Although none of Newton County’s three high school basketball teams were able to get past the first round of the state playoffs, there was plenty of talent to be seen in the gyms of Eastside, Newton and Alcovy.
Headlining the class of the county’s top basketball players were Eastside’s Quindarrious Russell and Newton’s Rashard Cabane, both running neck-and-neck for the county’s player of the year.
Helping Eastside reach the Region 8-AAAA title game and putting up a league best 19.7 points per game, Russell edged out the Newton senior.
Russell, playing guard and forward for the 14-10 Eagles, also grabbed 6.3 rebounds in his senior season.
“He got double teamed a lot and had a lot of extra people running at him all year,” Eastside coach Greg Freeman said.
Russell had six 30-point games, and Freeman said he could have gone for 50 if not for being rested in blowouts.
“When he’s truly in that zone there’s not a whole lot of guys in the state that could put up numbers like he did,” Freeman said.
While Russell was the county’s top scorer, Cabane did a lot of everything for Newton.
The Rams’ senior MVP had 12 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as Newton finished 16-10.Cabane starred on the defensive end as well, shattering the Rams record for charges taken, notching 67. The Rams previous record was 25 set by Stephen Croone during the 2011-12 season.
“It’s ridiculous,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. “He had the undesirable task of playing inside against bigger people, which wasn’t really fair but it was what we had to do to be successful.”
The Rams were successful because of their defense, which held opponents to 44.8 points per game. Leading the way was fellow all-county player Taylor Hawkins, who guarded the opposing team’s toughest player on a nightly basis, including when he limited Russell to nine and four points in Newton and Eastside’s two meetings.
Jalen Glover, Newton’s other returning starter from 2011-12, along with Cabane, also is an all-county player.
Glover scored 12 points per game, while grabbing five rebounds and two steals. The junior All-region player was also Newton’s biggest 3-point threat.
“He is super athletic, and he’s going to be one of our returning starters next year,” Rasmussen said. “We expect a lot out of Jalen.”
Filling out the top five in the county is Eastside’s Treyvon Francis. Francis averaged 11.9 points per game and directed the Eagles’ offense with 9.4 assists per game.
The junior also had 5.7 steals per contest.
“He’s going to be so much better next year than he was this year,” Freeman said. “A lot of what he did, while he was doing it he was still growing into the role. Next year, it’s just going to be interesting to see how well he develops.”