If all-region selections are an indicator of how well Newton County’s basketball teams should do in this week’s region tournaments, then the county has a lot to look forward to on championship Monday.
Eastside guard Treyvon Francis led seven Newton County first-team all-region players this weekend, earning the Region 8-AAAA Player of the Year Award after the Eagles finished the 2013-2014 season with an unblemished 8-0 mark in region action.
Teammate Anthony Henderson joined his fellow Eagle on the Region 8-AAAA first team, while Zaria Barton and Jymara Smith earned first-team accolades for the Lady Eagles.
In Region 2-AAAAAA., Jalen Glover earned the lone first team nod for the Newton Rams, while Precious Price and Deandra Reed secured first-team honors for the Lady Rams after going a perfect 12-0 in region play.
In the Eagles’ 23 games this season, Francis totaled 403 points, scoring an average of 17.5 points per game. The senior guard averaged 6.4 assists per game and grabbed almost four rebounds per contest, while shooting 66 percent from the field this season.
Along with his assist totals, Francis showed the most improvement behind the 3-point line, shooting 60 percent from behind the arc while shooting a solid 80 percent from the charity stripe.
Eastside coach Gregory Freeman said at the start of the season that he believed Francis was the best guard in the state and so far this season, the senior has proven him right.
“Both guys are very deserving of the honors they have received,” Freeman said. “Treyvon Francis is simply one of the best point guards in the state of Georgia, and Anthony Henderson epitomizes hard work and models it every day, both on and off the court.”
Joining Francis on the region first-team list, Henderson averaged 11.9 points per game this season for Eastside while hauling in five rebounds a game. Freeman called Henderson a “naturally scoring guard,” and the senior lived up to that hype this season, shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc while hitting 94 total field goals for a 53 percent shooting percentage.
Barton and Smith gave the Lady Eagles a pair of first-team selections, as the duo took on much of the scoring load for Eastside this season.
In 24 regular season games, Barton scored 231 points, while Smith scored 228. They combined for just under 40 percent of the Lady Eagles’ scoring load this season.
Dashantra Kelly and Adrianna Spears earned Region 8-AAAA honorable mention accolades for the Lady Eagles.
Region 2-AAAAAA honors
In Region 2-AAAAAA, three Newton County players earned first-team honors, while Alcovy sent a pair of players to the all-region accolades lists.
Glover earned the Rams' lone first-team selection after helping the Rams to a 19-6 regular season record. The senior averaged 15 points, 2.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 6.3 rebounds per game this season.
Junior D.J. Hill and freshman Darvin Jones also received all-region selections, with Hill earning second-team honors and Jones grabbing honorable mention accolades. Hill averaged 12.1 points, 6.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds this season, while Jones average 10 points and three rebounds in his first year with the Rams.
“I am proud of our players who made all-region,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. “Having three players make it is representative of the hard work or our entire team. Jalen Glover was one of only three players in the entire region who made it two years in a row.
“D.J. Hill was the top point guard selected, which is a big honor, and for Darvin Jones to be selected as the only (underclassman) is a testament to how rare it is for a freshman to be starting for us and averaging in double figures on top of that,” he said.
Rasmussen said he fought for the inclusion of senior Taylor Hawkins, who played a key role on defense for a Newton program that surrendered an average of just 46.6 points per game.
“I was disappointed that Taylor Hawkins was not selected, as he is arguably the best perimeter defender in our region,” Rasmussen said. “If any team would have had four players make it, he would have been our fourth. Regardless, all of our players who were selected should be proud of making the team and deserved it. Without our team's commitment and success, we would not have had three players make it.”
The Lady Rams sent four players to the all-region lists, with Price and Reed earning first-team selections while Sonia Forney and Cynteria Langhorne earned nods on the region’s second team.
One of the most effective scorers in the region, Price led Newton with 330 points, averaging 13 points per game while scoring 43 3-pointers. Price shot 75 percent at the free-throw line while helping the Lady Rams breeze through region play to an undefeated region record.
Reed, who broadened her game this season from an outside shooter to all-around scoring threat, scored 192 points for Newton, connecting on 33 3-pointers.
“I am ecstatic for my players,” Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said. “They have worked hard. I am sure it's rewarding for them to see that other coaches have taken notice. Deandra has come a long way since her freshman year. She was shy, but now has become our vocal leader on the floor. Her inside/outside skills make her hard to guard.
“To be honest, I am disappointed that Precious did not get Player of the Year,” she said. “I think she has proven herself the past four years. She has led us to a 12-0 record in the region. However, it's not up to me. The region coaches felt different. She was voted No. 2. Precious is a threat from anywhere on the floor (and) she has done well as a leader and captain of the team.”
Johnson added that Forney and Langhorne contributed mightily in the post this season, anchoring Newton’s front line.
“Sonia is hard worker who is always ready at game time,” Johnson said. “She has followed in her big sister’s footsteps … Cynteria has become a part of our energy on the floor. Her hustle plays have created several opportunities for us on the floor. ''
Alcovy had two all-region selections including the Lady Tigers’ Tierra Hodges, who earned second-team accolades as a sophomore, and Cameron Banks, who earned an honorable mention selection for the Tigers.