Newton rises to PCL top

Ja'Quan Newton receives congratulations from Miami coach Jim Larranaga after becoming the Catholic League's all-time leading scorer. Newton will play for the Hurricanes next season.
Ja'Quan Newton receives congratulations from Miami coach Jim Larranaga after becoming the Catholic League's all-time leading scorer. Newton will play for the Hurricanes next season. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 20, 2014

Ja'Quan Newton sat alone on a folding chair. He would be the final player introduced.

"Last, but not least," the public-address announcer thundered. "Headed to the University of Miami . . . Ja'Quan Newton!"

No other player received such an introduction. There is no other Ja'Quan Newton.

With 4 minutes, 11 seconds left in the second quarter, Newton bunny-hopped through the lane and laid the ball off the glass with his left hand. It was 7:29 p.m.

The basket accounted for his sixth and seventh points of the night and tied the game at 18. It was met with little fanfare in the gym at Southern.

It was not until halftime that the history that had just been made was acknowledged. The layup gave the Neumann-Goretti senior guard 1,925 points in his career. He had passed Monsignor Bonner's Jeff Jones for the all-time Catholic League scoring record.

"He's definitely one of the greats. He's won more than anybody," Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale said. "If you put it all together and stack it up, he's right there."

The moment was inevitable. He needed just five points to tie the mark entering the game.

Philadelphia Electrical players, twice losers to the Saints already this season, delayed it as long as they could.

The Chargers put one player in his face. Then two. They used their hands and elbows and tugs of the jersey to keep the ball away from him.

"Before the tip of the ball, someone came over and bumped me," Newton said. "We didn't even tip the ball."

It might have been the wrong strategy for such an unflappable sort. Newton scored 21 points in front of his future college coach, Jim Larranaga. He went 9 for 10 from the line, and the Saints moved on to their fourth state final in five years with a 65-53 win.

Newton is a scorer without peer in a league with nearly 100 years of history. But that is not the way he wishes to be remembered.

He has won four Catholic titles and two state championships. He will play for a third Friday in Hershey against Susquehanna Township.

"Your legacy is not complete without the wins. Without the championships," Newton said.

As Newton trudged toward the stairs to climb from the basement locker room at Southern, Arrigale called after him.

"Four-thirty tomorrow, be ready," he said.

Newton nodded.

The record might be his, but the legacy he really wants requires one more practice.

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