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HOOPS PREVIEW: Newton girls basketball begins building championship culture
The Lady Rams have been working toward one common goal: building a championship culture. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

COVINGTON, Ga. — New players and a new head coach will be featured during the Newton Lady Rams’ upcoming season. Jawan Bailey, who was named the Lady Rams’ head coach on May 10, has taken the reins of the girls basketball program along with a few different faces. 

Throughout the offseason since Bailey’s arrival, Newton has been working hard developing a team camaraderie. Getting the whole team on the same page is just one step toward the ultimate goal Bailey wants his team to accomplish in year one. 

“We want to start building a championship culture,” Bailey said. “We want to make sure we’re working like a championship team, we’re talking to each other like a championship team and treating everything like a championship program would.” 

So far in his new position, Bailey sees a lot of similarities between Newton and his former school, Josey. 

Bailey takes over after 18-year veteran head coach Tiffani Johnson stepped down from the helm. Johnson is an alumna of Newton just like Bailey is an alumnus of Josey. 

Knowing the pride Johnson has in her, Bailey has taken great pride in following in Johnson’s footsteps. 

“Coming here, it felt like I was taking over the program I just left,” Bailey said.  “And I approached it that way. I was like, ‘If somebody was coming in to take the job I just left, how would they go about it? And that’s what I’m trying to do here. I want to make sure I give the program the care and passion it needs.” 

Bailey has taken on that notion full blast in his approach to leading the Lady Rams. 

Even though this year’s team is young, Bailey has set high expectations for the upcoming season. 

“I have high demands and I expect them to hold each other accountable to those demands,” Bailey said. “And it can definitely be a culture shock if they’re not used to it.”

There have been some players who have taken on the challenge to meeting those high demands, too. 

Derrinique White, Tania Bailey, Allisa Sandifer, Chastity Tavares and Zoei Whitehead were mentioned by Bailey as players for fans to keep an eye out for. 

The Lady Rams’ season begins Nov. 17 at home against Mays. And, according to Bailey, Newton girls basketball is ready to hit the ground running. 

“I’ve seen many of these kids go from, ‘I don’t believe we can do something,’ to, ‘We got this,” Bailey said. “The talent is there, the work ethic is there and we’re working to get the culture there. And I think the sky’s the limit if we keep pushing forward.”