There are several things in life that are certain: taxes, the sun setting in the West and the Newton Rams basketball team performing well at summer camp.
And this year was no exception, as the NHS hoopsters dispatched all takers with relative ease, posting a perfect 10-0 mark at Georgia College & State University.
Newton basketball head coach Rick Rasmussen was pleased with his team's work.
"It has been a great month," said Rasmussen. "The kids worked really hard and had a great time. They had great attitudes and bought in, and that is why we were successful. Everyone bonded together as a team, and hopefully in the fall we can pick up where we left off."
This was the ninth straight year that Rasmussen and the Rams have traveled to GC & SU for the camp, and the second consecutive year they have gone undefeated. Last summer, the team went 11-0, spring boarding them to their seventh 20-win season and state playoff appearance in the past nine years.
"Everything at Georgia College & State University is first class," praised Rasmussen. "The dorms are new and the cafeteria food is better than most restaurants. The competition is excellent as well."
All of the summer camp games were played on campus in the air-conditioned Centennial Center, and the Rams played five of their games on the home court of the Bobcats, which seats over 5,000 fans.
From the first day of summer practice, Rasmussen has stressed fundamentals, discipline and confidence. These attributes clearly came through for his team during the camp, as numerous compliments were paid to the team by spectators and opposing coaches.
The Rams averaged less than six turnovers a game throughout the camp and shot nearly 50 percent from the field. In fact, the GC & SU coaches wanted to know how Newton High School manages to have such good shooters year in and year out.
"We work on shooting everyday, and our guard play has always been very good," remarked Rasmussen. "We take pride in getting a good shot, not just throwing something up and hoping it goes in."
The Rams brought 10 players to camp, in which all of them made positive contributions on the court. They were led offensively by three returning players - senior Sean Monk, junior Jamon Hawkins and sophomore Tevin Bradley. Combined, they led the Rams in scoring, each averaging double figures in scoring.
Monk, the only returning starter from last season's state playoff team, had an outstanding camp and was noted by many as being the best player there.
Hawkins - who stepped up huge for the Rams during the region and state tournament - displayed his outstanding shooting ability, shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Bradley exhibited an aggression and intensity in the post that brought energy to the entire team.
"These three guys were awesome, and we hope they can do it again in November and beyond," stated Rasmussen.
Newton junior Tauris Farley handled the point and did a great job running the offense, while taking care of the ball.
"(Farley) plays his roll unselfishly," said Rasmussen, "and understands what we want him to do, as well as anybody on the team."
Entering the camp as a fifth starter, senior Montrell Grimes brought great athleticism and energy to the team; however, he suffered a minor concussion during the third game and had to sit out the remainder of camp.
Junior newcomer Demetrius McCray stepped in and provided a big boost on the boards, recording as many as 15 rebounds in one game. Senior Omar Crawley also provided an offensive spark for the Rams off the bench.
Freshman Derrick Henry was impressive off the bench, showing potential to be another great guard from Newton. Senior Ruben Hatchett provided a lift off the bench with his solid jump shot, while sophomore Charles Edwards provided size off the bench for the Rams.
Rasmussen added that new assistant coach Joseph Adams, who accompanied the Rams to camp, has become a valuable asset to the program.
"Most importantly, (Adams) is a man of integrity and faith," praised Rasmussen. "He is also loyal to our players and program, and is willing to put in the hard work it takes to be a successful coach."
The Newton basketball program has set the bar high with its tradition of success, and the 2007-08 season looks to be no different.
"It was a great way to end the summer," recollected Rasmussen. "Everyone played well together and found positive roles (which) helped to make our team successful. If we come back in the same frame of mind in the fall, we can have another successful season."