LOGUST GROVE - The Newton boys basketball squad improved to 6-1 in Region 2-AAAAA after steamrolling past Luella on Tuesday night 75-55.
"We played a much better offensive game tonight," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "We played to honor Chuck (Edwards), who is at a funeral in California. But it was a fun night for our team, and several players stepped up in Chuck's absence."
Ranked No. 6 in the state according to Georgia coaches basketball poll, the Rams (15-2) were paced by Jamon Hawkins, who scored a team-high 19 points and had eight assists and six steals.
"We don't have nearly the size or athleticism that other AAAAA teams in the rankings do, but we play well together and have won a lot of games, so I guess that has caught the voters' eyes," Rasmussen said.
In the first quarter, Luella (8-11, 2-6) came out strong, taking an early 19-15 lead. Deandre Stroud tallied eight of his team-high 17 points in the opening period for the Lions.
However, Newton recorded its best offensive quarter of the season in the second, scoring 26 points in the period to take a 41-28 lead at halftime.
Newton's Jared Mann registered all of his points (15) in the first half. Perhaps the highlight of the initial 16 minutes came midway through the second after a behind-the-back pass from Tee Farley to Demetrius McCray for a one-handed dunk.
Farley finished with six assists and four steals.
Each team chalked up 17 points in the third quarter to make it 58-45 entering the final period. The Rams added another 17 in the fourth to preserve the 20-point victory.
Newton sophomore Derrick Henry contributed with 18 points, while McCray chipped in with nine points.
Newton next squares off against M.L. King tonight.
"(M.L. King) will be a tough test for us. They have come on strong, having won nine out of their last 12 games, including three straight in the region," Rasmussen said. "We beat them on a shot at the buzzer at home back on Dec. 9, so I know they want to beat us really badly.
"We'll have to play as well as we did (Tuesday) or better to have a good chance on the road there (tonight). It is a tough place to play, and we'll have to earn everything we get."
Jason Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.