Newton basketball completes another stellar summer schedule
Newton basketball gets off to a fast start against its competition each fall primarily because of the work the Rams put in the summer. As a team, Newton works hard for the first month of the summer before breaking camp so-tospeak to enjoy the rest of the break. This year, the Rams went 17-1 in summer competition in scrimmages and team camp games with their only loss coming in the final game at the Geor- gia College team camp.
This year’s team also has the luxury of returning several key players from last year’s Region 2-AAAAA championship team. Among them, Stephen Croone is playing his best basketball as he led the Rams over the summer in scoring with 18 points per game, often only playing two-thirds of each game. The Rams will need all of Croone’s scoring after losing two-time region player of the year Derrick Henry to graduation.
“Stephen is playing better than ever,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. “Trying to find that one leader to replace Derrick may be nearly impossible, but we challenged our four seniors to step up and take the reigns. I was pleased with their progress in learning to be leaders.”
The Rams won each game by an average of 20 points, allowing everyone court time which should help address Rasmussen’s primary concern of depth come fall.
“We still need to work to get the less experienced guys to be more qualified to contribute and to learn our system a little bit better,” Rasmussen said. “We need to improve our depth more than anything else at this point.”
Along with Croone, seniors Justin Thompson, Shane Henry and Justin Gates all saw heavy action last year. Each has looked good so far this summer with Henry garnering a lot of college interest. Both Croone and Henry are on college radars.
“After losing five seniors who all contributed to our team’s success last season,
including Derrick, I did not know what to expect from our team,” Rasmussen said. “We lost some great leadership, but Stephen, JT, Shane, and Gates all stepped up to provide what was lost.”
The summers have al- ways been an important factor in Newton’s success. Still, with the past two region championship trophies in Newton’s trophy case, there are seven other teams itching to snatch that reign away. The summer workouts are just the start.
“I was pleased with the work our players put in,” Rasmussen said. “There are a lot of young players coming up who have a lot of potential. The future is bright for the Newton basketball.
“We are excited about next season and want to have a chance to pursue a third straight region cham- pionship, something that has not been done since 1981-83. We know that everyone will be gunning for us, so we need to keep working to get better as next season approaches."
Newton coach rick Rasmussen talks to his team during a timeout at the Georgia College team camp last week. The Rams went 17-1 during summer camp and scrimmage play.