Un­beaten East­side trav­els to New­ton,

Un­beaten Ea­gles take on New­ton to see who’s area’s best

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

It’s been a pro­duc­tive first part of the sea­son for both New­ton and East­side, with 11 wins (prior to New­ton’s matchup with Jack­son, At­lanta to­day) coming to­gether on the Rams’ court.

New­ton got the sea­son started with four straight wins, in­clud­ing a 47-43 vic­tory over crosstown ri­val Al­covy, be­fore a vic­tory over Jack­son sand­wiched its only two losses, both close.

East­side, which fin­ished last sea­son with a 15-14 record, has be­gun the sea­son with wins in each of its six games. The Ea­gles have done so be­hind a quick­paced scor­ing of­fense, led by Quin­dar­rius Rus­sell, An­thony Hen­der­son and Treyvon Fran­cis.

Af­ter scor­ing 14 points in Tues­day’s 60-47 win over Wal- nut Grove, Rus­sell is av­er­ag­ing 20.6 points per game and Hen­der­son is next av­er­ag­ing 14.6 points per game, all start­ing with Fran­cis at point guard.

“Their point guard is a really good fa­cil­i­ta­tor,” New­ton coach Rick Ras­mussen said. “We’re look­ing for­ward to play­ing them. I know they’ve got­ten off to a solid start. Hopefully, we’ll play well be­cause we’re go­ing to need to play well.”

The Rams have been play­ing well, es­pe­cially on the de­fen­sive end, through­out the early sea­son. New­ton al­lowed just 27 points in its pre­vi­ous win, and has given up more than 45 points just once in five wins. With all but one of those wins coming on the road.

“We’re ex­cited about hav­ing a two-game home­s­tand,” Ras­mussen said of Jack­son and East­side. “It will be nice to be at home.”

The Rams are wel­com­ing East­side, as it is scor­ing 64 points per game with sev­eral play­ers step­ping up in the scor­ing col­umn. How­ever, New­ton is giv­ing up just 42 points per game, 12 bet­ter than the Ea­gles. The Rams are scor­ing 49.3 points per game.

“We preach de­fense first,” Ras­mussen said. “Of­fense wins games but de­fense wins cham­pi­onships. We’re look­ing for­ward to play­ing against a team that’s feel­ing con­fi­dent and is good. We’re look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge.”

The Rams have proven up to the chal­lenge in most of the two teams past 16 meet­ings since 2004. New­ton has won three straight since East­side’s lone win, 52-49 on Dec. 4, 2010.

Since then, New­ton has won

See Ri­vals, 2B

50-33 and 60-29 and 66-26, both coming last sea­son.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to it,” Ras­mussen said. “It’s al­ways fun to play one of our ri­vals. We’ve done well against them but what you’ve done in the past doesn’t help you that day. Ev­ery year a team is dif­fer­ent, and so far this year they’re off to a good start.”

The game will also go to de­cid­ing which team can lay claim to the best in New­ton County. Both New­ton and East­side have beaten Al­covy, with the Ea­gles pick­ing up a 62-48 win on Nov. 30. With East­side be­ing in a dif­fer­ent re- gion, 8-AAAA, than New­ton and Al­covy, both in 2-AAAAAA, it will be the last meet­ing be­tween the Ea­gles and ei­ther of the two other area schools. The event will be sure to draw a crowd to see New­ton’s top hoops team.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to the ri­valry game,” Ras­mussen said. “We hope we have a big crowd, and hope it’s im­por­tant to the com­mu­nity and a lot of peo­ple come out to watch it.”

East­side will head out of town af­ter the game with a tour­na­ment at Ma­con’s Rut­land High from Dec. 20-22 and then an­other in Milledgeville on Dec. 27-29. The Rams also head to a hol­i­day tour­na­ment, trav­el­ing to Dal­las County, Ala. for the Yule Tide Christ­mas Clas­sic from Dec. 27-29.

D.J. Hill (above left) and the New­ton Rams host un­beaten East­side and Treyvon Fran­cis (above right) Satur­day night.

An­thony Banks /The Cov­ing­ton News

An­thony Banks /The Cov­ing­ton News

East­side is shoot­ing for an un­blem­ished record, tak­ing its six straight wins on the road to New­ton Satur­day.

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