COVINGTON, Ga. -- In the finale of the Covington News Super 8 Showcase, Dre Butler and Ashton Hagans combined for 54 points in Class AAAAAAA No. 5 Newton’s 86-70 rout of Class AAA No. 5 Westside-Macon.But beyond the household names, the Rams found valuable contribution in the win from a more unsung team member.
Because the flu bug has been making its way through Newton High, head coach Rick Rasmussen was a little under the weather and 6-foot-5 junior forward Armani Harris was held out after playing the night before in a Region 8-AAAAAA win over Archer. The void was left for senior Gabe Gates to fill.
“Gabe Gates is a senior who has worked really hard and stepped up,” Rasmussen said, “That’s what happens when someone’s down. The next man steps up.”
From the beginning of the game, the defensive intensity from the Rams set the tone. Led by Hagans, who tallied his seventh triple-double of the season with 27 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds and four steals, the Rams forced seven Seminole turnovers; three of which by Hagans. However, a series of missed layups prevented Newton from capitalizing.
The long, tall Seminole lineup, led by ESPN top 50 player Khavon Moore was able to create some miss-matches, but Newton led 17-14 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, the Rams’ offense came alive. Hagans and Butler attacked the Westside defense from the inside, out. And at one point, Butler scored seven in a row. Other players like Tre Clark and Tyrease Brown got involved too, chipping in seven points apiece in the first half. At the half, the Rams held a 41-35 lead.
The scoring continued into the second half. Butler consistently found himself open around the hoop as Hagans was drawing defenders and dropping it off to him. Brown also continued his hot hand, converting on a handful of three pointers.
Despite this, turnovers, untimely fouls and missed opportunities on makebale shots prevented the Rams from extending the lead further than single digits and they maintained a six point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Despite Moore’s efforts -- the four-star prospect finished with 20 points and created some mismatch issues for the Rams at times -- the combination of Hagans and Butler was too much to overcome.
The duo scored on almost every possession in an explosive fourth quarter where Newton seemed to wear Westside down. There was little the Seminole coaching staff or players could do as the lead eventually grew to double digits halfway through the fourth quarter.
In addition to Hagans’ monster performance, Butler’s 27 points matched Hagans for the game-high, and Tyrease Brown finished with 16 points.
Butler said he enjoyed the competition that was brought to Newton High School from the first-ever CovNews Super 8 Showcase.
“It was exciting, I loved the atmosphere,” Butler said, “It was a lot of talent and competition so I enjoyed it.”
Coach Rasmussen echoed these sentiments in hopes that the showcase becomes an annual event.
“Newton High is a beautiful place and has one of the best facilities east of Atlanta,” Rasmussen said, “It was great to have teams from south Georgia and ranked teams from multiple classifications. It was a great event, and I’m thankful for everyone involved.”
The Rams will be in action again Monday at The Dream Challenge MLK Classic, held at Morehouse College. They will tip off against Class AAAAA No. 1 Warner Robins at 6 pm.