As the NCAA basketball season winds down and the NBA enters its final push to the postseason, local hoops seem like a distant memory. Not to fear. High school basketball fans get one last look at their favorite senior players.
Players from Heritage, Rockdale and Salem high schools will join forces to represent Newton County as they look to upend a Newton
County contingent comprised of seniors from Newton, Alcovy and Eastside high schools. The game is set for April 16 at Newton High.
As part of the festivities, players will compete in a slam dunk and 3-point contest before tip off. In an added twist, organizers have requested the GHSA allow for a college format game with two 20-minute halves.
Newton coach Rick Rasmussen, who will coach the Newton All-Stars as a result of winning the unofficial county championship,
said he expects there to be plenty of friendly competition amongst the three schools.
"I think it will be a fun to see how the players from each of the three schools of each county can gel together instead of always just playing each other in rivalry games," he said. "This is one of those things a person would have wondered about and now they'll get to see. It's like, what if we only had one high school again? How good would our team be? I guess we'll kind of get to see, although we'll only have seniors."
Rasmussen said Alcovy coach Eugene Brown threw out the idea and it went from there. As the coach whose team ended the season with the most head-to-head wins, Rasmussen gets this year's honor. The Rams went 4-0 against the other two schools. But both Brown and Michael Gerald of Eastside are expected to participate.
Rockdale County will be led by Rockdale head coach Alvin Williams. Williams, who took over for Mitch Harris who lasted one year
on the Bulldog's bench, finished 4-0 against Heritage and Salem. The Bulldogs were 20-9 overall.
Rasmussen, a basketball purist on every level, is ready for the opportunity to work with such a diverse group. While the game is aimed to be enjoyable, he said it will be a great opportunity for players to catch the
eye of college scouts one last time.
"I am looking forward to getting back in the gym and seeing what type of all-star team we can put together in just a few days," he said. "Both coach [Alvin] Williams and I have agreed to only practice the three days prior to the game, so we'll justput together a few things and then let the kids go out and showcase their abilities."
Rosters are no yet set, nor are the entries for the slam dunk and 3-point contests. Rasmussen said both coaches will release them soon. With county bragging rights in the bag for another eight months, Rasmussen admits he will approach the game different from say, a region matchup against Redan. But make no mistake about it, he wants to win.
"We will figure out what are starting five will be and then figure out fair substitution patterns so all the kids can get some playing time," he said. "Since I am hoping to have the game be two 20-minute halves, like college, there will be more playing time for everyone. But after a while, we'll still try to put the best team on the floor when crunch time comes."
The event begins at 6 p.m. and tipoff is at 7. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children under 10. College scouts get in for free.
Check back next week for rosters and an in-depth preview of the game