Despite a few setbacks due to injury and illness, it should nevertheless be a good matchup when the Rams take on Stephenson this evening on Senior Night at Newton High.
However, a Newton win will come as no small task, as several players have been going through injuries and a flu bug that has really affected them lately.
"It's been interesting," said Newton coach Rick Rasmussen.
Last Tuesday, Montrell Grimes rolled his ankle prior to tipoff against M.L. King. But even with the heavily taped ankle, he still dropped 20 points. On Saturday, Jamon Hawkins (bruised knee) and Sean Monk (shoulder) each went down in the win over Salem on the road.
And on Tuesday, Grimes and Demetrius McCray sat out with the flu, unable to contribute in the loss against Redan.
"It's a big game for us," said Rasmussen. "We'd love to do well, but we won't have Sean, and we'll have a hoppled Demetrius and Montrell. It's going to be a real challenge."
Should the Rams (17-7 overall, 8-5 Region 2-AAAAA) win, they must be able to stop college prospect Adrian Coleman. On Jan. 11, Coleman dropped 18 points during a 66-49 win over Newton.
"We can't let them run because they're real long and athletic," said Rasmussen. "We'll need to take care of the ball and be patient and shoot good shots. We can't force bad shots because they'll be out on a run. They're playing extremely well right now."
Stephenson's William Tolefree and Rashad Carter reached doubles figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
"We're hoping Omar (Crawley) will do well off the bench," said Rasmussen of the senior, who replaces Monk tonight in the starting lineup.
Newton should get some home cooking this time around, seeing that Stephenson (16-6, 10-3) went to the free-throw line 21 times compared to just four during their previous matchup.
Monk led the Rams with 18 points. His absence tonight will most certainly play a factor in the outcome. Tevin Bradley and Montrell Grimes each scored 10 points apiece, while Jamon Hawkins chipped in with eight.
More than likely, the Rams will face Redan next week in the game to go to state regardless of what happens tonight. Newton is a virtual lock for fourth in region action.
"This week the biggest thing is to get better," said Rasmussen.