Newton’s Janaud Notae (1) makes a layup during their final summer camp at Mercer. The Rams finished their workouts with a 21-9 record. (Submitted photo)
COVINGTON — The Newton boys basketball team finished their summer workout with a successful trip to Mercer.
“We went 7-2 at Mercer and got our top 10 guys some valuable experience and gave them a chance to show us what they could do as well,” Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen said. “We learned the value of fundamentals and the little things that we always preach and the Mercer coaches echoed those sentiments when they spoke on (June 27) to the entire camp.”
While coming in third out of a camp with more than 20 participants, what really pleased Rasmussen was the way his team did it without Darvin Jones who was their only returning starter from last season. Jones missed the final five games of the camp.
“He missed all three on Saturday due to a nagging Achilles heel injury. Our one returning starter Darvin Jones struggled this summer with nagging injuries that never went away because we played so many games. We are hoping he can be 100 percent next season so he can play at his best,” Rasmussen said of Jones. “.
“I am pleased with where we, as we had four different sophomores start in games and two juniors, only one of which was on our varsity last year.”
Some of the players that stepped up and made the Newton staff take notice include senior center Antonio Smith, who wasn’t on the varsity last year, junior guard Jaquan Simms, junior wing Marvin Boireau and senior Donovan Grubb.
Grubb lead the team in scoring in the 30 games they played over a 16-day summer schedule while Simms also played increasingly better as the camps progressed.
“We only have one returning starter so a lot of spots are open and many guys have a chance to step up and prove themselves next season,” Rasmussen said. “Summer camp gave us a great chance to evaluate our returners and new players and build team chemistry. The team had very good team-first attitudes this summer that will need to continue next fall for our team to fulfill its potential. I am excited about the newness and youth of our team.”
Also showing good potential for the future of the Rams organization were sophomores Josh Tukes, Janaud Notae and Jeremiah Holloman.
“We got a lot accomplished and identified areas that are strengths and weaknesses. I think going 21-9 in our 16 days of games with our lack of experience was a testament to this team’s acceptance of their roles and team chemistry that we built in just a few weeks of practice,” Rasmussen said. “Our guys deserve a much needed break before they play AAU in July and August. This summer was a good start to another solid year of Newton Rams basketball.
“We are looking forward with anticipation for next season. Our sophomore class is really, really deep so we are excited about the next three years.”