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PREP BASKETBALL: Juwan Johnson helps No. 3 Newton clinch top region's top seed
Senior Juwan Johnson sparked Newton in a rare starting role Tuesday night as the Rams toppled Shiloh, ensuring the No. 1 seed in the region tournament. - photo by Anthony Banks

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — The No. 3 Newton Rams are all alone atop the Region 8-AAAAAAA standings, thanks to a dominating 68-48 road route of Shiloh Tuesday night. 

The Rams were playing without starters Dre Butler and Tre Clark, but got a big night from senior Juwan Johnson who scored a game-high 19 points in the win, while Ashton Hagans added 12 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds, and Tyrease Brown added 12 points. 

In the “part two” battle of UGA commits, Hagans and Shiloh’s Elias King, Hagans got the best of the matchup as the Rams’ defense limited King to just six points, as he was shutout in the first and fourth quarters. King played just 14 minutes in the game.

The Rams improved to 21-3 overall and 8-1 in the region — a full two games ahead of second-place Grayson —  ahead of Friday night’s regular season finale with Archer. 

Newton coach Rick Rasmussen lauded the play of his unsung heroes from Tuesday night, particularly Johnson, who was aggressive from the start. 

“Juwan, on the first play of the game, he got a steal and a breakaway dunk that just got us going,” Rasmussen said. “He played well. We were down two starters, and Armani (Harris) was in foul trouble the whole with. But Ashton and Tyrease did what they do and Juwan played great.” 

After winning its 12th straight game, Newton has secured a first-round bye for the region tournament which begins Wednesday with first-round games set to tip off at 4 p.m. at Newton High. 

The sixth-ranked Lady Rams also handled business with a 64-47 win against the Lady Generals. A win Friday against Archer (12-12, 5-4) will ensure that the Lady Rams will finish atop the regular season region standings and get a first-round bye in the region tournament.