COVINGTON — Experience is going to be on the side of the Newton girls as they start their 2013-14 season with a Region 2-AAAAAA game against Alcovy at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Last Rams, who finished last season as region runner-up with an overall record of 20-8, have seven seniors coming back with all seven having started at one point last year.
“They know what’s going on and we should be ready to go,” Newton head coach Tiffani Johnson said. “They’re able to make corrections quicker and they know they system so I’m looking for big things from my seniors.”
Since her sophomore year, Precious Price has been the catalyst of the Newton girls basketball team. While she is still a big part of the team, the Lady Rams may not be hurt if she has on off night because of the experience on the team.
A few of the players helping her carry the load include seniors Deandra Reed and Cynteria Langhorne.
“She’s definitely a big part but not as big of a part. She doesn’t have the whole weight on her shoulders,” Johnson said of Price. “They (seniors) have all stepped up. We also have a new freshman, Imani Broadnax, so I don’t think they’ll be as much pressure as we put on her last year. We have a lot of people that can contribute so it’s not solely in her hands.
“She can handle it but I just think it’s nice to have some help. A win or loss is not all on her, it’s on the team now and not just on Precious.”
Other players that have really stepped up and taken the challenge include Sonia Forney.
“Deandra Reed stepped up last year but now she’s more of a vocal leader. She holds the girls responsible and makes sure they’re doing what they’re suppose to do and that’s making sure she is as far as talking. Her leadership on the floor is the biggest thing that’s increased. Deandra and Sonia Forney, they’re knowledge has really helped out,” Johnson said.
The other seniors on the team include Tori Pharr, Shay Lawrence and Mercedes Booker.
Last season, the Lady Rams had their season ended with a 55-38 defeat to Tift County in the second round of the playoffs. This season they hope that things will be different and they can actually win region while advancing beyond the second round of the playoffs. While those are long-term goals, they want to make a quick start coming out of the blocks.
“Right now we’re working on coming out with intensity every game,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to leave it all on the floor every time we step out on the court.”
The Newton girls have been scrimmaging against the boys basketball team in hopes of elevating their game. They are also training and practicing at a faster pace in hopes that it will translate into a faster tempo during the year.
Price and a few other players have improved their perimeter shooting opening the door for quicker scores. However, the Lady Rams also have some height on the team this making them a threat no matter what defenses may throw at them.
“I hope we get a couple of games where everyone is on at the same time. That adds a lot of versatility to us and hopefully we can pick teams apart,” Johnson said. “If they put us in the zone we can hit the outside shots. If they put us in man we have people that are fast and some perpetrators and (rebounders). We have a little bit of everything so hopefully we can give the defense’s a little bit of trouble this year.”