LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Up until Friday night, the Newton Rams have played shorthanded. Their 4-star combo guard, Jakai Newton had been out rehabbing a knee injury for nine months.
Newton's hiatus ended on Friday when the Rams traveled to Archer to down the Tigers 65-55.
Though Newton didn't have a spectacular game for his standards, his 12 points might have been what sparked the Rams' comeback on the road.
Experiencing live action for the first time his senior season was humbling.
"I'm just blessed to be back on the court," Newton said. "It's been a long process of rehabbing and just trying to stay positive mentally. I still have to get my feel for the game back but that'll come with time."
Amid his rehab, Newton signed his national letter of intent with Indiana basketball on
While Newton has been working on his return to the court, he's been courtside cheering his teammates on.
But his seat on Friday was much better than being subject to the sideline.
Actually, Newton highlighted one of the top things that had him on the edge of his seat to return.
"I missed competing the most," Newton said. "Just going out there and hooping, and being the best that I can be."
Friday's win helps the Rams improve to 15-7 overall and 7-1 in Region 4-AAAAAAA, which reaffirms their top spot in the standings.
The Rams sweep Archer in their regular season series, too, and are currently on a four-game win streak.
Now, they'll hit the road to face Wheeler High School in a ESPN televised event on Monday at 7 p.m. Then the Rams return home looking to avenge their lone region loss against Parkview on Tuesday.
Finally, the regular season finale will be at Grayson — a team Newton defeated at home on Jan. 24, 54-43.
When asked how his injury affected his desire to help the Rams achieve their ultimate goal of a state title, Newton was straight to the point.
"The nine months I've been out has given my body the rest that I needed," Newton said. "But how much I want to win doesn't change. The goal was to win before I got hurt and it still is."