We’re at the midway point of the regular season of high school basketball as the amount of region games increase and playoff seeding takes shape. Here’s a look at the power rankings for teams in Newton County as they stand.
- Newton High School basketball: The strong finish in last year’s playoffs carried over into this season for the Rams, off to a 9-2 start. Freshman Ashton Hagans has taken over the reigns as Newton’s starting point guard. Hagans is a crafty pass-first option as the lead guard but he’s stealthy enough to score 20 or 30 points if the Rams need him to. Janaud “JD” Notae leads Newton in scoring flanked by Jaquan Simms. Usual starting guard Darvin Jones hasn’t played a minute on the court for Newton yet and he’s expected back in January to join a deep rotation that includes sophomore Deandre Butler, rim-protecting junior Josh Tukes, Dante Johnson, Chaz Tanner and Colby Rogers. Newton has a couple high-profile wins on its resume with wins against Berkmar and Cedar Shoals, but did lose two one-point games against Tucker and Henry County, a top 10 team in Class AAAA. The Rams have yet to get over the hump that is Tucker, but this could be the year Newton beats the Tigers in a region championship.
- Eastside high school: Invigorated by the up-tempo offense of new coach Brent Wren, the Eagles are scoring in bunches and it’s led to a 12-2 start while sporting an 11-game winning streak to begin the season including a perfect 6-0 in Region 4-AAAA. In all 12 of their wins, the Eagles have scored over 70 points adding two 100-point-plus games in the process. Junior guard Isaiah Miller is leading the team in scoring with over 20 points per game. Keondre Perry and Joshua Cammon round out Eastside’s “big three” as they space the floor with their excellent shooting ability. Eastside’s lone weakness this season has been the team’s defense. Although they’ve scored a lot, the Eagles have also given up a lot of points to teams that aren’t talented enough to score big against them. Another weak spot for the team is its lack of depth. Outside of backup guard Josh Wilson the Eagles don’t have a lot of depth, but they’ve been able to win games because of how talented their starters are. Eastside is a dangerous team and they are a legitimate threat to win a region championship so far this season.
- Alcovy high school: A region title wasn’t a realistic goal for the Tigers coming off a winless season, which is why head coach Mack Hardwick tempered expectations for his team coming into the season. This is a rebuilding year for the Tigers as they focus on growing the team from the ground up and teaching fundamentals to build a winning club. Still, the Tigers have managed two wins this season and have been a more competitive team than they were last year. The Tigers aren’t likely going to compete for a playoff spot, but they will continue to nurture their young talent and hopefully in a season or two the Tigers will be contenders again.
- Newton: At 9-3 (1-1, Region 2-AAAAAA) the Lady Rams are once again one of the top teams in Region 2-AAAAAA. Newton is loaded with talented players — from sophomore leading scorer Alexcia Chatman to newcomer Janelle Cook — so much so that the Lady Rams haven’t yet figured out the rotations that work like a well-oiled machine. Still, half of the team’s wins have been by double digits and wins against talented teams like North Oconee and Luella show how good Newton can be. After leading Tucker up until the third quarter, the Lady Rams lost by 12. Newton came within six points of Americus-Sumter at Philips Arena after trailing by 20-plus, but Sumter pulled away. Newton hasn’t shown that capability to come back and win fourth quarters just yet, and it’s something they’ll have to work on, along with the fact Newton’s offense can be sporadic at times, but that goes with the fact that head coach Tiffani Johnson is still tinkering with lineups. The Lady Rams are still figuring out their team and they need a little time to gel and see which lineups work best. Tucker should hope that they don’t figure it out before the region tournament.
- Alcovy high school: As long as it has Tierra Hodges, Alcovy will always be relevant in girls basketball. Hodges is a walking double-double and a threat from almost everywhere on the court. She hasn’t yet found a Supergirl to her Wonder Woman, but she’s more than enough to carry this team to another playoff trip. Head coach Kevin Furtado allows his team to play in the open court, which helps because of the turnover’s Alcovy’s stifling defense forces. The defense is the team’s bread and butter, and the offense is mostly Hodges. Outside of her, Alcovy’s offense needs improvement, but anybody could be the second best player that night. Quantasia Perry, Kai Patterson and Amari Montgomery have all been the second-leading scorers for Alcovy and they all play tenacious defense. Despite relying primarily on Hodges, Alcovy’s offense has been a bright spot this season. Hodges gets her 20-plus and there is a balanced scoring attack behind her to even out the offense. Alcovy will play defense and Hodges will get buckets those two things are certain, but the heights the Lady Tigers inevitably reach will depend on how good the supporting cast is.
- Eastside high school: It’s been a long season for the Lady Eagles, and it’ll only get longer as they continue to rely on their young sophomores and senior guard Tierra Brown, the team’s leading scorer. The Lady Eagles are 2-9 and winless in region play. They have six sophomores on the team and four seniors, who other than Brown, have little varsity experience. Eastside lost a talented senior class from last year on a team that was a win or two away from making the playoffs. Some of the players are still gun-shy when in it comes to shooting in new coach Gladys King’s motion offense. King wants her players to shoot more and take the load off Brown. King is trying to develop her sophomores for the future while still giving them a chance to win now, which is a tough task. The Lady Eagles will miss the playoffs unless they turn things around, an unlikely outcome, but they’ll be much better in the future.