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Newton Rams basketball reigns supreme in Rams clash with Grayson
Jabez Jenkins (10) celebrates his and-1 down the stretch of the Newton Rams' 54-43 win over Region 4-AAAAAAA foe Grayson on Tuesday night at home. - photo by Garrett Pitts

COVINGTON, Ga. — Tuesday night's Newton-Grayson boys basketball game had the feeling of a heavyweight championship boxing match. It was punch, counterpunch for most of the night with neither team wanting to finish on the wrong end of a knockdown. 

But delivering the final blow was none other than Stephon Castle who helped allow the Rams to walk away with a 54-43 victory. 

Head coach Charlemagne Gibbons said the matchup against Grayson is the definition of a rivalry. 

“Rivalries are when two good programs are going up against each other,” Gibbons said. “In a game heated like that with a crowd that, I believe is the best in the state, I think we showed a lot of pride tonight and I’m really proud of them.” 

Castle — just hours removed from his selection to the 2023 McDonald's All-American game — stole the ball from Grayson in the closing minutes. On his pursuit to the basket, the 5-star UConn commit was fouled on his shot attempt that eventually went through the net. 

Castle's and-1 — he converted on the ensuing free throw attempt — sent Newton High's gymnasium into frenzy. Even the often lowkey, stoic Castle let out some rare emotion following the play. 

In spite of Castle’s display, Gibbons had a different take on his senior’s performance. 

“I thought you saw a relaxed version of him tonight,” Gibbons said. “And I said to him, ‘Hey, I know the past couple of weeks you’ve been pressing,’ But tonight he was so relaxed and poised.” 

The fans’ emotion was evident, too, because, not long after Castle’s dunk, Grayson fans were seen heading toward the exits. Meanwhile, the Rams’ student section and cheerleaders chanted, “NEWTON!” time and time again. 

At that point, the Rams led 49-39 with 2:24 left in the game. Newton went on a 9-4 scoring run to close Grayson out. 

Castle finished with a team-high 19 points, 13 of which came in the second half. 

But the senior combo guard didn't do it alone. 

Ashton Pennamon had a timely steal and layup and Jabez Jenkins capitalized on an and-1 opportunity himself. 

Sharp shooter Marcus Whitlock contributed 15 points as well along with Eastside transfer Timothy Prather's six. 

Newton's win snaps a two-game losing skid after losses against IMG Academy and Parkview — the first Region 4-AAAAAAA regular season loss the Rams have suffered in the last two seasons. 

It also helps place the Rams back atop the region standings with a 4-1 mark, tying them for first place with Grayson, but thanks to Tuesday night’s win, Newton owns the tiebreaker. 

Up next for Newton (12-8 overall) is a date at South Gwinnett (13-6, 2-2) on Friday, and it returns home next Tuesday against Brookwood (10-10, 0-5).
Gibbons even highlighted how crucial a tough schedule is for his team to play all year long. 

“One of the reasons why I came to Newton is because of the challenge of this region,” Gibbons said. “I love that, every night you look at the schedule, there’s somebody there that can challenge you. Every night, you have to be on your game and I think every night for the rest of the season is going to be a slugfest”