As far as basketball courts go, it doesn't get any bigger than Philips Arena for Georgia natives. Newton's Lady Rams and the Lady Panthers of Americus-Sumter converged on the Hawks' home court in the early afternoon on Monday to watch the 28th (Americus-Sumter) and 29th (Newton) ranked teams in the state (according to Maxpreps.com) clash.
Tucker has been a thorn in Newton's side for the last year-plus and Newton was unable to rid itself of that thorn as both of last year's Region 2-AAAAAA boys' and girls' basketball champions came out victorious at home. The formerly undefeated Lady Rams (7-1, 1-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) maintained a four-point lead after halftime, but fell to the Lady Tigers 72-60. The boys (5-2, 1-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) looked to be in control for 31 minutes, but in the 32nd, Tucker took the final lead and won 57-56.
Newton boys basketball (4-1, 1-0 Region 2-AAAAAA) engineered yet another blowout on its way to an 82-40 win over North Oconee. The Lady Rams (6-0, 1-0 Region 2-AAAAAA) were up and down throughout the game against North Oconee, but they outscored the Lady Titans, 27-21 in the final frame to earn the 64-58 victory.
Since Newton Basketball Coach Rick Rasmussen has been at Newton High School, the Rams have had 26 players go on to play in college. Of the 26, eight are currently playing in college with three of them playing at the NCAA Division I level.
Alcovy and Newton boys' and girls' basketball took the floor at Alcovy High School on Tuesday evening and both Newton teams handled their county rival with ease to begin region play. The Lady Rams outlasted a fourth-quarter push by Alcovy to win 58-41 and the boys never took their foot off the gas in a 88-41 beatdown.
Seven Newton High School football players were named to the 2-AAAAAA All-Region team and senior quarterback Romario Johnson was named Offensive Player of the Year. Junior defensive back Robert Black was the lone member of the All-Region team for Alcovy.
After everything, injuries, penalties, bad plays on defense, miscues on offense last year's Cinderella team, Newton, was nine yards away from tying the game at 31 and eight yards away from a first down with 3:34 to play on fourth down.
The rivalry between Newton High School and Eastside High School didn't matter on Tuesday night as both the Rams' girls' and the boys' basketball teams won big with ease. The Lady Rams were up first and won 54-33 and then the boys took the spotlight and won 90-60.
Like their male counterparts, the Newton Lady Rams have a promising, deep, talented and young team. The Lady Rams were a basket or two away from beating Tucker in the Region 2-AAAAAA Championship but they fell 45-41 before losing by four in the first round of the state playoffs to Colquitt County. This year Newton is deeper, more experienced and looking to right the ship with a region title and a trip beyond the first round of the playoffs.
Senior quarterback Romario Johnson led a highly efficient Newton offense and finished with 329 yards of total offense and one touchdown helping to lift Newton to a 38-17 victory over East Coweta. Of the Rams' seven drives throughout the game, five resulted in points, one was a punt and the other was a kneel-down to end the game.
Friends and family of Ciara Bryan packed the Newton auditorium to celebrate Bryan's softball signing with the University of Georgia. Before the ink hit the paper, some of Bryan's friends went on stage with loving words for the Newton senior, forcing tears of joy to fall from Bryan's face. The highlight of the ceremony followed as Bryan signed her letter of intent, making it official that she would be a softball player for UGA beginning in Fall 2016.
Newton has earned a lot of offseason hype with the addition of highly sought after freshman guard Ashton Hagans, who has received an offer from the University of Georgia before stepping on the court. Hagans, along with returning guards JD. Notae and Jaquan Simms, hopes to form one of the best 'big three' in Region 2-AAAAAA.