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NewRock all-star basketball game caps highlight filled season
Eastside boys basketball coach Brent Wren, right, shares a lighthearted moment with former Eastside and Newton player Isaiah Miller in the waning moments of a Newton-Rockdale All-Star basketball game played couple of years ago. Wren passed away Friday morning after a battle with stomach cancer. File Photo

CONYERS, Ga. — The three high school boys basketball teams from both Newton and Rockdale counties, came together in the senior vs. senior NewRock All-Star Game Wednesday night at Rockdale High School.

It was an event that included a boys and girls three-point contest, a dunk contest and an all-star game that was flooded with talent showcasing the best of their abilities, including a game-high 40 point performance from Newton senior J.D. Notae, most likely playing for the final time in his Newton high school uniform. 

The two teams were made up of standout players from each county pitted against each other to give area bragging rights. And it was the Newton County team that came away with a 111-97 win in the all-star game. 

For Newton County coach Brent Wren, it was the perfect, lighthearted, yet meaningful way to put a cap on the 2016-17 basketball season. 

“It’s full circle,” Wren said. “A lot of these kids I’ve known them since they were little coming up through middle school and high school, just following them. It’s a pleasure to see what these kids have grown into and blossomed into from when they were 4-foot-2 and 100 pounds, to what they are now. We competed against these guys from Heritage and Rockdale, Conyers in middle school, and they’re all just great kids. We love them all. A great way to cap the season.”

The event began with the three-point contest in which Niasia Bryant from Rockdale dominated, taking home the girls award. This was followed by another impressive performance in the boys contest, when, after a close semifinals round between Rockdale’s  Tre Brown and Eastside’s TJ Bush the two advanced to the finals where Bush would take control early and not let up to take home the boys three-point contest crown. 

Next was the slam dunk contest, which generated the most excitement over the crowd, as Newton’s Isaiah Miller and Heritage’s Isaiah Banks faced off in the finals. 

Fans began leaving their seats to move closer to the court for the much anticipated showdown between two of the most electrifying dunkers in the state. 

Miller started the contest by jumping over another player for a dunk that generated a ten from all four judges. Then Banks, who made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays with a backboard shattering dunk during a game in Augusta earlier in the season, would respond with a 180 one-handed dunk of his own. 

In the finals, Miller brought the crowd to its feet with a baseline dunk where he put the ball between his legs while in the air that gave him another perfect score. 

Banks countered by having someone throw the ball down from the gym balcony for him to catch high off the bounce for a one-handed slam that sent the crowd into a frenzy, and both men to a sudden death dunk-off. 

Banks would go first this time starting with a windmill dunk over a teammate that would ultimately crown him the winner as Slam Dunk Contest champion after Miller could not get his shot through in time. 

The excitement was only just beginning, though. 

In a game where not much defense was played to allow players to show off their skills, the NewRock All-Star game itself was filled with a plethora of exciting highlights which garnered ear splitting crowd reactions for much of the game.

The game started fast paced for the first ten minutes of action before the Rockdale team went on a near four minute scoring drought that would allow the Newton team to jump out to a seven point lead before a quick attack from the county duo of Notae and Keiodre Perry. That extended Newton County’s lead to 14, ending the half with a score of 59-45. 

The second half would provide more of the same with an intense back-and-forth barrage of dunks and three pointers, including four from Notae who would ultimately become the All-Star game’s MVP. after his stellar performance.  

With 3:52 left in the game, Salem’s Kendrick Harris delivered a four point play that consisted of a plethora of shake-and-bake dribble moves that shook off Perry who was guarding him. Once Harris nailed the three from the top of the key, fans flooded the court as if a team had won a national championship.  

 However, Perry would respond with a dunk against (number 22) that would generate the same reaction. The game would ultimately end there with Newton taking the winafter officials deemed the court rushing a safety concern. 

In an event full of great basketball, highlight plays and great competitiveness, the coaches from all six area schools successfully gave these seniors one last chance to compete with and against each other.

“A lot of these kids from both counties play on the same AAU teams, or play against each other on rivalry teams,” Wren said. “But it’s great. Newton County is a hot bed for basketball talent. I’m going to miss the memories behind all of this. There’s a specific love and nostalgia behind all these players, and you fall in love with what they do on the floor and off of it. 

“I really love ‘em and wish them the best. I’m going to try and keep in touch with each of these guys as much as possible.”