newton with a stability on both sides of the ball unlike any other in the state.
Newton outscored Grayson 23-9 in the third quarter, and its big three, of JD Notae, Ashton Hagans and Jaquan Simms scored a combined 54 points total to beat the other Rams 71-52 and avance to the final four of the Georgia High School Association basketball tournament Thursday.
The Newton Rams were close to blowing a double-digit lead against Peachtree Ridge on Saturday evening, but instead of allowing a Lions' comeback victory, they held on to win 63-61 and advance to the Georgia High School Association basketball elite eight for the second-straight year.
Down four entering the fourth quarter against a tough No. 4 seed in Douglas County and University of North Carolina commit Brandon Robinson, a fiery speech from Coach Rick Rasmussen at the end of the third lit a fire under the Rams and they went on to win 71-65, advancing to play Peachtree Ridge on Saturday 6 p.m.
Good teams usually find a way to win games, even when their shot isn't falling. That's what the Lady Rams were able to do against Langston Hughes on Wednesday evening in a low-scoring 35-28 Newton win to advance to play West Forsyth in the Sweet 16 on the road, Friday.
After letting Rockdale come back from an 11-point deficit with less than three minutes to play and beat Newton at home on senior night, the Rams reedemed themselves in a 17-point victory (59-42) over nearby county rival Rockdale.
After going into the fourth quarter up by eight points, Lovejoy battled back to give the Lady Rams a late scare, but Newton took its final lead in the closing seconds to advance to the region championship game with the 65-62 win.
Three Newton Rams made the All-Region 2-AAAAAA basketball team and Rockdale's Jalen Jordan beat out Tucker's Kenton Eskridge and Newton's JD Notae to take home Region 2-AAAAAA Player of the Year honors. The 2-AAAAAA coaches ranked the players in order of the first and second All-Region teams and they are listed below along with the honorable mentions.
It was a mismatch coming in with Eastside sitting on a 5-18 record including a 1-10 mark in region play and the Lady Rams boasting an impressive 19-5 (7-3 region) record, though it didn't start that way, it ended with Newton on top in a lopsided 67-24 win.
Newton High School had 16, well, 17 signees make it official on National Signing Day Wednesday, if you count former Newton Ram, Toyous Avery, who signed his letter of intent to play for West Virginia University after playing two years of JUCO at Coffeyville Community College.
Newton sophomore Alexcia Chatman broke a school record on Saturday with nine three-pointers in a win against Salem. Chatman nailed four treys in the first quarter, three in the second quarter and one in the third and fourth quarters. The sensational sophomore finished the game with 28 points, adding one free throw to her record-breaking nine triples.
Not one, but two fourth quarter collapses for Newton basketball (girls and boys) against rival Rockdale highlighted what was supposed to be a joyous senior night for the Newton basketball players, but ended in dismay as Rockdale shocked the world (two counties) twice.