For the Newton High basketball squad, the summer season came to an end Saturday.
It began on May 26 with three and a half weeks of two-a-day practices before entering game mode.
In the following week and a half, the Rams played a total of 25 games among two camps and a series of scrimmages at Ola High. They would not disappoint, finishing 21-4 in all games played. Amazingly, their four losses were by a combined eight points (two in each decision).
"The kids played really hard and did a lot of good things," said Newton coach Rick Rasmussen. "The competition was very good at both camps and the scrimmages. I think the team really bonded well together at the camps and handled everything that came their way.
"We challenged the kids to 'play like a Ram and be Ram tough' at the beginning of the summer, and they did just that," he added.
The level of competition was strong, as the Rams battled mostly 5A and 4A teams, including several squads that made appearances in the state tournament last season.
The Rams battled Dacula High (27-3 last season). Other teams included Beach, Windsor Forest, Statesboro, Stockbridge, Houston County, Brookwood and newest region rival Greenbrier.
Newton played in arguably the most scintillating contest of the summer against Brookwood High on Saturday at the Georgia College and State University camp.
Brookwood entered the game undefeated at camp, and it showed why, coming out by draining 3-pointers to build an early double-digit lead.
But the Rams started finding the mark themselves, quickly closing the gap and eventually taking the lead. Both teams continued to trade shots, with Newton finally holding on for a 69-67 win to end Brookwood's undefeated streak.
"We knew that we would have to hit our shots and take care of the ball to win," Rasmussen said. "Brookwood is a very good team that shoots very well. The game had the feel of a playoff game, and drew a lot of people to watch it."
Overall, the Rams shot 57 percent from the field with zero turnovers.
Newton also received excellent play from its guards throughout the summer. Jamon Hawkins, Tee Farley and Derrick Henry provided a spark from all over the court.
Center Chuck Edwards became a force on the boards, while Jared Mann also provided help on the glass and scoring.
Other key players included J.T. Turner, Brandon Carlton, Windell Darrington, Tyree Williams, Demetrius McCray, Quay Jackson and Akeel Shepherd.
"We are really looking forward to the season next fall," Rasmussen said. "The games we played this summer were good preparation for the tough region (2-AAAAA) in which we play. It should be a really exiting season starting with the showcase in Tennessee, then the North Gwinnett Christmas Tournament and finally the Region Tournament in February in our gym."
Without a doubt, Rasmussen and company will continue to 'play like a Ram, and be Ram tough.'