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Newton's season ends as Rams fall to McEachern in the Sweet Sixteen
Newton Boys Basketball Playoffs 2024
Newton senior Jabez Jenkins (10) takes a three-pointer over McEachern's Nnadozie Onyirimba (30) in the Rams' matchup with the Indians in the Sweet Sixteen of the Class AAAAAAA playoffs. - photo by Garrett Pitts

POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. — The 2023-24 season for Newton boys basketball came to an end Saturday night. The defeat came on the road against the McEachern Indians in the Sweet Sixteen of the Class AAAAAAA playoffs.

In a game that went down to the wire, 33 points from Indians star Ace Bailey proved to be the decider.

After trailing for the entire contest, Bailey had the ball in the final seconds of the third quarter.

Bailey took the ball to half court before releasing a shot that landed straight into the net. The buzzer beater from Bailey gave McEachern its first lead of the day at 47-46.

After the contest, Newton head coach Barry Browner spoke about the challenges that Bailey posed for his squad.

“Ace Bailey is a pro,” Browner said. “He is tough to guard. The rebounding situation — we just got out-rebounded. They are a tough team, we just did not capitalize on missed opportunities.”

Despite the Indians holding the momentum going into the final frame after the buzzer beater, Newton did not go down without a fight.

In the opening minute of the fourth quarter, Rams’ senior Jabez Jenkins grabbed a loose ball out of Bailey’s hands, which caused him to crash to the ground.

Jenkins then passed it over his shoulder to fellow senior Tay Jeffries on the fast break, who put up the layup to give the advantage back to the Rams.

However, late in the frame, two baskets from the Indians gave McEachern the room it needed.

A contested layup from Bailey, followed by a three-pointer from Wesley Minto put the Indians ahead of the Rams at 59-54 with two minutes left.

In the remaining 120 seconds of the game, Newton pulled within three points after Jefferies knocked down a pair of free throws, but it was not enough to defeat the Indians.

Trailing by six in the final moments, a deep three at the buzzer from KJ White cut the McEachern winning deficit down to 67-64 as the Indians came away with the win in the Sweet Sixteen.

The contest was tight through and through, but an opening scoring barrage from Newton titled the game early.

In the opening frame, Newton’s Tim Prather knocked down all four of his attempts in what turned out to be a 12-point quarter for the junior.

In his final game as a Newton Ram, Jenkins led the team with 17 points. 

Prather and White followed with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

In Browner’s first year as Newton’s head coach, the Rams finished with a 20-6 record while going 7-3 in Region 4-AAAAAAA play.

Following a season in which Newton lost Stephon Castle, Jakai Newton and MJ Whitlock, Browner spoke about the impact that his three current seniors had filling those roles.

“AJ, Tay and Bez — they were great leaders. Anytime you have a coaching change, it is hard. They accepted me, we were all together. They were great leaders, we are going to miss those guys in the locker room.”

Newton will return in the 2024-25 season with players such as Prather, Ted Neal, Zach Harden and Jordan Green.