By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
HOOPS PREVIEW: Newton ready to roll with high aspirations
Jakai Newton (10) soars over head coach Charlemagne Gibbons and dunks in Newton’s preseason dunk contest on Thursday, Nov. 4. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

COVINGTON, Ga. — Entering 2021, the Newton Rams and head coach Charlemagne Gibbons have yet to adopt a theme for the upcoming season. 

But there is a central message being preached at Rams practice: consistency. 

Gibbons and his staff stressed how being inconsistent last year cost them some crucial games. This year, that can no longer be an excuse. 

“If you go back and look, last year, we had some pretty big wins over some really good competition. Then, you saw some bad losses against similar competition,” Gibbons said. “We were a very young team last year, but the training wheels are off. So, we don’t have any reason now why we can’t be a top level team.” 

The 2020 season ended for Newton in the Sweet 16 round of the state playoffs with an 87-59 loss to Pebblebrook. The Rams finished with a 14-9 overall record and went 6-3 in Region 4-AAAAAAA, which gave them region runner-up. 

It’s no secret that the Rams return some stellar talent, but the consistency hasn’t arrived yet. That’s primarily been the focus this offseason. 

According to Gibbons, that’s the difference between his team being one of the best to one of the worst teams. 

Couple the inconsistency with a key loss in TJ Clark, Newton will be seeking a player or two to step up and lead the team. 

Clark was a vocal leader in the locker room for the Rams last year. Now Gibbons is looking for the next leader. 

There are already a couple of candidates, too. 

Stephon Castle, a junior point guard has shown strides to taking the reigns of the team. Senior Mio Kaye Grant has impressed his head ball coach, too, leading in his final season at Newton. 

Be that as it may, Gibbons wants the team to use its greatest strength of playing together and as one. He said, if they accomplish that, they can make some noise toward the end of the season. 

“We’ve got a really good team with a lot of talent,” Gibbons said. “So some nights it’s going to be different guys who step. Having teammates who support that is a big thing. We don’t necessarily always have that in today’s society and in sports.”