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Georgia Tech team camp analysis

I made it out to Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Here are the camp’s biggest takeaways.

The Return of the Messiah

Messiah Thompson was one of the top performers at camp. The 5-foot-9 2019 point guard started his career at North Atlanta before transferring to Pebblebrook for his sophomore season. Now back home at North Atlanta, Thompson resumes the role as lead dog. Thompson plays with a chip on his shoulder and is the unquestioned engine for the Warriors. He posted 18 points, five assists and three steals in a blowout win over Harrison and followed up with a 17-point showing against Dacula. Thompson has a good feel for the game and court vision which allows him to make his teammates better. He scored from beyond the arc and when attacking the basket.

North Atlanta should be much improved from their 7-18 mark not just because of the return of Thompson, but the addition of fellow Pebblebrook transfer Andrew Robinson, who brings energy at 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4 junior Joshua Johnson who was mightily impressive in his first impression. Josh is extremely active and athletic which helps him finish around the basket and rebound. He had 11 points and eight rebounds against Harrison. The nucleus of 2019 players could have North Atlanta competing in Region 7-AAAAAA sooner rather than later.

Fitting In

Quincy Ademokoya suited up for Dacula after recently transferring in as a highly touted 2020 prospect from Illinois, but it was easy to see that Ademokoya is not yet a finished product, though he showed flashes of a solid skillset. He was passive in Dacula’s 54-53 win over North Atlanta. The 6-foot-6 wing finished with three points, seven rebounds and two assists. Both Dacula and Ademokoya are still in the feeling out process as to where he best fits in. Once he finds his role and synergy with his new teammates, Ademokoya should be able to gel. He is in good hands with Dr. Russ Triaga and an established core of Falcons.

Arusha Hunter

One player who had no trouble taking charge was 2018 shooting guard Arusha Hunter. Hunter has continued to rise his game to the next level. After averaging just 4.2 points per game as a sophomore, Hunter turned in 17.3 a night his junior season leading to Class AAAAAA Most Improved honors. Against North Atlanta the 6-foot-2 scorer poured in 26 points, assaulting the basket. Hunter went 16-of-18 from the foul line, crafting his way into the paint at will. With Mekhail Bethea sidelined with a leg injury, Hunter shined and got buckets when needed.

See Ya Seniors
Coach Eugene Brown addressing the Panthers after a win over St. Pius

Four seniors with major experience and a combined 29.8 points per game between them have left the Southwest DeKalb program. The mass exodus is quite ponderous, but Southwest has more than enough to be competitive with talent dripping from the Class of 2020.

Point guard KD Johnson is a fierce competitor that makes all the plays down the stretch. Johnson seemingly has a magnetic pull to the rim, always finding a way to slice and dice his way to the cup and finish strong. Johnson has the chance to be one of Georgia’s best finishers by the time he’s a senior. While he is a respectable three-point shooter, if he can improve his stroke even more, it will be tough to stop him.

Eugene Brown III is still a gazelle on the floor and looks taller every time I see him. Brown is about 6-foot-3 and has a chance to squeeze at least two more inches out of his frame. Brown can handle the ball in transition and covers ground quickly with his long strides. Playing key minutes as a freshman alongside Johnson will bode extremely well over the course of the twosome’s career.

6-foot-6 rising junior James Glisson III showed promise in the Panthers’ 47-44 comeback victory over St. Pius. Glisson finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Senior Demarion Johnson will be asked to provide leadership on a young team. He was active against St. Pius, using his 6-foot-3 build to snag nine points and five rebounds.

Same old St. Pius

With nearly everyone back from last year’s Class AAAA state runner-up roster, St. Pius is still one of Georgia’s most efficient offenses that maneuver with precision cuts and passes. Everett Lane looks ready to grab ahold of the No. 1 option title if there is one in St. Pius’ balanced attack. Lane has thrust his way into the discussion as one of the best shooters in the Class of 2018.

Floor general Matt Gonzalo enters his junior season and continues to orchestrate the offense at a high clip and handle opposing ball pressure. He is the type of player who won’t wow you with big numbers, but if you see him in person you will truly be able to appreciate what he brings to the table.

The Golden Lion forwards had a nice weekend. Zach Ranson played above the rim and finished around the hoop. Rising junior Patrick Snipes caught my eye with his work out of the post, facing up and using his quickness to get by defenders and create advantages.

Milton Maturing
Donaven Hairston

Milton is looking to restore their momentum after an interesting season resulted in just a 14-14 record, but good enough to steal a Region 5 title away from Lambert. Gone is Duke-signee Alex O’Connell, meaning the keys to the car officially belong to rising sophomore point guard Christian Wright. Wright had just six points against St. Pius, but he showed he could turn the corner and get in the lane when he felt like it. Teams will surely key in on slowing him down this year meaning Donaven Hairston will have to step up. The 2019 point guard is slight of frame but still can sneak past defenders and score in traffic. He turned it on in the second half against St. Pius, scoring 17 of his game-high 18 in the frame.

Cherokee County’s Finest
Adrian Cohen lines up a foul shot

Etowah is now the team to beat in Cherokee County after peaking at the right time and capturing a Region 4-AAAAAAA championship and a Sweet 16 berth. Coach Jason Dasinger takes over as head coach and will look to continue to ride the momentum that Milton head man Allen Whitehart put in motion. Dasinger inherits a very good group headed by Jaxon Etter, Adrian Cohen and Julian Baldwin.

Etter, a late blooming 2019 who really came out of nowhere last year, is a steady 6-foot-3 guard with deceptive quickness. He works all levels of the floor and can score the ball. Etter uses controlled dribbles, backdowns and head fakes to ensure he gets clean looks. He poured in 23 points and five rebounds in a 52-51 loss vs. Tri-Cities.

Cohen is a 6-foot-5 wing that has been putting it all together and has a chance to stamp himself as a Low Major prospect with a good senior season. His three-point shot is now a weapon after diversifying his game from just being a slasher.

Baldwin was not in attendance at camp meaning Carter Ingersoll took his minutes. The rising senior is an old school post that uses positioning and body control to score inside. He takes his time and is methodical while working the pivot and showcases some nifty post moves. He finished with 11 points and nine rebounds against Tri-Cities.

Tri-Cities Impresses
Jon Young

Tri-Cities can shoot the ball when they are on. The surprise Class AAAAAA quarterfinalist used a difficult Region 5 to prepare themselves for the state tourney. The Bulldogs have some firepower coming back and see some new faces join the roster as well.

DaMarcus Johnson is a microwave scorer at point guard. The 2019 shooter can catch fire from deep. He is 6-foot on a good day but makes the most out of his size with his quick burst and ability to create his own shot. To play at the next level, Johnson will need to continue to work on making his teammates better.

One teammate who should easily benefit is 6-foot-4 senior Eli Lawrence. The lanky lefty is lights out when he gets going. He dropped in 15 points in a win over Etowah. Lawrence will be joined by Jon Young, who was fabulous in the first half, scoring 16 of his 18 points. Young was on fire, drilling threes and scoring off the bounce. He will benefit from Johnson and Lawrence’s scoring threat. Young is now on his third school entering his senior year. He began at Westlake and bounced to New Manchester for his junior season before coming to Tri-Cities.

6-foot-7 Zachary Morgan brings an interesting dynamic to the Bulldogs. He is a grown man inside strapped with muscle. He didn’t get many opportunities to score the ball, but he showed he could face up and attack the hoop. Defensively, he can alter shots and clean the glass.

Georgia Tech camp Team Reviews Part 1

By Trent Markwith (@TMarkwith14)

Southwest DeKalb

Coach Eugene Brown addressing the Panthers after a win over St. Pius

With the departure of some 2018 players, SWD sported a very young team at GT this weekend. Even with this youth, SWD looked pretty good and had nice wins over Milton and St. Pius. SWD looks to be led by KD Johnson, who has been making some noise with the GA Stars on the travel circuit. Johnson is a fiery competitor and exceptional athlete who gets to the basket whenever he wants, he is a prospect to keep an eye on in Georgia’s 2020 class. Along with Johnson in the backcourt is Eugene Brown III, another 2020 guard. Brown is a long, wiry player who displayed a nice offensive skill set with solid ball-handling and finishing in transition, and an effective jumper. SWD also has two productive forwards in James Glisson and Demarion Johnson. Glisson provides a big body down low, has a soft touch around the basket, and stays active on the glass on both ends. Johnson is a tough player who plays with a lot of energy and excels in his role on this team as someone who doesn’t demand the ball much but defends, rebounds, and finishes inside. This SWD team could definitely have a successful year as their young players continue to develop and mature.

Milton

Donaven Hairston

This weekend, Milton was led by three different players who all had impressive moments throughout the camp. Christian Wright, Ulyric Linton, and Donaven Hairston all look ready to have solid seasons for the Eagles. Wright (2020) and Hairston (2019) share ball-handling responsibilities in the backcourt and are both confident with the ball. Wright has a crafty handle and mature body for a 2020 player, which he uses to get inside for either fancy finishes or kick-outs when the defense collapses. Hairston is a speedy guard that can score in bunches with finesse inside and perimeter shots off both the dribble and catch. Linton (2018) was aggressive the entire weekend; the strong, left-handed wing was consistently looking to get inside and finish through contact in each of Milton’s games. Others who saw a lot of time were Evan Hurst, Vince Graves, and Brady O’Connell. Hurst, a 2020 guard, has a smooth game and provided some scoring for the Eagles. Graves and O’Connell both give good length and athleticism to the team; look for new coach Allen Whitehart to get more out of them in terms of activity and intensity. Milton definitely missed the production and energy of JP McGhee this weekend but expect Coach Whitehart to have this squad prepared for 2017-18 as they become more disciplined and find their identity.

St. Pius X

The Golden Lions played like you would expect from a state runner-up at Tech. Pius is one of the most well-rounded, fundamental teams that you will see in Georgia and that was on display this weekend. Highlighted by crisp ball movement and unselfishness on offense, Pius was able to get quality looks throughout the camp. They also played suffocating full-court defense that you might not expect from a team in early June, this pressure surprised teams and forced them into frequent turnovers. It seems like this team will be led by scorer Everett Lane and facilitating PG Matt Gonzalo, but there are many other capable players on the Pius team that will give quality minutes. Zach Ranson, Brian Gonzalo, Troy Stephens, Niko Broadway, and Patrick Snipes will all produce for the Golden Lions as well. I was most impressed with the energy and chemistry that Pius plays with. There aren’t any players with their own agenda on this team, things flow smoothly because it doesn’t matter who scores and each player wants to see the others do well. The entire team, whether on the bench or in the game, is loud and you can sense energy being given off from one player to another. These traits keep Pius intense and locked in the whole game, it easy to see why they have been one of the better programs in Georgia for a while now.

Etowah

Adrian Cohen lines up a foul shot

Coming off a region championship and Sweet 16 appearance, Etowah is looking to follow up with success again this season and showed the potential to do so over the weekend. New coach Jason Dasinger is one of the most intense coaches you’ll see and he has his guys playing with great effort. The Eagles were led by versatile backcourt players Jaxon Etter and Adrian Cohen, both are bigger guards that can handle the ball. Etter is fearless going to the basket and gets there with ease due to his combination of speed and strength. Etter has also improved as a shooter since I saw him in the spring, hitting multiple mid-range shots and threes. Cohen is a well-built slasher who excels in transition and is starting to develop a reliable outside shot. In the frontcourt, Julian Baldwin is a long, athletic player who rebounds well and finishes with ease off of put-backs and drop-offs. With Baldwin gone on Sunday, Carter Ingersoll picked up his play and had a good day. Ingersoll showed good post moves and footwork inside, to go along with a nice short corner jumper. Ingersoll may be somewhat undersized for a post player but he is an excellent rebounder and understands how to score down low. Etowah’s offensive skill paired with their defensive energy should have this Eagles team poised to make a run at another region championship.

SEBA Atlanta Hoop Festival recap

SEBA held its 9th annual Atlanta Hoop Festival at Pope High School. The event, run by William LoPresti, featured five games. I was in the building to check out the first three games of the day. Here are some notes from the action.

Game 1: Duluth 89, Sprayberry 68

 

Junior guard Adam Flagler set a SEBA record, pouring in 43 points. The smooth shooting guard drained 9 threes and didn’t start missing until he took some heat checks late in the game. Flagler has played great this year under Coach Cabral Huff and has definitely put his name on the radar of college coaches. Daylan “DJ” Smith and Jalen Hodges were second and third in command for the Wildcats. Hodges posted 13 points and 7 rebounds as a springy unsigned forward that goes about 6-foot-5. Smith, a junior guard, netted 14. Duluth was without 6-foot-10 sophomore Alex Powell.

Sprayberry saw Eddie Figueroa drop in 26 points before injuring his ankle late in the fourth quarter. The unsigned senior showed nice ball handling and a competitiveness to keep his team in the game for three quarters before Duluth finally ran away with it, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 25-15 in the fourth. Khadim Samb added 8 points and 9 rebounds. Andrew Giles methodically worked his way around the bucket for 10 points.

Top Performers

Adam Flagler poured in a SEBA record 43 points

 

Duluth
Adam Flagler – 43 points (9 threes), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Jalen Hodges – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
DJ Smith – 14 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal

Sprayberry
Eddie Figueroa – 26 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 4 steals
Khadim Samb – 8 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
Andrew Giles – 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block

 

Game 2: Hillgrove 52, No. 4 St. Pius 39

 

St. Pius was held to two points in the second quarter as they saw Hillgrove race ahead to a 31-15 halftime lead. Heavy legs from two wars this week along with a Demeirre Black onslaught was too much to recover from. Black, a 6-foot senior guard, popped off from his first touch. Black was tight off the dribble, getting to the left wing and pulling up for three straight jumpers to open the game. He scored 11 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the first quarter alone. Black plays bigger than his size and uses his quick leaping to crash the glass. He finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and 4 steals as Coach Ed Morris’ go-to guy. Trey Stevens provided offense off the bench with 10 points.

The Golden Lions couldn’t hit a shot all game until the fourth quarter when they made a late run, but could never close to within single digits. They hit four threes in the final period but again, it was Black stemming the tide with a hoop. Carson Seramur led St. Pius with 8 points, but they all came in the first quarter. Zach Ranson got off to a slow start, but he battled hard on the glass and finished with 11 rebounds.

Top Performers

Demeirre Black played bigger than his 6-foot frame, dropping 25 points & 14 rebounds

Hillgrove
Demeirre Black – 25 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals
Trey Stevens – 10 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 block

St. Pius
Carson Seramur – 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 block
Zach Ranson – 4 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist
Niko Broadway – 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal

 

Game 3: No. 4 North Cobb Christian 51, No. 3 South Paulding 49

 

A true stunner as South Paulding saw a 40-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter slip away. The Spartans out-physicaled and out-toughed the Eagles for the majority of the game, but Demiere Brown was a one-man wrecking crew. South Paulding held a 25-16 lead at the half after DJ Jackson buried a three at the buzzer.  Jackson played great for Coach Gil Davis as the floor general picked up the slack scoring 15 points while Ja’Cori Wilson played sporadic minutes with a stomach bug before fouling out with 5 points with South Paulding nursing a 44-34 lead with 5:49 to play.

Upon his departure, North Cobb Christian closed on a 17-5 run to steal a victory away from the Spartans, riding Brown. The powerful 6-foot-6 senior wing poured in 31 points and 14 rebounds, pounding away at South Paulding’s smaller guards. Brown has to find a home at the D-1 level. That strength and diversity of ways to score the ball is something programs across the country must covet. He didn’t settle for too many threes and buttered his bread around the basket today.

South Paulding admittedly took the air out of the ball too soon while dealing with foul trouble and a lack of size. It wasn’t until the 4:57 mark when Hunter Norman tossed an alley-oop to Mo Merritt to make it 44-38 that I actually felt that North Cobb Christian had a chance. The Eagles’ fan base went rabid as all the momentum officially swung into their corner. The Spartans still could have put the game away, but Georgia State-signee Kane Williams couldn’t find his touch from the foul line. He went 5-of-10 in the fourth quarter and 7-of-14 for the game. Aside from his free throw woes, Williams was able to affect the game from the floor. He finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals while getting others involved.

North Cobb Christian got a huge lift down the stretch from Norman, Nate Perrin and Will Crumly. Perrin didn’t play much, but he came off the bench and rattled in a three to make it 47-43 with 3:14 remaining. I warned that Crumly was still dangerous even though he was ice cold for three quarters from deep. Crumly blocked a Williams shot inside and a minute later he drilled a three to bring the score to 49-48 with 1:09 to play. Crumly put the ball on the floor and got to the line and split a pair of free throws to knot the game at 49 with 1:00.

With South Paulding holding for one shot, Parker Berry lost his dribble in front of Norman who pounced on the floor to give the Eagles the ball with 24.9 left.

North Cobb Christian held for one shot and they found Brown on a duck-in in the middle of the lane. He caught it and hit a lefty hook with 1.8 seconds left.

Originally, they let the clock run off. North Cobb Christian stormed the court and mobbed Brown in a dogpile, but after reviewing, the officials put the correct 1.8 seconds left on the clock. The referees had the opportunity to call a technical with the Eagles team running on the floor, but due to the circumstances they let it go.

South Paulding had one last look when freshman Knowledge Ruben heaved from half court, but his shot bounced off the rim leaving the Spartans shell-shocked and the Eagles jubilant.

 

Top Performers

Demiere Brown is a defense’s nightmare. He had 31 points & 14 rebounds.

North Cobb Christian
Demiere Brown – 31 points, 14 rebounds, 1 steal
Mo Merritt – 5 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block
Will Crumly – 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks
Chase Savage – 6 points, 1 rebound

South Paulding
Kane Williams – 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals
DJ Jackson – 15 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 3 steals
Drew Shepherd – 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals
Ja’Cori Wilson – 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block

Most Dangerous 4-Seeds

February Frenzy is finally here. Over 100 brackets have been submitted to the Sandy’s Spiel bracket challenge so now it is time to highlight a couple of the most dangerous 4-seeds looming in the tournament throughout each classification.

Class AAAAAA

Two 4-seeds stand above the rest in the state’s highest classification. Grayson (20-8) and Douglas County (16-11) will not be pushovers. Both teams spent time in the top ten this year before faltering late. The Rams looked as if the 2-seed or at worst 3-seed was going to be theirs coming out of Region 8, but instead the Central Gwinnett Black Knights stunned them in the consolation game, 87-78. The Rams draw No. 1 ranked Wheeler in round one, the defending state champs. Grayson will need heroic performances from senior guards Alphonso Willis and Austin Dukes. Both average over 17 points per game and have been groomed in one of this year’s deepest regions. Wheeler’s weakest spot on the floor is point guard. If Dukes and Willis can exploit that position as a liability, the Rams have a chance to hang around. Tre Sconiers is an active forward that hits the glass well. He and freshman Kenyon Jackson, a 6-foot-5 center averaging just under 10 rebounds and four blocks a game, will have their hands full with Georgia Tech signee Romello White and North Florida signee Al-Wajid Aminu.

Douglas County doesn’t have a sexy record, but it isn’t for a lack of competition. Region 3 was an all-out war with No. 2 Westlake and No. 7 Pebblebrook leading the pack. The Tigers still managed a 10-4 region record, powered by North Carolina signee Brandon Robinson. The swingman can take games over as he averaged 23 points per game and netted 33 at Holiday Hooopsgiving in a win over 5A No. 3 McIntosh. The Tigers get the guard-heavy No. 8 Newton Rams out of Region 2. JD Notae, Jaquan Simms and Ashton Hagans can all score the ball, but their ability to defend will be put to the test against the explosive Tigers.

Class AAAAA

Jones County (15-12) opened the season ranked No. 9 but quickly fell out of the poll and never returned. It has become the Devin Wooten show for Coach Dennis Woolfolk. The senior guard pops in 24.5 points per game and is one of the state’s leading scorers. Landravious Bowden has picked up his play as of late averaging over 16 points and close to seven rebounds a night. The Greyhounds are still looking for their signature victory, falling three times to No. 7 Warner Robins: 76-68, 96-90 2OT and 78-72 in the Region 2 semis. They are matched up with Region 3’s Camden County. The Wildcats started out the year 13-0 and cracked the top ten before falling back to the pack. Camden heated up again at the end of the season and marched to the region title, defeating Statesboro in the championship. Point guard Johnathon Canada presents an interesting challenge for Jones County as he averages 8.7 points and 9.8 assists.

Class AAAA

No. 8 St. Pius (22-6) is a 4-seed. It doesn’t get much scarier than that. Ranked in the top five for most of the season, the Golden Lions faltered as they let a 15-point lead slip away to No. 3 Grady in the semifinals before falling in overtime to Columbia. Luckily for Coach Aaron Parr and senior forward Kerney Lane, they draw one of the weakest regions in the state in terms of competition level in Region 7. Cartersville will have more athletes than the Golden Lions but it will be Coach Mike Tobin’s job to take advantage of it. The Golden Lions have seen and defeated athletes and talented teams, scoring wins over Grady and No. 4 Lithonia throughout the year, so they will not be intimidated. St. Pius is a trendy pick to meet No. 1 Jonesboro in a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 showdown. Another dangerous team is Eastside (20-9). Junior guard Isaiah Miller pumps in 25.3 points a night and will be tested by Westover, a 17-11 1-seed out of Region 1, and its trio of talented guards Allec Williams, Jordan Brown and Kris Gardner.

Class AAA

Southwest-Macon (17-9) enjoyed a lengthy stay in the top ten before tumbling late in the year, but they are still a scary team for No. 3 Laney to draw. Senior forward Justin Slocum stands 6-foot-6 and is a beast to guard, averaging 22.4 points and 13.6 rebounds. Junior point guard Nick Hargrove is a gem as well posting 21.1 points and 5.9 assists. Hargrove especially, will be tested by the most seasoned backcourt in the state, Zep Jasper (College of Charleston) and Christian Keeling (Charleston Southern). The two are the epitome of the word “winner” and have rallied the Wildcats from the jaws of defeat countless times this year to run up a 24-2 record. Keeling averages 24 points and 6.5 rebounds while Jasper adds 20.6 points, 4.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds. If the Patriots are able to exploit their size advantage inside with Slocum and if Hargrove can hold his own, this could turn into one of the best first round games in the state.

Class AA

No. 7 Seminole County (19-7). Do I need to say any more? The defending state champs saw their season end on rocky terms, losing three of their last four games, but the dynamic duo of Jordan Harris (UGA) and Anfernee King still remain. The two combine for over 48 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists, 9 steals and 3 blocks per game. The Indians are still the only team to have beaten No. 1 Thomasville, proving they can turn things on. First they will have the challenge of defeating No. 2 Crawford County, the team the Indians beat in the finals last year. The forward combo of Will Jarrell and Marcal Knolton put up video game numbers similar to that of the guards of Seminole County. Expect points to be scored in bunches and for the Eagles to make sure Harris doesn’t hang another 41-piece on them again.

Region upsets shake state picture

Just a day after defending Class AAAAA state champion Brunswick fell to Statesboro in the Region 3 tournament, eliminating the Pirates from postseason contention, more madness rocked the state.

The Statesboro Blue Devils struck again, defeating No. 9 Effingham County, bouncing the Rebels to the consolation game after Effingham had not lost a region game all year. The fifth-seeded Blue Devils now meet two-seed Camden County for the region title and a number one seed heading into state.

Stunners rattled the landscape of Class AAAA. Region 1’s top-seed No. 9-ranked Monroe was hammered by fifth-seed Westover 61-43. The Patriots advance to the region title where they will matchup with two-seed No. 10 Bainbridge. Tyree Crump (UGA) and the Bearcats are peaking at the right time, winners of six-straight. They advanced to the championship after dispatching of three-seed Worth County 80-59.

Region 1 gets Region 4 in round one. No. 1 Jonesboro blew past the second-seeded No. 8 Eagle’s Landing Eagles 70-52. In the championship the Cardinals meet opposite number one-seed and No. 7-ranked Walnut Grove. The Warriors rallied past three-seed Eastside 51-47 last night. The two-time defending state champion Cardinals are the favorite to three-peat this year and are expected to win their region, but the first round of state won’t be a cakewalk as they will draw either No. 9 Monroe or Worth County, a team which has spent time in the top ten and boasts one of the best frontcourts in the state with 6-foot-8 power forward Anfernee McLemore heading to Auburn and 6-foot-5 Brandon Moore, who posts over 22 points and 12 rebounds per game.

In Region 6-AAAA No. 4 St. Pius blew a 50-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter against No. 5 Grady. The Knights were fouled attempting a three with 1.6 seconds left in a tied game and sank all three free throws to overcome a 15-point deficit and win 59-56. Grady now plays No. 2 Lithonia in the region championship while St. Pius plays fifth-seed Columbia.

Class AA’s defending state champ No. 2 Seminole County lost to No. 9 Early County 73-66 in Region 1. The Indians will face fourth-seed Fitzgerald in the consolation game while No. 1 Thomasville draws the Bobcats with the top-seed out of one of the state’s toughest regions up for grabs. If things go chalk in Region 4 with No. 4 Crawford County advancing to the region title game and beating No. 8 Macon County, if Seminole County were to lose to Fitzgerald, or if the Indians won and Crawford County lost, the opening round of the state tournament would see a 2015 state title rematch between Seminole County and Crawford County, a high-flying game the Indians won 76-71.

The upset of the night took place in Region 4-AAA. No. 7 Westminster entered its game with Jackson-Atlanta, winners of 21-straight and holding a 22-2 record. After dispatching of four-seed Jackson-Atlanta in the middle of January, 52-44 at Jackson, the Wildcats looked like a lock to advance to state. The Jaguars entered at 14-11 overall and 4-6 in region play, but it did not stop them from stunning the Wildcats 53-48 and in the process eliminating Westminster from making the state playoffs.

21-straight wins, only three losses on the year and all Westminster has to show for it is nothing at all. That is the definition of playoff basketball and that is what makes the March to Macon, or February Frenzy, so unpredictably great.