The Newton Rams took state-ranked Westlake to the limit before falling by a single point following a controversial call on the last play of the game. It was a game that saw numerous lead changes and a margin of difference of never more than five points before ending at 46-45.
Newton coach Rick Rasmussen was not pleased with the outcome.
“It was a great game played by both teams. It’s too bad the players weren’t the ones who got to decide it,” he said.
The Rams had tied the score at 45-45 with approximately 15 seconds remaining. As time was winding down, Westlake guard Tony Bagtas tried to drive the lane at the other end. Newton forward Rashard Cabane set up perfectly to take a charge. After the contact the referee inexplicably waited seconds before blowing his whistle and awarded Bagtas two free throws with .5 seconds remaining. He made one of two and that was ballgame.
Newton’s defense was once again in the spotlight. Westlake came into the game averaging 70 plus points per game. The Rams held them to 25 points under their season average.
“Obviously the game was a defensive war,” added Rasmussen, “We like those types. We know that offense wins games but defense wins championships. We believe that will pay dividends for us at the end of the year.”
Newton only gives up 44 points a game average for the season, which is 10 points less than any other team in the region.
Offensively the Rams were led by Senior Center Shane Henry who finished the night with 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. He was backed up by Sophomore Jalen Glover who just missed a double/double of his own with 10 points and 9 rebounds as did Junior Rashard Cabane who chipped in 8 points and seven boards. “Shane keeps getting better and had a monster game for us tonight,” noted Rasmussen. “Jalen continues to improve and Rashard had a solid game tonight. Our guards struggled offensively, but that happens sometimes.
The loss dropped the Rams to 9-4 (2-3 Region 2-AAAAA) on the season as they now take to the road now for their next two games, travelling first to East Coweta on Friday night and then to Alcovy on Saturday. Although it was a bitter defeat, Coach Rasmussen was able to take some solace, “We played with great heart and intensity and obviously we can play with anyone. We have one of the top two regions in AAAAA in my opinion. Three teams from our region are ranked now and we took the first place team to the wire, so obviously we are right there as well. We will keep fighting and look forward to playing again.”