COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton’s boys basketball team was firing on all cylinders Saturday afternoon at home en route to a 73-51 victory over Pebblebrook in the second round of the Class AAAAAAA playoffs..
With the win, Newton will now advance to the Elite Eight once again, keeping alive its hopes for a state championship.
After the game, head coach Charlemagne Gibbons was certain of one thing for his team’s performance.
"This is the first time y'all actually saw our basketball team this year," Gibbons said. "You saw a group of guys who complete each other."
Most of the Rams' damage was done from behind the arc. At game's end, Newton connected on 14 three-pointers.
There seemed to be an extra surge by the Rams, though, coming out of the halftime break.
In the first five minutes of the third quarter, Newton went on a 14-0 scoring run. Sparking the run
was Jakai Newton who drilled the first three-pointer of the half with Marcus Whitlock not too far behind. At the 6:04 mark, Stephon Castle scored three points the hard way with an and-1 opportunity he converted at the free throw line.
Castle buried a three-pointer himself 30 seconds later to increase Newton's 38-25 halftime advantage to 52-25.
The Rams’ urgency came from something Gibbons said to them in the locker room at the intermission.
"I challenged them to not let [Pebblebrook] get back in the game," Gibbons said. "They met the challenge physically and we are a really good team when the shot-making ability is there."
Whitlock led all scorers with 26 points, which featured six three-pointers. Castle had 22 points, too, along with Newton’s 11.
Jabez Jenkins, Ashton Pennamon and Tim Prather each contributed a three-pointer to the team’s total as well.
The Rams never let up down the stretch and now have their sights set on the Elite Eight.
Newton will play No. 1 seed Norcross (25-4) in a rematch of last year’s Class AAAAAAA Final Four tussle — a game which the Rams lost 75-72.
Gibbons mentioned how, no matter the opponent, he foresees a tough contest in the Rams' battle between them and the Final Four.
"It's AAAAAAA basketball," Gibbons said. "I just look at who's next, because you never know who comes out of that game. The only thing I know is we'll be there."