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Newton boys basketball advances to Sweet Sixteen against Hoyas
MJ Whitlock
Marcus Whitlock (22) goes up for a dunk against Harrison Tuesday night. - photo by Anthony Banks | The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton Rams took down the Harrison Hoyas 68-57 in round one of the Class AAAAAAA playoffs Wednesday night at home. 

Newton came into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAAAAA after losing to Grayson in the region championship game.

The Rams were without senior guard Jakai Newton for their first round matchup, but that didn’t stop Stephon Castle from stealing the show when the ball was in his hands. 

Castle got the Rams going early as the McDonald’s All-American used his size advantage to get to the rim with ease.

Even with Castle playing his best, the Hoyas kept it alive with their passing and mid-range shooting.

Head coach Charlemagne Gibbons felt the team did not play its best, particularly when it came to shooting and letting the Hoyas get close.

One key player for the Rams that made an impact off the bench was sophomore Tim Prather who was able to use his speed to get into the paint while also leaning on his three-point shot when the Rams needed it the most.

Despite Castle and others keeping the offensive pace, Harrison stayed within 10 points for the majority of the game, as it approached the final two quarters.

After the game, coach Gibbons did not shy away when it came to his thoughts about the Rams’ performance on Wednesday night.

“We won, I think that is what we did well,” Gibbons said. “We just got too emotional, and we let three to five possessions get away, and we let the other team get back into the game.”

The Rams pulled away in the final minutes of the fourth quarter  to avoid a first round scare.

Castle led the Rams in scoring with 31 points, while Jabez Jenkins finished with nine and Prather finished with eight.

As the Rams look ahead to round two over the weekend, coach Gibbons is looking for the right guys to step up when the Rams will need it the most.

“We just need five to six guys that can play, that is it,” Gibbons said. “As the rounds go on, the bench gets shorter and shorter.”

Newton will be on a quick turnaround. It will stay at home for the Sweet Sixteen when they take on the Pebblebrook Falcons Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. 

Pebblebrook (18-10 overall, 6-2 in region) is the No, 4 seed from Region 2-AAAAAAA.