Newton High School’s elite eight matchup against Wheeler in the state basketball playoff tips off tonight at 7 p.m.
The game, originally scheduled for Wednesday night, was moved to Thursday after predictions of inclement weather. Newton High School also offered a fan bus to students for $10.
The Wheeler Wildcats, coached by Doug Lipscomb, are the top ranked team in the state by maxpreps.com, and No. 55 nationally after going 27-2 in 2014-15. The Wildcats only losses of the season were to West Linn, out of Oregon on Dec. 29 and to Bishop O'Dowd, out of Oakland, California, on Jan. 19.
Leading the way for Wheeler is the 6-foot, 6-inch Jaylen Brown. Brown is rated the No. 2 recruit in 2015 by ESPN, and is a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, North Carolina, Georgia and more.
Newton, ranked 36 in the state by maxpreps.com enters the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2011 after defeating Dacula 58-54 on Saturday. It was the second straight road upset for the fourth-seeded Rams, who beat top-seeded Tift County to open the 2014-15 state playoffs.
Newton led 12-8 after the first quarter and led 27-24 at halftime. Dacula evened it up at 40-40 after the third quarter after Newton led 37-31 mid third.
“They hit some tough shots on us,” Rick Rasmussen, Rams’ head coach, said. “They have several great guards. We had a game plan and did a good job of executing it most of the game.”
Dacula at line was 23/34 and Newton was 18/27.
“They had to foul us late and we made enough free throws down the stretch,” Rasmussen said. “10/16 in fourth. When they took their only lead since first quarter at 42-20, we responded with a left corner three by JaNaud Notae to take back the lead. We led from then on.”