Neumann-Goretti's Newton sets record in win over PET

Posted: March 20, 2014

WHAT IS THE protocol for the day you're likely to become the Catholic League's all-time leading scorer?

Eat a particular food? Listen to a certain song? Grab a specific pair of sneakers?

Nope. None of that. But, you absolutely cannot get caught making history without a fresh hair cut.

"Oh, yeah, I just got it [today]," smiled Ja'Quan Newton in the locker room at Southern High. "I had to, I had to. I needed a cut anyway so I just got it."

Newton didn't lead Ss. Neumann-Goretti in scoring during last night's 65-53 victory against Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter, but he did leave with more points than any player in CL history.

The Class AAA PIAA semifinal victory means a title game with Susquehanna Valley, which defeated Central Valley last night.

The freshly shorn wing guard finished with 21 points against a feisty Chargers' defense designed to disrupt and displace the finely faded follicles on his head.

"Touch him. Touch him!" was a frequent order shouted from the PET sideline. Nothing malicious, but every jostle and jiggle was intended to let Newton know points wouldn't come easy.

He needed just six for glory and after two jumpers in the first quarter, he was sent to the line with 6:30 left in the second. What better place with the game already stopped? But alas, a 1-for-2 trip meant history had to wait.

Finally, a lefty layup at the 4:11 mark did the trick.

He now has 1,937 points. The record was held by Jeff Jones (Bonner, 2007) who had 1,923. "When it happened, I knew," he said. "When I got that bucket I was like [exhaled], 'OK now I can just play.' "

The PET defense was tenacious all night, a little too tenacious according to the whistles. The Saints shot 33-for-39 at the line. Newton (9-for-10) and Harper (12-for-14) were the main charity stripers.

In fact, N-G was "held" to just three made field goals in the third and two more in the fourth. With all the whistles, who knows if N-G would have finished with more than five second-half makes?

However, if the intention was to take Newton out of his game - it didn't seem to.

"Just keep your composure," he said. "Don't lose your cool. Don't do anything stupid to get yourself ejected. Just play through it and let the refs take care of [the calls]."

You don't get to be the only player in CL history to start on four consecutive league title teams without seeing your fair share of defensive tactics.

"I've seen a lot of different strategies," he said. "But my senior year, I've seen the most I've ever seen. Teams try everything on me and I've never seen some of the things teams tried this year. Box-and-one, every time I get the ball two guys run at me, two guys [face guarding] when the shot clock is running down, triangle-and-two, I've seen a lot of things."

The Chargers (19-12) were led by junior wing Devante Truitt (13 points, 6-for-10) and senior Larenz Thurman (12, 4-for-15). James Suber, a senior forward, added eight points and nine boards, while sophomore Nysir Marshburn was big off the bench with nine points.

However, a 10-for-20 night at the foul line proved costly.

After a 28-24 advantage at intermission, the Saints scored the first 11 points of the third quarter. PET finally tallied on a Donovan Barnes' basket at the 2:59 mark.

The Saints' defense was also a factor. Senior forward Tony Toplyn (Campbell University) coupled eight boards with four blocks. Vaughn Covington, a sophomore guard, finished with just six points and one steal, which belied his tenacity. Junior wing Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble chipped in 12 points.

As for Newton, he corralled eight rebounds to go with five steals.

"We just had to get used to how they were playing," Newton said. "We knew they were playing physical and coming out of the locker room coach [Carl Arrigale] said, 'Be physical back. We're not a punk team or anything like that. So we came out and were physical right back and so we just beat them."

The record is nice, but . . .

"Championships," Newton said. "Without the championships [six consective titles for N-G] you can't have a complete legacy. So my legacy is complete here because of my championships."


On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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