Entering last Friday, the Lady Rams were dead last in Region 2-AAAA, sitting at 0-3. Time was running out to make a serious run for the postseason.
That is until they traveled to Lithonia and defeated third-ranked M.L. King, 45-37.
"Nobody expected us to win," admitted Newton coach Tiffani Johnson. "I think it was definitely good for us; any win in the region is always helpful. It was a good way to start off the second half of the season on a positive note. That game showed that we can and will compete because we stayed intense the entire time."
One of the Newton upperclassmen who contributed to the victory was none other than Loren Wilkins, who netted a game-high 15 points.
"It was important because we were (coming) off a losing streak," said Wilkins, "and then to just come back in and beat M.L. King was really exciting. It was really huge because now we are starting to come together as a team."
Based on her performance, Wilkins has been selected as the Chick-fil-A Prep Athlete of the Week.
"It was really important," said Wilkins of the monumental win. "Now since it's crunch time we have to learn to start playing under pressure and playing together. We should be pretty excited for the rest of the season."
This season Wilkins is averaging 10 points per game, four rebounds and two assists.
"In the games, she steps up," noted Johnson. "She has moments where she looks like she could go to the WNBA, so we're trying to have more of those to show she could be a Division I athlete."
Wilkins, a senior who maintains A's and B's in the classroom, is a three-year starter who has been a member of the Lady Rams for all four years.
"Off the court, she's a great kid who is involved with a lot of things," said Johnson. "She's done very well with time management, and I think that shows how successful she'll be as an adult.
"On the court, she's one of those players (who) is going to do whatever you tell her to do," added Johnson. "Whether she likes it or not, she's going to do whatever she's supposed to do."
Though still early, Wilkins admits that she would indeed love the opportunity to play at the next level. In fact, she is supposed to visit North Greenville University soon. But for now, she is perfectly content with being a Lady Ram.
"Just the excitement you get from walking into the gym," said Wilkins of the honor it is to don the blue and white uniform. "Plus, I want to play college ball so this is really important to me."
Wilkins admits that along with Johnson, her mother has really pushed her to excel at whatever it is she attempts in life, with or without a basketball in her hands.
"I have (teammates) Shay (Marks) and Shandria (Usher) who have really helped me out," complimented Wilkins of others who have helped guide her along the way. "But getting this (award) really just makes me want to turn my whole game around."