COVINGTON, Ga. -- Both Newton Rams basketball teams will tip off for the first time this season on Thursday Nov. 9 in exhibition home games against the girls and boys teams from Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy.
The girls are set to tip off at 5:30 p.m., with the boys following immediately after.
The ELCA boys will come to Newton ranked No. 3 in the preseason Class A-Private rankings, according to sandysspiel.com, while the Newton Rams will start the season at No. 7 in Class AAAAAAA. A large part of that ranking, no doubt, has to do with the return of junior point guard, Ashton Hagans.
Hagans, a consensus five-star prospect and considered one of the top Class of 2019 players in the nation, decided to come back to Newton after a brief flirtation with Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. He’s the only returning starter for a Newton squad that finished 28-2 last season, after spending most of the year nationally ranked, yet falling to Class AAAAAAA state champion Tift County in the Elite Eight round of the state tournament.
ELCA boasts the sizable presence of 6-foot-7 forward, Malachi Rhodes on a team that went 20-7 last season.
Meanwhile, the Lady Rams find themselves the sixth-ranked team in Class AAAAAAA after returning all but two players from last year’s Region 8-AAAAAAA runner-up squad. The Newton girls saw their season abruptly halted by an upstart Duluth squad that knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs at home.
Check out full team profiles in our special 2017-18 basketball preview sports section this Sunday.
Seniors Lexi Chatman, last year’s 2016-17 girls Player of the Year for The Covington News, and Jurnee Smith are among the Lady Rams’ top returning players for a 20-7 team that finished second to Archer in region play.
After the ELCA preseason matchup, both the boys and girls squads will open the season on the road at North Oconee on Nov. 14.