The Newton Rams made sure there would be no repeat of last year’s upset loss at Eastside Saturday. And they made it look easy.
The Rams outscored the Eagles 19-2 in the first quarter and held them to seven points in the first half en route to a 60-29 win.
Jalen Glover set the tone for Newton early on with seven points in the opening period and the Rams jumped out to a 12-0 lead before Eastside scored its first bucket. Glover, a sophomore, had a career-high 12 in just his third varsity start.
“He’d been doing really well on the JV and Jalen is another option for us as we are trying to become more well-rounded offensively,” Rasmussen said. “Jalen is a talent. He’s long and athletic and solid defensively and he rebounds well.
“We just decided after watching him fill it up in the JV games, it was time to end his JV career.”Newton took a 19-2 lead at the end of the period on Curt Quinn’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. Quinn also had a nifty teardrop jumper earlier in the quarter and finished with a season-high 11 points.
Newton’s defense suffocated the Eagles and it took until four minutes into the second quarter before they scored their second basket. The Rams led 29-4 before an Eastside three from just inside of half court at the horn cut the led to 22.
“I thought defensively we came out with some fire and had a much better start than we’ve been having,” Rasmussen said. “We want to be able to control games with our defense. They say offense wins games but defense wins championships. I thought our defense was outstanding really for all four quarters.”
Eastside fared better in the second half offensively, scoring 11 to Newton’s 15 in the third period. But the Rams still managed to build their lead and went into the final period up 44-18.
Stephen Croone had a quiet, yet solid game, scoring 16 points to lead all players. He provided the excitement toward the end of the half with a spectacular reverse dunk, then, found Quinn on a no-look pass for a bucket before halftime.
Treyvon Francis was the high point man for Eastside with nine. Michael Chapman, Quindarrious Russell and Ben Miller each finished with six.
Justin Thompson added six for the Rams and Kishon Rogers scored five including a 3-pointer. The Rams had five from beyond the arc for the game.
“I think we’re growing into who we may become after the (holiday) break,” Rasmussen said. “We played a little more with the (starting) lineup and our rotation has grown a little bit. That’s what we’re trying to do. Guys have figured out if they work hard and play hard, they’ll get more (playing) time and that’s what we want to see.”
Newton also bucked a recent trend of uncharacteristically turning the ball over with regularity. In their three losses so far, the Rams turned it over 20 times or more each game. They had 12 turnovers Saturday including just three in the second half. Eastside finished with 19.
“We’re still trying to get better with that. We know we have to get better at that with the people we have on our schedule,” Rasmussen said. “Three turnovers in the second half was much better and that’s a positive.”
The Rams lost their first and only game to Eastside under Rasmussen in this same game a year ago. Newton’s win pushed its overall record during that span to 12-1.
“I wasn’t thinking about that at all,” he said. “I just wanted to play a clean game and that’s three in a row now. I thought it was a really solid team win tonight.”