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NEWROCK SHOWCASE: Ranked Newton Rams teams push past Heritage
Ashton Hagans
Ashton Hagans. - photo by Tom White

Saturday turned out to be a smorgasbord of high school hoops action at the Newton High School gym, thanks to the first annual NewRock Basketball Showcase. 

The showcase pitted all six Georgia High School Association Schools from Newton and Rockdale counties in three sets of matchups between each girls and boys squad. What it was was 10 hours of local basketball action that climaxed with the No. 5 Newton boys and their nationally top-ranked point guard prospect, Ashton Hagans, putting on a show with the Heritage Patriots. 

Newton boys coach, Rick Rasmussen, said the event was well received by the community, and should build momentum as it continues. 

“Overall, I think the first ever NewRock Showcase was a tremendous success,” he said. “We had some entertaining games, and a big crowd and we’ll be looking forward to next season’s event at Rockdale High School’s gym.” 

Newton Girls Win Matchup Against Heritage to Remain Undefeated

COVINGTON, Ga. -- The Newton Lady Rams never allowed the Heritage Lady Patriots lead in game five of the NewRock Basketball Showcase. They defeated them 60-46.

Newton went on an early 14-2 run in the first quarter and the Patriots didn’t score their third point until a layup with 1:41 left in the quarter. The first quarter ended with 18-7.

Heritage finally reached double digits three minutes into the second quarter after a layup by Tamia Anderson. They went into halftime down 36-21.

Newton senior, Lexii Chatman led all scorers in the Rams' win over Heritage. - photo by Tom White

Not only did the Rams play fast, they also played great defense as they held Heritage to just three field goals in the third quarter.

Newton’s Lexii Chatman followed up her 35-point performance against Parkview earlier in the week with another monster night as she led all scorers with 17 points and went 4-for-4 from the line. Guards Je-nya and Jurnee Smith both followed behind with 10 points.

The Rams take on the Harrison Hoyas on Monday, Nov. 20 as they try to stay undefeated.

The Patriots will participate in a tournament on Friday, Nov. 24 at noon.

Ashton Hagans and Newton Rams Stay Undefeated Against Heritage Patriots

There was standing room only as the Newton Rams took on the Heritage Patriots in the last and premiere game of the NewRock Basketball Showcase.

Despite a hot shooting night by Heritage and an injury scare to one of the nation’s top point guards, it was the Rams taking home a 97-82 win.

Ashton Hagans tried to set the tone early with a clear-lane dunk but was stuffed at the rim and went down on his shooting wrist hard. He came out of the game shortly to get his wrist taped up, then made a beeline to the scorers table to be subbed back in. Hagans, who finished the game with 24 points, seven assists and three steals, admitted he was scared for a moment as he laid on the ground.

“I thought I was done, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “But i knew I had to go back because I’m the only returning starter, so I had to pick my guys up.”

He went right back in the game and scored three consecutive layups including one where he also drew a foul. Newton took an 11-8 lead in the first quarter.

The second quarter was nothing less than a shootout, and that's exactly what fans came to see in the first annual showcase event, says spectator Demetrius Holley, 21.

“I didn’t pay $10 to see a 20-point lead in the first,” Holley said. “I want to see these boys play ball.”

In fast paced action, one Ram would run down the court for a layup, then a Patriots player would run to the other side for a layup. Another Ram would get open for a mid-range floater and another Patriot would race back down for a pullup three-pointer to tie the game at 13 in the early moments of the second quarter.

Newton took the lead back after Juwan Johnson slashed through the lane for a layup to put his team up 15-13 in the second. On the next Newton possession, Hagans got fouled and made both free throws to put them up 17-13.

Hertiage forward Charles Harper got fouled and made both free throws to cut the lead to two. On the next possession, guard Ryan Clements flew down the court for a layup and foul. The Patriots took their first lead of the game 18-17 after Clements made his free throw.

They didn't keep that lead for long because Johnson finished a layup to bring the lead back to the Rams with a 19-18 at the 4:29 mark. That would prove to be the last lead change of the game.

Newton went into halftime on a 9-2 run that put them up 35-22. Hagans said head coach Rick Rasmussen just wanted his team to have fun.

“He told us to slow down, run through the sets, play our game and have fun,” Hagans said.

During the second half, the fifth-ranked Rams continued to pour on the points, getting looks at the top of the key but also at the baseline. Hagans was everywhere on the court and had a hand in every point his team scored, whether assisting, being a floor general or scoring. Hagans said he was a little concerned in the beginning of the game.

“We started out a little slow but we picked it up as we kept going,” he said.

Rasmussen said that he, while pleased with a win, he saw plenty of things his bunch needed to correct, particularly on defense.

“We have to step up defensively,” Rasmussen said. “Heritage got way too many uncontested shots and transition baskets. It is early, but we have a lot of work to do and a long way to go to get to where we want to be defensively.”

Newton's Tre Clark had a career high 20 points against Heritage in Saturday's NewRock Showcase game. - photo by Tom White

Rams guard Tre Clark chipped in with a career high 20 points on 2-of-6 shooting. Tyrease “UPS” Brown added 16 points including four three-pointers, and post players Dre Butler and Armani Harris contributed 14 and 10 points apiece.

Newton will try to remain undefeated as they go head-to-head with the undefeated Columbia Eagles on Friday, Nov. 24 and then against No. 10 Pebblebrook on the next day at the Holiday Hoopsgiving Showcase before coming home the following Tuesday to play Walnut Grove.

“With the tough schedule we have, we’d better step it up quickly if we want to compete at a high level,” Rasmussen said. “We need to play more maturely and just be more solid on both ends of the floor. We expect our players to be business-like in our approach, so obviously we need to make some adjustments going forward. We have only one returning starter, so we have some growing up to do.”

Heritage falls to 1-3 and will take on the Salem Seminoles (3-2) on Saturday, Dec. 2.