Category Archives: Girls Basketball

Georgia Tech Girls Team Camp Notes

By Bre Singleton (@bre_singleton)

Daishai Almond
Daishai Almond

Reigning Class 6A State Champion Mays faced Peach County in what ended up being a battle. Down by just two points at the half, Peach County had a few bigger guards on the roster to help combat Mays’ quickness. One player in particular stood out. Daishai Almond, a 5’9” point-forward is a baller. On several occasions, she snagged a rebound and pushed it the length of the floor for a smooth bucket. Almond has recently gotten interest from the host team, Georgia Tech to go along with offers from Louisville and Kennesaw State. Whether she chooses to stay in-state, or to take her talents elsewhere, I’m confident that Almond will be able to step in and immediately bring scoring and versatility to any program.

Life after Kamiyah Street will be difficult for Mays but Natoria Hill will look to step up and run the point guard position. Hill, a 5’8” junior, has the length to be a pesky defender and the aggression to get to the rim. With a little more work on her mid-range game, I think she has the potential to be a very solid player. Chardae Bell also contributed with a scrappiness on defense that would frustrate many. Much like Hill, the addition of an outside jumper to Bell’s game would really help her stretch the floor in that Raider offense.

Rematch

After picking up the win over Peach County, Mays had a state championship rematch with Harrison, who I had the chance to watch a week or so ago and Georgia State’s team camp. I profiled Harper Vick at GSU, but Sarah Woghiren had a command over the court on Saturday for the Lady Hoyas. She put up 17 points and pulled six boards against the defending champs on their way to a win. Woghiren is strong and finishes well at the rim. If you’re going to foul her, you’ve got to make sure she doesn’t get the shot up at all, because if she does, there’s a good chance she’s getting the and-one.

Vick did not disappoint either. Her quickness led to easy leak-outs as Mays defenders had a hard time keeping track of her on the court. Finally for the Hoyas, Mae Willis had a solid game, getting to the free throw line early and often. Willis turns defense into offense for Harrison, coming up with steals and forcing the issue on the break.

Duluth leans on upperclassmen 

The last game of the day that I was able to catch was Duluth vs. Hardaway out of Columbus. As Endia Banks gets settled into college life in Miami, the Wildcats will have some work to do to replace her and Brianna Dixon in the backcourt. Victoria Oglesby is still looking very strong, coming off of several great performances in the state tournament. She was aggressive, getting to the line at will. She’ll look to decide on a school either later this month or early in July after re-opening her recruitment.

Zaniaya Williams is also on top of her game this summer. She pounded the boards hard for Duluth and had several putbacks for scores. Torey Walker, a 5’10” point-forward also looks promising going into her junior year. She seems to be getting more comfortable with her game which ought to bode well for the Wildcats. The only problem that stood out for Duluth was its inability to score. Oglesby broke Hardaway’s pressure but Duluth couldn’t seem to put the ball into the basket very much in the second half. Hardaway on the other hand attacked the basket and finished more often than not. It’ll be interesting to see how Duluth’s rotation shakes out when the GHSA season rolls around. They’ll need to address the backcourt to keep up with the likes of Collins Hill in Region 6-AAAAAAA.

St. Pius End of Summer Classic notes

By Bre Singleton (@bre_singleton)

St. Pius and Head Coach Kyle Snipes hosted an eight-team tournament on Friday, that would serve as the last summer high school outing for a few of the teams present. Among those in attendance were Northview, Brookwood, and Carrollton (teams I’ve had the chance to watch already this summer), as well as Franklin County, North Forsyth, Northwest Whitfield, Centennial, and finally, the host team.

Best Matchup

The first game of the day that I had the opportunity to catch was Carrollton vs. Franklin County, and I must say, that matchup was definitely my favorite of the tournament. Franklin County sisters Mya and Asia Jones were able to push the Lions past Carrollton, but it was by no means easy. Coach Shon Thomaston and the Trojans gave Franklin County all they could handle. Specifically, 5’9” rising senior Taylor Brown, had an outstanding performance. Finishing with 17 points and four rebounds, Brown’s effort was amazing to watch. She plays G/F for the Trojans but is obviously an undersized post. What was so great about this though, was her ability to take smaller guards down to the block and come up with points almost every time. She and Mya Jones went head-to-head for the latter part of the game in an incredible duel. Jones got the last laugh, putting up 25 points including four threes to lead her team to a 53-49 victory. Her sister Asia contributed 13 points and was an absolute menace on the boards.​

Sleeper Pick

​Carrollton High School has an incoming freshman that I think people out to look out for. De’Mauri Flournoy doesn’t look like she’ll have much trouble adjusting to high school ball this upcoming season. She attended Brandon Clay’s #EBASuper64 event earlier this month and is already catching the eye of several teams early on. She put up 16 points against a very solid Franklin County team and hit four threes. Finishing at the rim was her specialty though. I saw her take an in-and-out dribble into a left-handed finger roll finish that had me questioning if she was really just a freshman. With a natural feel for the game, Flournoy is shaping up to be one of the best point guards in the state of Georgia.

Heating Up

​Things got pretty intense between Brookwood and Northview, but it was just good competition if you ask me. Northview was without its star forward Ashlee Austin and lost its first game by two points to Franklin County. Others stepped up for Coach Yarbrough in her absence. Among them was Asjah Inniss, whose play I really liked when I saw the Titans at Johns Creek last week. She maintained a level of aggression from the PG spot that Brookwood had a little trouble with. Maya Richards put up her usual double-double in this one, and was the most seasoned post player on the floor for both teams. Richards and the Brookwood posts went at it from the jump, being very physical. Malia Grace did not back down at all. She had a slew of points and rebounds herself, and matched Richards’ physicality. Selma Kulo is a 6’4” center who has only been playing basketball for two years. She’s raw, but playing with EOTO on the AAU circuit for the rest of this summer ought to help her progress. She had a few nice blocks and putbacks for Brookwood. Kiera Adams had another great game, leading the Broncos in scoring. When Adams wasn’t running the point, TaylorAnn Cushenberry had the job. She was able to get to the basket on several occasions and give the Broncos timely scores to help with edge out the win. Coach Carolyn Whitney, a Wesleyan graduate and standout player, ought to be excited about the fire and talent she has rising through the program.

Championship Game

​North Forsyth and Franklin County went at it for the final game of the Classic. The first half was pretty evenly matched. The Raiders were running through their offense but couldn’t hit very many shots while the Lions’ isolation approach wasn’t really working against North’s packed in defense. But, in a tale of two halves, North Forsyth made all of the shots that wouldn’t fall for them earlier. Georgia College verbal commit Cassie Markle had a good game on the boards and came up with several putbacks. Amber Jones, a smaller guard, shot the ball very well from deep, hitting four threes. Mya Jones and Franklin County got it going eventually but just didn’t have enough scoring.

North Forsyth will be at Georgia Tech’s team camp this weekend, along with Carrollton, Northview, and a host of others. I’ll be there to keep you all updated on the various games and players I catch!

Adversity can’t hold back Sequoyah’s Alyssa Cagle

There have been two aspects synonymous with Sequoyah Lady Chiefs basketball over the past three, now going on four years; wins and Alyssa Cagle. It could be argued that winning and Alyssa Cagle could go hand-in-hand with each other, something that Coach Derrick DeWitt would not argue.

“She is definitely an anchor; an insurance policy and she exemplifies what Sequoyah basketball is all about,” said DeWitt of Cagle of who is first in her class and on pace to become valedictorian of the 2018 Sequoyah graduating class.

While Cagle has strived both on the hardwood and in the classroom over her first three years, it has not come without adversity.

“The first week in January I broke my nose in a game against Harrison,” explained Cagle. “I had surgery a couple days later and then I came back from the surgery about a week later and wore a mask. Then my second game back, I tore my ACL on January 21st against Cherokee.”

The Lady Chiefs would lose to rival Cherokee 52-49 and see a 14-5 start to the year finish 5-5 over the last 10 games of the season including a three-game losing streak capped by a 59-51 loss in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs at Winder-Barrow while Cagle was forced to watch from the sidelines with her team-best 12.4 points, 2.4 assists and 2.8 steals per game unable to make a difference.

“I was MVP of my team, so me going down was a huge thing for my team. I’ve always been that kind of person that leads by example so it was hard to provide that guidance for the team, whatever they needed, when I couldn’t physically be on the court,” said Cagle of how difficult it was to watch a promising season derail by injuries. “It was just hard watching them. It just kind of hits home.”

One day after surgery

It was also especially tough for DeWitt, who has helped groom Cagle from Day 1 when he thrusted her into a starting role and has seen her blossom into one of the best pound-for-pound point guards in Georgia.

“As a supporter and a believer of her talent as a fan, I was just sad to see her go down late in the year like that,” said DeWitt. “I was sad for her because when she broke her nose, she wanted to stay in the game and she was like ‘no, I’m finishing this game’ and I was like you can’t, your nose is bent. She’s just a warrior, she doesn’t want anything to get in her way. She doesn’t want to let her teammates down. She is very motivated to get to the next level.”

A first-round loss for Cagle’s Lady Chiefs was a first in three years. As a freshman, Cagle helped Sequoyah to an Elite Eight berth where they lost on a buzzer beater to Stephenson, 55-53, a game in which Cagle dropped in 12 points and five assists. In 2015-16 as a sophomore, the Lady Chiefs took a step further and advanced to the Final Four where they ran out of energy and fell to Southwest DeKalb 55-47. Both Stephenson and Southwest DeKalb went on to win the state championship after clearing the Sequoyah hurdle.

Culture Changer

Since Cagle has joined the Sequoyah varsity roster, the Lady Chiefs are 71-21. She has been on the forefront along with Coach DeWitt of the renaissance of Sequoyah basketball, a girls program which won the state title in Georgia’s largest classification back in 1994 & 1996.

With still a final year of eligibility remaining, Cagle hasn’t wasted anytime in getting her body ready to be able to write the final chapter of her storied career.

“Typically, with any ACL injury, it’s going to take you a full-year to be where you were before you had the injury. Right now, I’m four months post-surgery. I couldn’t be doing anymore to prepare for the season. I’m going to come back at nine months, which a lot of people do,” told Cagle of her daily progress.

“To prepare for that, I work out about five to six days a week with a trainer in Sandy Springs, at a place called Exercise Bioenergetics. It’s a huge two and a half hour full-body work out. I’ll probably do this for the next year until I go off to college, even after I begin playing again.”

Cagle will begin practicing again in September, but won’t be at full speed until the nine-month mark.

16 weeks after surgery
Silver Linings

Once Cagle returns to the floor, she will be surrounded by familiar faces as Sequoyah graduates just one senior from their 19-10 roster. With the Lady Chiefs’ primary ballhandler on the sidelines for the final 10 games of the season, it gave the rest of the team a chance to step up and benefit from their newfound roles.

“I think my absence is going to better us in the long run. For the past three years, I have been the sole ballhandler. There are no other ballhandlers on our team. So without me, a lot of the girls have stepped up, which next year that will definitely pay off because we will have more ballhandlers with more experience being alone without me out there. Whenever I return, hopefully we’ll be a better team than we were last year.”

Next Level

As the days get shorter and shorter until Cagle’s return to the floor for her senior season, as does her time to pick up scholarship offers and decide what to do with her life after her time in Hickory Flat is complete.

“It’s been difficult now that I hurt my knee. A lot of coaches want to see me play again, but the schools I am talking to right now are Wofford, Jacksonville State, Stony Brook, Stetson, Samford, Georgia College, and Georgia State.

“I’m interested in anywhere,” continued Cagle. “I definitely want to play basketball in college.”

On June 15, Georgia College offered Cagle a full-ride.

With an immaculate academic background, a strong work ethic and desire to be the best, DeWitt believes Cagle will find the right fit in college.

“If you want a floor general, someone who knows the situation, knows how to call the right play, how to finish late in the shot clock, how to find the hot hand, a player who doesn’t get tired, that’s a student of the game and is a quality character; she’s not a gamble on any level,” expressed DeWitt. “She can thrive in Division II or Division I, she’s all about her academics and athletics and she’s focused on having basketball be her gateway.

“Being probably our valedictorian, she’s going to have the run of the mill as far as what school she wants to attend. Is she a gamble? No. She’s very coachable. She’ll do what’s best for the team, she’s selfless and she’s a leader by example.”

Johns Creek Girls Team Camp Day 2

By Bre Singleton (@bre_singleton)

I had the pleasure of visiting Johns Creek High School for the second day of their team camp. I got a look at some of the teams that I missed out on yesterday, including the host team, North Gwinnett, Alpharetta, and Brookwood, who made their first appearance at the camp.

Alpharetta was matched up with the Buford Wolves, who I profiled yesterday, in their first game of the afternoon. Losing only one senior and coming off of a 17-8 overall record last year, the Raiders will be young but confident in the upcoming GHSA season. From what I saw Thursday, they’ll rely heavily on the three-headed monster of Juju and Gogo Maduka, and Kendall Phillips. The Maduka sisters, both long and lanky with incredible reach, are rising seniors, while Phillips, who has no shortage of length herself, will be a junior. Juju, on several occasions, grabbed boards that seemed out of reach and put them back up for easy scores. Gogo exercised more of her mid-range game both vs Buford and Brookwood. She took a couple of nice pullups, able to rise up over smaller defenders. Coach David Walden certainly has some players with potential to work with.

Brookwood is adapting to life after N’dea Jones as the standout forward transitions to Texas A&M to further her basketball career. Kiera Adams played some point/forward for the Broncos in their matchup with Alpharetta. Obviously the most aggressive player on the floor for Brookwood, Adams will be a rising junior looking to attack the basket and get to the line. Malia Grace and Hannah Farr are two sophomore posts who are pretty good at finishing around the rim. Grace at 6’1” got her hands on a ton of rebounds and when she wasn’t able to put a shot up, kicked it back out for an extra possession. I’m interested to see how the Broncos adjust to their new lineup.

Despite only seeing six wins last year, Head Coach Amanda Heil and North Gwinnett are optimistic about the process of getting better. Sydnee Jackson brought high energy for the Bulldogs, attacking and handling the ball very well. North was without Alanni Brown, daughter of NBA star Dee Brown, and sister of Lexie Brown, the Duke guard who helped build the program up before graduating in 2013. With quite a few young players, Coach Heil is focused on getting the program back to where it was just a few years ago.

Johns Creek’s Markeima Lancaster, a 5’8” SF, could not be stopped in the Gladiators matchup with North Gwinnett. Johns Creek ran a four-out, one-in offense that put Lancaster in the best position for her to succeed. Markeilla Lancaster, Markeima’s sister, also performed well. A post presence and vocal leader for the Gladiators, Markeilla cleaned up any offensive boards and hit a few short jumpers. Coach Kirk Call will look to make some noise in 6A Region 7.

Johns Creek Girls Team Camp

By Bre Singleton (@bre_singleton)

Johns Creek hosted a camp Wednesday afternoon in which seven other teams including Buford, Northview, Alpharetta, and Lambert all participated. The camp was strictly held for the purpose of getting reps according to Johns Creek Head Coach Kirk Call. For that reason, scores were not kept and the scrimmages consisted of each team getting 10-minute segments of offense, half-court only.

In my most anticipated matchup of the afternoon, the Buford Wolves and Northview Titans were pitted against each other in a battle of 27+ win teams. The two juggernauts definitely came to play. Northview started with their 10-minute offensive stint first. The Titans had it going early, executing effectively and getting quality possessions. The starting five has a tangible chemistry about them that is a joy to watch. The group is led by senior guard Megan Cistulli, who showed proved to be the vocal presence on the court.

Ashlee Austin

Northview has a solid tandem of 2019 prospects on their hands as well. Ashlee Austin, fresh off her first D1 offer from Ole Miss, shot the ball especially well from deep on Wednesday. Offensive rebounds were there for the 6’1 PF as well as she looks to build on her game.

Maya Richards

Maya Richards, Austin’s fellow junior post presence, also had a strong outing. Richards, the bigger and stronger of the two, had her way with just about anyone in her vicinity. A killer drop step got her to the bucket more times than not.

Rounding out the Titan starting five were Asjah Inniss, an aggressive PG who had about as many assists and as she had threes (and she hit several). Another young guard, Eden Sample, found her stroke from deep as well.

Buford was without its star player Tory Ozment who was out for precautionary reasons, but Coach Gene Durden wasn’t worried about her absence at all. Said Durden, “We know what Tory can do…we want to see about some of the others.”

The others certainly showed what they were made of against a very solid Northview team. A player that I was personally impressed with was young Tate Walters, the Wolves’ sophomore point guard. For the most part, Buford ran a drive and kick offense and on several occasions, Coach Durden had them spread the floor so that Walters could go to work. She did just that, and on several defenders. Her ability to break down defenders and get to the cup was phenomenal. At 5’7” Walters has the vision to see open teammates who drop to the block after she penetrates. It’ll be exciting to see how she progresses in the Buford girls basketball program.

Rising senior Jessica Nelson had the task of guarding Northview’s talented post players. She put as much presence on them as they put on her. Nelson arguably had the best post moves I saw all day.

The Lambert Longhorns looked good coming off of a 26-3 season. The Longhorns were one of the few teams to get up and down the court in their scrimmage with Northview. Senior posts Sidney Chase and Jaleah Greene were a fun duo to watch take on the Northview Titans. M.E. Craven, a long SF, had quite a few nice finishes at the rim to help the Longhorns’ scoring.

Coach David Walden of Alpharetta and Coach Amanda Heil of North Gwinnett brought their respective teams to Johns Creek for some summer work. Both fairly young teams got up and down the floor in hopes of getting some good reps. Coach Heil is entering her first year as the head coach of the Bulldogs, replacing Bryan Sellers who she had previously been an assistant coach for.