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PREP BASKETBALL: Newton ready to 'forget' quirky clock game with Grayson as South Gwinnett game approaches
Armani Harris
The likelihood of Newton moving on past Lambert will be determined on how well senior power forward Armani Harris. -photo by Anthony Banks

COVINGTON, Ga. — Rick Rasmussen and his No. 6 Newton Rams are probably chomping at the bit to get back onto the court and play another game Friday when South Gwinnett comes to town. 

Part of that is, no doubt, because of the frustrations encountered when Newton hosted No. 2 Grayson in a game where Newton was looking for a little pay back.  

Instead, it was Grayson holding on for a 70-61 in a Region 8-AAAAAAA game that felt off for Newton even before the opening tip.

Clock malfunctions led to the entire game being hand-timed, and although Newton Rams head coach Rick Rasmussen does not view the issue as an excuse, he does believe it got into his team’s psyche.

“It didn’t feel like a normal game from the beginning,” Rasmussen said. “The clock situation took the air out of our sails for some reason. It was just so awkward. That’s not an excuse at all for how we played once the clock started, but guess what, the clock never started.”

Clock malfunction or not, the Newton offense was stagnant at best in the first half, and getting shots to fall was a huge struggle as the team shot 20% from the field and only had three players registering a point. 

It was a struggle all around for Newton, and whenever it seemed to get any tiny bit of momentum going, something like an errant pass or an untimely foul would stifle it.

On the other hand, Grayson seemed to be in full control from the time it took the lead early on in the first quarter, building a huge double-digit halftime advantage. It all ended up being too much for Newton to overcome. 

The Rams of Grayson had multiple scorers and were able to spread out their attack. Jevon Tatum was the star of the night, pouring in a team-high 27 points, while 4-star guard prospect Devion Smith finished with 17 points. 

Newton had a much different night on offense as it relied heavily on the scoring ability of two players, Tre Clark and Armani Harris.

Clark finished as the team’s leading scorer, tying Grayson’s Tatum for game-high with 27 points, but even he struggled to get going early on in the game. Harris, who finished with 23 points and eight rebounds, was deemed as one of the main bright spots of the game by coach Rasmussen and his bounce-back performance following a tough night last Saturday against Eastside was noted.

 “I thought he played well,” Rasmussen said. “I thought he was the most consistent player. He was banging and trying and being aggressive and rebounding.”

With Harris and Clark accounting for 50 of the team’s 61 points, the offensive struggles were very evident, but Rasmussen had his focus set on other areas that need improvement for the Rams when asked what he believed the team needed to do moving forward. 

“Get the clock fixed and forget about it.” said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen and his Rams will face a solid South Gwinnett squad Friday night that will be coming off the good vibes of a 51-39 region win against Rockdale Tuesday night. The Comets battled Newton to a 61-52 loss in the teams’ first game back on December 7.