Newton, N-G win District 12 crown

Ja'Quan Newton holds the MVP and District 12 AAA championship plaques after the win. The Neumann-Goretti star scored a game-high 26 points. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Ja'Quan Newton holds the MVP and District 12 AAA championship plaques after the win. The Neumann-Goretti star scored a game-high 26 points. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: March 02, 2014

Ja'Quan Newton changed his seat twice. He then made a trip to the second-floor snack stand at Hagan Arena. The senior guard paused and played the Meek Mills track on his smartphone.

Newton, the city's best boys' basketball player, attached his gold, oversize headphones to his ears. Then he rested them around his neck, and placed the headphones back on his ears.

The Neumann-Goretti team arrived at St. Joseph's University about 90 minutes ahead of the tipoff for its 69-55 win over Philadelphia Electrical (16-11) in the District 12 Class AAA final Friday night. And its star player appeared restless.

Newton changed his sneakers just before tipoff, and at last the game began. He hauled in a Chargers air ball, sprinted down the court, and muscled in a layup. Newton capped Neumann-Goretti's next possession by sinking a floater. He scored eight points in a two-minute stretch and beat the first-quarter buzzer with a one-handed, up-and-under layup.

"I just come out aggressive every time I step on the court," said Newton, who has signed to play at Miami. ". . . I try to do it all."

Newton led the Saints (22-4) with 26 points, 16 coming in the first half. He was named the game's MVP and was awarded a wooden plaque. He said he will find a place for it in the living room of his Southwest Philadelphia home, which is getting crowded with trophies.

The 6-foot-2 guard is playing his best basketball of the season as the Saints gear up for a run at the Class AAA state title. Newton also is closing in on the Catholic League's all-time scoring mark, as he moved past Lonnie McFarlan on Friday for third on the list. He is 58 points behind all-time leader Jeff Jones of Monsignor Bonner.

"I'm a winner. That's everything you can say about me," Newton said. "I never let my team down when the game is on the line."

With 6 minutes, 58 seconds left in the second quarter, Newton picked up his dribble about six inches beyond the college three-point line. He faked two passes, scrambled the defense, and knocked down a three. He kept his hand extended as his shot swooshed.

"He's on a roll right now," said coach Carl Arrigale, who won his record-tying 10th Catholic League title Monday. "I think he senses the end is coming and he wants to make sure he leaves a legacy."

Troy Harper, Newton's backcourt mate, chipped in with a pair of threes and 16 points.

Senior forward Jamal Custis added 13 points. Custis used two hands to slam a Newton alley-oop pass in the second quarter.

With 38.5 seconds left and his team well ahead, Saints coach Carl Arrigale subbed out his starting five.

Newton, his night finished, sat between two Saints assistants. At last, he could relax.

Phila. Electrical 10 12 11 22 - 55

Neumann-Goretti 17 15 15 22 - 69

PE: Jihad Barnes 10, Hassan Darby 2, Anthony Harris 6, Nysir Marshburn 9, James Suber 8, Larenz Thurman 10, Devante Truitt 10.

NG: Vaughan Covington 6, Jamal Custis 13, Troy Harper 16, Lamarr Kimble 5, Ja'Quan Newton 26, Tony Toplyn 3.


mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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