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Newton hoopsters enjoy night out in Athens
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For most high school students, the Thanksgiving break means a time to relax, unwind and eat lots of food. Little thought is given to school or anything associated with it.

That is unless you play sports and your season opener is only days away, as is the case with the Newton High School boys basketball team.

With their first game quickly approaching on Tuesday against Jackson, the Rams were not able to relax much over the break. They could be found in the gym every day (except Thanksgiving Day) working, working and working some more.

However, all of their hard work did not go unnoticed as the coaching staff planned a little outing for the team based on its hard work.

Last Tuesday's practice went as normal; that is until the end of the day when the Rams loaded up into a caravan and headed for Athens.

In a busman's holiday of sorts they were going to watch the University of Georgia basketball game against Elon University.

But what night wouldn't be complete without a trip to The Varsity?

The entire group enjoyed the unparalleled cuisine of the world's largest drive-in restaurant, dining on such delights as chili dogs, double cheeseburgers, onion rings and more.

It was then time to head to Stegeman Coliseum. Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen had made arrangements with the UGA staff for tickets to the game. The Rams were pleasantly surprised as they kept walking closer and closer to the floor before settling in their seats at courtside.

UGA appeared to overmatch the smaller Elon squad and threatened to make a rout of the game with an early run; however, the Bulldogs were unable to put Elon away until the end, 76-65.

It was a good learning process for the Rams as they watched college teams miss free throws and commit turnovers - two things you cannot do to be successful. Fundamentals and discipline would continue to be the theme for the Rams when they returned to practice the next day. A good time was had by all, but this was not the first extracurricular activity for some of the Rams.

Former Newton standout Rashad Gill now plays basketball for the University of North Carolina at Asheville. During the second weekend in November, Rasmussen and assistant coach Joseph Adams took several players to Asheville to watch and support their former teammate.

One of Gill's teammates, Kenny George, holds the distinction of being the world's tallest basketball player. He stands at 7-foot-7, weighs 360 pounds and wears a size 28 shoe. (The height is a luxury Rasmussen will not have this season, as his tallest player is 14 inches shorter.)

Gill gave his former teammates the grand tour of the campus and they were able to get a feel for what college life is like.

In addition, the Rams also got the opportunity to watch a high school game featuring one of the top ranked high school teams in the country.

This group of Newton players has become a tight knit group. They get along well on and off the court, and their hard work at practice has been recognized.

Only time will tell if they can parlay that into success among the standings.