Category Archives: Game Stories

Cam Holden’s return powers No. 4 Mary Persons’ 104-point outburst

Contributed by Rob Grubbs   (@RCGJr226070)

No. 4 Mary Persons 104, Lamar County 81

FORYSTH, Ga. – The Mary Persons Bulldogs (6-1) began the week ranked No. 4 in Class AAAA but have the misfortune of being in the same region as the No. 1 ranked Upson-Lee Knights and lost to them on Tuesday with Cam Holden sidelined.  The Bulldogs rebounded with a win on Friday against Howard and then faced off with Lamar County on Saturday at home. The Trojans, from Class AA, came into the game with a record of 3-2, each of those loses were against the same Upson-Lee team. So, both teams were undefeated except for playing the Knights.  Mary Persons would make up for some sloppy early play by going on a second quarter run to put the game away by halftime and cruise to a 104-81 win.

Lamar County jumped out to a 12-6 lead behind three-point shots from Josiah Stewart and Rondez Fletcher. Holden who did not start, entered the game with 4 minutes remaining in the first and immediately hit a three, which sparked a 32-7 Bulldog run. It didn’t help that Trojan leading scorer Dallas Ogletree picked up two quick fouls and had to sit down about the same time Holden started his scoring spree. The Bulldogs outscored the Trojans 44-15 after Holden’s initial three and took a 53-27 lead into halftime.  Holden said, “When I hit that first shot, I knew I was going to be alright.”

The Bulldogs kept the full court pressure dialed in and when they forced Lamar County into a 10 second violation with 6 minutes left in the third, Mary Persons had its biggest lead of the night at 60-29. Ogletree showed his mettle by leading a Trojan run, with no further fouls, he was able to play his game. He would finish with 30 points, 21 of those, including three threes, in the fourth quarter to keep the game respectable.  Bulldog Maurice Shannon hit the jumper that would put them over the 100-point mark.

Afterwards, Coach Nix commented on his pressure defense, “The 2-2-1 zone press is our bread and butter, we love to play swarming, team defense. We were able to force them into some mistakes and make a quick run.” And on his star player Holden, he said, “When it is time to play, he wants to win more than anyone. He makes the other players on the court better.”

Rob’s Takeaways 

  1. Mary Persons Head Coach Greg Nix is in his sixth season at Mary Persons. He has served previous stints at Houston County and Veterans High School. The Bulldogs’ record has improved each season he has been there, and the current team seems prepared to continue that trend (they finished 18-10 last season).
  2. Mary Persons implemented a relentless 2-2-1 zone press off
    made shots. Lamar County guard Dallas Ogletree had the primary responsibility to break the press, but it took him somewhat out of his scoring role.
  3. Mary Persons senior forward Cam Holden plays a smooth, almost effortless game. He can score with ease, but he also distributes and makes his teammates better. He had two college recruiters waiting for him after the game.
  4. While Holden has a talented supporting cast, Lamar County’s Dallas Ogletree must carry more of the offensive load. Had he not gotten into early foul trouble, Mary Persons might not have gone on such a big run to end the first quarter.
  5. While beating Upson-Lee for the region championship is a tall order, Mary Persons should still be a Class AAAA playoff team to reckon with.
  6. Lamar County is 3-3, and those three losses were to the No. 1 and No. 4 ranked teams in AAAA. In their own region (5-AA), they should be able to compete and qualify for the state tournament.

Top Performers

Mary Persons
Cam Holden – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks
Dee Morton – 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Rekia Weaver – 14 points, 3 rebounds
Tre Edge – 13 points, 2 assists, 1 steal
Desmon Williams – 6 points, 8 rebounds

Lamar County
Dallas Ogletree – 30 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
Rondez Fletcher – 14 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists
Kellyn Tyus – 2 points, 9 rebounds

No. 6 McIntosh bursts Starr’s Mill’s bubble 64-54

Contributed by Rob Grubbs   (@RCGJr226070)

No. 6 McIntosh 64, Starr’s Mill 54

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga In Peachtree City, the “Battle of the Bubble” represents any competition between the two rival schools, McIntosh and Starr’s Mill.  All sports are included, but basketball is one of the fiercest, and it’s heightened this season for a couple of reasons. One, both teams are very talented and well coached, they both started the season ranked with the McIntosh Chiefs currently No. 6 and the other, Starr’s Mill Panther three-year starting point guard Zach Pina switched jerseys over the summer when he transferred to McIntosh for his final year. The first installment this season was held at McIntosh which has a unique set up, both student sections are behind the baskets and make for a raucous evening of chants, taunts and fervor. When the night ended, McIntosh remained undefeated (5-0) and got their first home region win of the season.

Pina’s replacement at point for the Panthers (4-2) is Jake Bishop who has plugged in nicely, but an early season injury to their big man, 6-foot-7 Nate Allison has Head Coach Brandon Hutchins adjusting his rotations. For the Chiefs, Pina joins a line-up that features 6-foot-7 sharp-shooting wing player Cole Guenther and explosive guard Chaz Hardin who has emerged as a scoring threat.

After the first quarter of back and forth that saw the Panthers lead by one, the game took on the personality of fast, slashing plays and quickness on defense.

Hardin had a block in the second quarter to keep the game tied at 20-20 and the Chiefs would score off a steal by Bruce Carpenter followed by a steal of the inbound by Pina. Pina’s quickness was causing trouble for the Panthers and in the closing seconds of the half, he collected a steal at half court and drove to the basket for the layup just before the horn sounded for a 23-20 halftime lead. The fans were even getting into the action as the officials had to move the Starr’s Mill student section back one row for touching a player in action.

Hudson started the second half with a three to tie things up and after trading baskets, Guenther got his first points of the game on a three-pointer only to see Panther forward Julian Lynch answer quickly on his end. After a Hudson basket put the Panthers up four with two minutes remaining, the Chiefs took control with a 12-0 run to end the third quarter up 44-36. Chief Head Coach Jason Eisele, who recently just got his 200th career win, showed confidence in his roster by giving his starters extended rest to end the quarter.

McIntosh guard Mills Berry hit a three to start the final quarter for their largest lead of the night. The Panthers would cut the deficit to seven on two occasions, but struggled to get inside against the Chiefs zone defense and never mounted a serious challenge down the stretch as the Chiefs closed out for a 64-54 win.

Hardin led the Chiefs with 23 points while Guenther and Pina both added 10.  Lynch paced the Panthers with 22 points and Hudson had 16. Afterwards, Coach Eisele commented on his team, “We were able to rest our guys in the third because of the depth we have, we are 13 deep and with our flexibility, we can play a lot of different groups.”

Pina played well against his former mates, and Eisele was proud of him. “We knew what to expect, we knew their students were going to be loud, but he remained composed and played his game. He has played in this game seven times, I was proud of how he handled himself.”

The Bubble rematch will move to Starr’s Mill on January 19, 2018 where Pina and the rest of the Chiefs will need that same composure and explosiveness against the Panthers with Allison back in the lineup in a game that will have key region implications.

Top Performers

McIntosh
Chaz Hardin – 23 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals
Cole Guenther – 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 7 blocks
Zach Pina – 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal,

Starr’s Mill
Julian Lynch – 22 points
Drew Hudson – 16 points

LaFayette rambles past Generals behind third quarter dominance

LaFayette 69, Heritage-Catoosa 56

Region 6 bragging rights and first-place were on the line Tuesday night up in Ringgold where Heritage-Catoosa (3-3) hosted LaFayette (4-0).

Knowing that the offense revolves around 6-foot-4 senior forward Jon Morgan and 5-foot-11 junior point guard Alex Kelehear, the Generals opened up the game face guarding Morgan.

It took the Ramblers a moment to figure out the defense and get Morgan the ball, so instead he decided to get it himself off a rebound and score a tough leaner in the lane to open up his scoring and give LaFayette an early 9-6 lead.

Andrew Pendergrass and Morgan combined for 14 first quarter points while the Generals looked to play through 6-foot-5, 225-pound post Cole Wilcox. The UGA baseball-signee went to work early, showing his physicality and passing ability. He and Adam Thacker attacked from the post while Will Allen put in five of his 10 points in the opening quarter.

Kelehear dished out four of his game-high six assists in the first quarter including hitting Morgan for a three to take a 17-14 lead into the second quarter.

The Ramblers started to gain some separation in the second quarter once Kelehear started to hunt his own shot. A transition layup and a pull-up three sparked a 7-2 run to put the LaFayette lead at 24-16 with 6:31 remaining.

With the game slowly inching away, Coach Kevin Terry pounded the ball back inside to Wilcox who worked the high post and found Thacker for an and-1 to stem the tide.

The Generals cut the lead to 31-30 and were about to carry their momentum into the second half but instead it was Kelehear isoing and finding a three off a beautiful reverse pivot to give the Ramblers a 34-30 halftime lead.

Opening up the third quarter, Heritage decided to go Triangle-and-Two on Kelehear and Morgan who scored eight apiece in the first half. Instead, the defensive strategy backfired with LaFayette breaking off a 9-0 run to push ahead 43-30 at the 5:41 mark. With all the focus on Kelehear and Morgan, Pendergrass feasted. After knocking down a handful of foul line jumpers in the opening 16 minutes, Pendergrass opened up to the three-point line where he sniped three long balls and finished with 10 of his team-high 18 points in the quarter.

LaFayette had landed the knockout punch with a 21-8 third quarter, capped by yet another Kelehear iso just before the buzzer, giving the Ramblers an insurmountable 55-38 advantage.

Heritage, who struggled to score from beyond the arc, finally loosened up the defense a little with two late threes, but had to force the ball inside to Wilcox as their only consistent scorer and playmaker. Wilcox scored eight of his game-high 20 points in the final quarter and finished with 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.

My Take

I fully expect LaFayette to win out and run the table in Region 6. There could be a slip up here or there but they are the best team with the most momentum rolling over from last year’s Sweet 16 trip. Alex Kelehear was the real deal at point guard. At 5-foot-11, he’s probably best suited for D-III, NAIA, or the right fit at the D-II level. What he lacks in size and explosiveness, he makes up for with his actual skill and savvy. He could have easily scored 20+ but instead he chose to run the offense and play within himself. He handled the ball well and had a good zip on his passes, the type you see from the state’s best pocket passers. He picked apart Heritage anytime he had an isolation 1-on-1 opportunity. He was so good, hitting two buzzer beaters and assisting on one. He’s exactly who you want to have the ball in their hands at the end of a game. Jon Morgan has some bounce and is another player that could help out a small school. The lefty can knock down the deep ball (two threes), is an active rebounder with nice hands (9 rebounds) and can handle the ball when needed. Andrew Pendergrass is a pure jump shooter, meaning he hardly ever puts the ball on the ground and will catch-and-shoot. LaFayette is very good when he is on. His mid-range jumper was clicking from the first quarter and he expanded it to the three-point line in the second half. Do I think LaFayette can compete with the Upson-Lee’s and St. Pius’ of the world in Class AAAA? No I do not; but with the right draw, LaFayette could scare some teams and advance to the Sweet 16 again. Whoever they will play in Region 5 will likely have more athleticism then they will have seen all year. If Jon Morgan gets in foul trouble, I worry about their interior play. Dee Southern starts at “center”, but is only 5-foot-11. For a Cinderella run, Kelehear will have to hunt his offense more often, Morgan will need to play huge and Andrew Pendergrass must be lights out from deep.

Heritage-Catoosa just didn’t have enough outside shooting. I appreciate them force feeding Cole Wilcox and Adam Thacker inside. They are a good duo at that level. Wilcox got off to a nice start but left a ton of shots short at the rim. The Generals only played six players and really ran out of gas in the third quarter once the Ramblers hit them in the mouth to open.

Top Performers

LaFayette
Andrew Pendergrass – 18 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
Jon Morgan – 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block
Alex Kelehear – 15 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals
Dee Southern – 8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Vyshonn Daniel – 8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

Heritage
Cole Wilcox – 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks
Adam Thacker – 16 points, 9 rebounds
Will Allen – 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists
Luke Grant – 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block

Vassell and Moss set tone as Peachtree Ridge races past rival No. 8 Collins Hill

Peachtree Ridge 75, No. 8 Collins Hill 64

Rivalry games bring out the best in both sides, but on Friday night, it was Peachtree Ridge (5-0) that took full advantage of their home crowd, riding the atmosphere to a controlling 75-64 victory. Looking for a statement win in the deep Region 6-AAAAAAA, the Lions proved that they are more than just a Devin Vassell one-man show.

A quick pace opened the game with both teams trading buckets. Senior point guard Darius Moss set the tone with seven quick points, pushing the ball in transition and attacking the basket. With No. 8 Collins Hill (5-1) primarily focused on stopping Vassell, the Florida State-signee allowed his teammates to flourish, 10 Lions scoring on the night. Vassell whipped in an assist to BJ Knight to give Peachtree Ridge a 20-15 lead after one.

Peachtree Ridge ignited a 12-4 run highlighted by a Vassell slam to take a 32-19 lead at the 5:05 mark in the second quarter and never let Collins Hill cut the deficit back to single digits the rest of the way.

While the Lions were using their balance, the Eagles were relying on Northern Illinois-signee Justin Lee, Elijah Wilson and Mandarius Dickerson to keep them in striking distance. Lee, 6-foot-8, opened the game with the first five points for Collins Hill and added in seven more in the second quarter to head into the half with 12 of his 19 points on the night. Wilson scored six of his nine points in the second quarter but was held scoreless in the second half.

Peachtree Ridge took a 43-32 lead into the half and extended it to as many as 17 points at 58-41 with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles closed on a 7-2 run and could have had even more momentum heading into the final stanza, but Chris Parks missed a breakaway dunk with 24 seconds left and Collins Hill had to settle for a 60-48 hole to dig out of in the fourth quarter after Dickerson netted nine of his team-high 21 points in the third.

Devin Vassell provided the kill-shot at the 5:37 mark of the fourth when he threw down his third dunk of the game to push the lead back to 17 at 67-50. Vassell finished with eight of his game-high 22 points in the final period to close out the Eagles.

My Take

After a fun first 8 minutes, it just looked like Peachtree Ridge wanted it more than their rivals. Devin Vassell poured in a smooth 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks as the Seminole was in control the entire game and didn’t let the festive atmosphere affect him either way. It was Darius Moss who really provided the energy and paced the Lions attack early. He finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists and did a nice job of keeping the pressure on Collins Hill’s guards in transition. 6-foot-11 250-pound junior post Richard Rivers opened up the game with a three-pointer and drilled two on the night. Rivers will be a covetable non-D-1 player with his size and shooting touch. If he can trim down and improve his mobility a little more, it will behoove him at the next level. BJ Knight did a good job of finishing around the rim and I really liked what I saw out of 6-foot-6 junior forward Amari Davis, who entered off the bench and instantly gave Coach Keith Arrington a post presence, collecting 7 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Collins Hill was unable to match Peachtree Ridge’s non-stop energy. Mandarius Dickerson got his with 21 points (3 threes), but couldn’t help the Eagles climb their double-digit hill. Dickerson isn’t a flashy player and won’t necessarily standout, but the 6-foot-2 senior is always good for 14-18 points a night. He will help a program at the next level. Northern Illinois-signee Justin Lee showcased his beautiful touch, but it wasn’t just from the three-point line. He did a very nice job of working the mid-range to the paint and elevating over smaller defenders to kiss the ball off the glass. The only thing I didn’t like was his rebounding total. You can’t be 6-foot-8 in high school and not record a single rebound. I felt like junior Elijah Wilson came out strong in the first half and knocked down two threes, but the 6-foot-3 wing got lost in the shuffle in the second half and didn’t get many looks. I still feel like Collins Hill is at their best when Queens-signee Chris Parks is getting post touches. The 6-foot-5 bruiser’s opportunities were few and far between. I wish there was more of an effort to establish him inside, but credit Richard Rivers and Amari Davis for doing a good job of not allowing him to get position on the block. Senior guard Quincy Carter didn’t light up the scoreboard with 3 points, but he did everything else, tallying 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals.

Top Performers

Peachtree Ridge
Devin Vassell – 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks
Darius Moss – 12 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
BJ Knight – 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist
Richard Rivers – 8 points, 2 rebounds
Amari Davis – 7 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks

Collins Hill
Mandarius Dickerson – 21 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals
Justin Lee – 19 points, 2 assists, 1 steal
Elijah Wilson – 9 points, 5 rebound, 1 assist, 2 steals
Chris Parks – 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Quincy Carter – 3 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals

Young Tigers claw past No. 3 Sandy Creek in white-knuckle tug-o-war at Fayette County

Contributed by Rob Grubbs   (@RCGJr226070)

Fayette County 67, 4ANo. 3 Sandy Creek 65

Fayette County and Sandy Creek went down to the wire

It’s still a week until Thanksgiving, but the menu for early season GHSA basketball games has whetted our appetite for the season ahead.  One such game was the cross-county rivalry between two Final Four teams from last year, the Sandy Creek Patriots from AAAA and Fayette County from AAAAA. Playing before two huge student sections, the game stayed within six points the entire night. The ending was dramatic, as the Tigers would score the winning basket on their last possession for the 67-65 win.

Coach Andre Flynn is back on the Tiger bench, he has coached there for over 20 years, but the players that took them to the Final Four in Columbus have moved on. He is working with a clean slate, but because of his consistency and the system he employs, the new players know exactly how they fit in. This year’s group is built around athleticism and discipline. For Sandy Creek, they brought back much of the talent that took them to Augusta last year for the semifinals but have welcomed a new coach, Jon-Michael Nickerson. Coach Nickerson, who comes with an impressive resume as a player, high school coach and college coach, brings a more defensive mindset than the past. He has a deep, talented roster with height and leadership.

On this night, there was a buzz before the tip that lasted until the final whistle, both coaches and players would say it’s early, this is a non-region game, it is not that important in the grand scheme of things, but actually, it was important to them and their play proved that. In a game that was crisp and full of athleticism and sportsmanship, Sandy Creek took a two-point lead to half. You could tell the defensive energy that both coaches were looking for was there which kept the game low scoring.

The fourth quarter, which started with Fayette County ahead 48-45 was almost a blur. It felt like the first three quarters were warm up and this was for real. Josh Dupree and Rickey Knight would hit back-to-back threes to give the Tigers the largest lead of the night at six, only to see Sandy Creek come back. Jarred Godfrey would hit two threes himself within 15 seconds of each other and with 2:50 remaining, the Patriots were up 60-59.  Ultimately, it came down to a tie game with under a minute. Fayette County point guard JeKobe Coleman, an ELCA transfer, worked from the top of the key as the Tigers waited patiently for their opportunity. With 9 seconds remaining, Coleman found Jordan Brown who had snuck in behind the Patriot zone defense for the game winning shot.

Sandy Creek had eight seconds, but Josh Dupree stole the basketball and ended the night

Afterwards Flynn said, “Our guys are so young, you don’t know how they will compete until the game starts, we did not play well on Saturday in a loss to East Coweta, but I am proud of how they fought tonight. We want to see how they respond when they get beat up because it gives you an indication of the growth. We will need to continue to grow as the year goes on.”

Takeaways

  1. JeKobe Coleman threw the pass to Brown for the winning score just like he did this season for the Fayette County football team as their QB. He was very calm and collected, the moment was not too big for the sophomore.  It is always great to see the two sport athletes play.
  2. Jarred Godfrey has bought into Coach Nickerson’s philosophies on the court. Godfrey has developed into a true leader, the college watching last night loved his performance.
  3. Patriot Kameron Miller has one speed – wide open; he scored, he passed, he rebounded and he was everywhere.
  4. The Tigers are young and are liable to have a bad game from time to time, but they are good and will get better.
  5. The Patriots lineup of Miller, Godfrey, TJ Bickerstaff, Xavier Brewer and Julian Alexander has a good mix of height and quickness.
  6. Look for both teams to make noise in the post season.

Top Performers

Fayette County
Rickey Knight – 20 points, 2 rebounds
Josh Dupree – 15 points, 2 rebounds
Terrell Bradley – 14 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists
JeKobe Coleman – 9 points, 2 assists

Sandy Creek
Jarred Godfrey – 22 points, 3 rebounds
TJ Bickerstaff 22 points, 11 rebounds
Kam Miller – 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists