Category Archives: GHSA

GHSA High School Basketball Preview & Predictions

Move over March Madness, the GHSA State Basketball Tournament has begun and with it brings the new phrase, “February Frenzy”. No ice storm can prevent some of the best players in the state from taking the court and putting on a show for all in attendance. A few Tuesday games have been pushed back to Wednesday due to the weather, but the action has already begun. It’s time to break down the brackets and see how things might pan out.

Class AAAAAA

            There is no shortage of dangerous teams in the tournament this year. Defending champ  Tift County (26-1) have to potential to set up a rematch of last year’s state title with Wheeler (25-2) if the two schools are able to advance to the Elite Eight in the bottom right side of the bracket. A potential dark horse is No. 3 seed, North Gwinnett (14-13). After a slow start, the Bulldogs have won eight of their last ten games and are led by the explosive Kam Calhoun. They first will have to get past Dacula (19-8) who is loaded Kevon Tucker, Keshawn Gibbs, and Derek St. Hilaire. The top right bracket features an interesting first round matchup between Langston Hughes (21-7) and Hillgrove (21-5). The youthful Panthers are led by sophomores Chuma Okeke and Khalil Cuffee. Cuffee however has been sidelined with an ankle and is questionable to play. Coach Ed Morris has built Hillgrove into a perennial power and guards Collin Sexton and Jourdan Julian make them a tough out. Tucker (26-2) has transitioned to 6A smoothly after dropping to rival Miller Grove a year ago in the 5A Elite Eight. Auburn-signee Bryce Brown leads the Tigers along with running mates Avinde Russell and Jonathon Stephens. No. 2 Duluth (20-8) is another battle tested team coming out of Region 7. Anthony Showell, Joseph Gordon, Khair Jefferies are all lethal surrounding AJ Cheeseman and Obinna Ofodile inside. The top left bracket seemingly will lead to a crash course between Norcross (25-3) and Pebblebrook (23-5). The Blue Devils have won 16-straight games and would meet the Falcons in the Elite Eight. High Point-bound Ricky Madison and Rayshaun Hammonds fuel the Norcross front court. A tussle with Pebblebrook’s Derek Ogbeide (UGA) and guards Ty Hudson (Clemson) and Jared Harper would make for one of the best games in the tournament. Shiloh (23-3) looks like the favorite to come out of the bottom left. Kareem Brewton and Josh Okogie give the Generals a dynamic duo that can challenge any tandem. Prediction: Tift, Tucker, Pebblebrook, Shiloh

The girl’s field may be the strongest in all of the state. The lower left side of the bracket is loaded with North Forsyth (23-4), Parkview (24-3), and Osborne (24-2). On the top side, Westlake (27-2) already survived a scare from Hillgrove, but things won’t get any easier as they play the winner of Woodstock (26-1) and West Forsyth (21-5). It will be a tough matchup for Woodstock who is coming off their first loss of the season in the Region 5 championship against Pope. The Wolverines are not very big, but use their great guard play to get past opponents. Sophomore Devyn Lowe is the next in a long line of great guards, as she was named Region Player of the Year. West Forsyth will feed Maryland-signee Jenna Staiti the ball inside. The six-foot-five versatile post is no stranger to big games as she already has a 42 point 17 rebound game under her belt this season. Defending champions McEachern (18-5) is grouped with the likes of Mountain View (22-5) and South Forsyth (24-4) who they would likely meet in the second round. South Forsyth was ranked No. 1 in the state for a majority of the season before tough back-to-back losses to West and North Forsyth to end the season. The War Eagles look to be back on track however as they revenged their loss to North Forsyth by beating them by three to win the Region 6 title. Sarah Myers averages over 20 points per game and is heading to Maryland. Archer (24-5) headlines the bottom right quadrant but Harrison (19-7) and Pope (24-4) should not be slept on. Prediction: Osborne, Norcross, Mountain View, Archer

Class AAAAA

Miller Grove (25-3) is the favorite to win their seventh straight title. Alterique Gilbert is one of the best floor generals in the state and has the hands of a thief. Lamont West gives the Wolverines an inside presence both offensively and defensively.  If Apalachee (19-8) can meet the Wolverines in the Elite Eight, expect Kamar Baldwin to put on a show. The do everything guard averages 27 points and 10 rebounds per game. Allatoona (25-2) looks to be the favorite coming out of its quadrant and would likely face Miller Grove in the Final Four. Bradley Brevet, Ephraim Tshimanga, and Rodney Brown are all dangerous for the ‘Bucs. McIntosh (28-0) is the only undefeated left and should make a deep run behind Jordan Lyons, Will Washington, and Dishon Lowery. Gainesville (24-4) is an extremely dangerous No. 4 seed in the top left quadrant. The Red Elephants feature a balanced attack which is led by Mississippi State-commit D’Marcus Simonds. Along with Simonds, freshman Xavier Bledson, Luke Maddox, and Messiah Dorsey are all dangerous. Freshman forward Bailey Minor is also an x-factor. Prediction: Miller Grove, Allatoona, McIntosh, Gainesville

The field is wide open in the girls bracket. Brunswick (27-0) is a favorite, but they are in a loaded bracket which features Sequoyah (25-3), Stephenson (24-5), and Grovetown (22-5). The Sequoyah Chiefs feature an intimidating frontline anchored by sisters Kelley and Lauren Hartman. Megan Garcia is a three-point specialist that needs to be watched from deep. Greenbrier (25-3) and Mays (24-2) should meet in the Elite Eight. The lower right quadrant seems like the weakest out of the four as No. 1 Hiram has already been disposed of by Miller Grove (15-11). Prediction: Brunswick, Forest Park, Northside, Greenbrier

Class AAAA

Reigning champs Jonesboro (27-1) is on a warpath to repeat. A date with Johnson-Gainesville (27-0) would make for an interesting Elite Eight game. Ty Cockfield averages 28.4 points while running mate Rod English pours in 19.5 a night. The Knights have had some close calls as of late, but Jeff Steele’s team does not know what it’s like to lose. Columbia (18-10), last year’s runner up, is one of the rare teams that can match Carrollton (25-2) inside. Micaiah Henry will go chest-to-chest with Carrollton big man and Georgia Southern-signee Montae Glenn. Avi Toomer and Grady (14-14) could be a surprise No. 3 seed to come out of the upper left quadrant. Lithonia (25-2) is a favorite to make it to the final four. Prediction: Liberty County, Jonesboro, Lithonia, Columbia

Much like the boys team, Jonesboro (27-1) looks like the team to beat. In what could be a state title matchup, the Cardinal would have to face Buford (26-3) who was runner up in AAA last season. St. Pius (26-4) is also in the loaded quadrant. Louisville-signee Asia Durr has been a one woman wrecking crew averaging 31.8 points per game, but her lack of help will be too much to compete with more balanced teams. Veterans (28-1) is dangerous and should battle Marist (22-4) to come out of their side of the bracket. Last year’s champion, Redan (19-7), will have an uphill battle as the No. 4 seed. Carrollton (21-7) meets the Raiders in the first round, and Americus-Sumter (27-1) still looms in their quadrant. Prediction: Burke County, Jonesboro, Americus-Sumter, Veterans

Class AAA

Tookie Brown of Morgan County (20-7) stole the show last year and will look to do so again this season. South Atlanta (25-4) would make for a formidable foe if the two schools met in the Elite Eight. At 7-21, Jefferson snuck into the postseason and is the ultimate Cinderella story. Its bracket is not a kind one as both Laney (26-1) and East Hall (22-5) reside in it. Laney is the likely favorite to win it all this year. The Wildcats’ offense features five players averaging over eight points per game led by JaShawn Brooks’ 13.1. Laney will host No. 4 seed North Clayton (16-12). The Eagles are paced by Reginald Scurry and Taiyon Hector. Jenkins (24-3) is someone who might meet Laney in the title. Malik Benlevi, a Georgia State-signee, is back healthy after a lengthy absence and should give Jenkins a go-to scoring threat. The Warriors fell to Laney by 11 this year. Prediction: Laney, South Atlanta, Cedar Grove, Jenkins

Dawson County (27-0) is the only undefeated team after South Atlanta (27-2) lost in the region title game and then was upset by Washington County (23-6) by three on Tuesday. Dawson County has the strongest low post game in the state headed by Sheyenne Seabolt (15.6 & 7.8) and Ashley Parker (13.4 & 9.3). Karlie Bearden is a defensive stalwart and also averages 8.4 rebounds to go along with 11.5 points and 2.6 blocks. Decatur (27-2) and Kendrick (26-2), last season’s AA champs, look to duke it out for a Final Four spot. Jefferson (21-6) and Beach (23-5) are likely second round foes. The winner should be a front runner to make the Final Four. Peach County (23-3) is the hottest team in their quadrant. The Trojans are anchored by guard Nausia Woolfolk who pours in 25 points, 7.7 rebounds and an absurd 7.1 steals per game. Prediction: Dawson County, Decatur, Beach, Peach County

Class AA

Holy Innocents’ (23-5) is the most dangerous No. 3 seed in the tournament. Crawford County (23-3) could pose problems for defending champ GAC (18-9) in the second round. Pace Academy (25-2) is the favorite to win it all, but a meeting with potentially Vidalia (26-2) in the Elite Eight could cause mismatches. If Reggie Reid can get hot, Harlem (23-4) could creep into the Final Four. Reid, a FGCU-signee, flirts with a triple-double on average going for 22.6 points, 9 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game. Lovett (13-14) is a battle tested four seed that will get a chance to upend No. 1 Manchester (19-8). Prediction: Holy Innocents’, GAC, Pace Academy, Seminole County

Pelham (27-1) and Holy Innocents’ (27-0) have stood out as the teams to beat this year. The two are favorites to meet in the Final Four. Manchester (24-2) has won 22-straight and could meet the Hornets in the Elite Eight. Last year’s runner up, Wesleyan (21-7) faces a tough quadrant that holds Putnam County (23-5), No. 4 Dade County (17-9), and McIntosh County Academy (17-10) all teams with quality wins this season. Vidalia (24-4) may have a chance to thwart Holy Innocents’ championship hopes if they meet in the Elite Eight. Prediction: Thomasville, Wesleyan, Holy Innocents’, Pelham

Class A

The draws come out soon, but even without them there are some heavy favorites. In the Private bracket, St. Francis (25-3) will look to defend its title, but Greenforest (24-1) is a long talented team who could steal the show. FSU-bound Malik Beasley teams up with Xavier-signee Kaiser Gates and 5-star junior Kobi Simmons to give St. Francis one of the most talented teams in the state. Greenforest is no slouch either. Justin Ravenel, Precious Ayah, Justin Forrest, and John Ogwuche should all play at the next level. And don’t forget 7-foot-1 center Ikey Obiagu who anchors the paint inside for the Eagles. Athens Christian (27-0) point guard ‘Turtle’ Jackson is signed at UGA. The public side features Calhoun County (26-2) and Hancock Central (23-2) who will attempt to knock off Wilkinson County (24-4) from its perch. Prediction: St. Francis & Hancock Central

A loaded girls friend features St. Francis (24-3) as the favorites to take the Private crown, but defending champion SW Atlanta Christian (25-3) will look to hold off the Knights other strong challengers. Taylor County (27-0) leads the public field with Claxton (22-4) and Turner County (25-2) as head contenders. Prediction: SWAC & Turner County

W2W4: Front Runners & Dark Horses Entering Postseason Play

As region tournament play in high school basketball nears, let’s take a look at some of the favorites and potential dark horses in each classification. It has been another exciting year of action packed basketball and I’ll do my best to shed some light on what has happened this season and what to look forward to as the nets get cut in March.

Class AAAAAA

Georgia’s largest classification has been home to one of the biggest slobber knocker regions in the state. Region 7 has had a must-see slate all season long. Collins Hill (17-6, 7-5) was sitting pretty a few weeks in after new head coach Ty Baumgardner successfully installed his system, but No. 4 Norcross (20-3, 11-1) has roared ahead of the pack and are riding an 11-game win streak. Ricky Madison and Rayshaun Hammonds lead one of the state’s tallest rosters. Duluth (17-6, 8-4) has played exceptionally well and may play the spoiler in the region tourney. In Region 6, Alpharetta (19-4, 16-0) and Lambert (18-5, 13-3) pose threats that could knock off nearly anybody. The Raiders rely on UNC-Wilmington-commit Devontae Cacok and Jaylon Gamble to battle inside while the Longhorns have a plethora of guards who can lead the team in scoring any given night. Wheeler (21-2 14-0), the No. 1 team in the state, resides in Region 5. Shembari Phillips (Tennessee) and No. 2 ranked Jaylen Brown believe the road to state runs through Holt Rd. No. 3 Pebblebrook (17-5, 11-0) is extremely dangerous and has played a monstrous national schedule. Last year’s state champs, No. 2 Tift County (22-1, 6-0) has flown under the radar in south Georgia and are prepared to defend its title.

            Class AAAAA

No. 1 Miller Grove (21-3, 13-0) is the odds on favorite to make it seven straight state titles. Alterique Gilbert is a true leader and a defensive stalwart. No. 2 McIntosh (23-0, 16-0) is the only undefeated left and relies on the versatile Jordan Lyons and Dishon Lowery to wipe out opponents. Head coach Markus Hood once again has No. 3 Allatoona (22-2, 17-0) clicking on all cylinders in Region 5 using a balanced scoring attack. A potential dark horse is Apalachee (17-6, 9-3). Junior guard Kamar Baldwin is a top player in the state averaging over 27 points and 10 rebounds a night. The Wildcats have already knocked off No. 4 Gainesville (20-2, 10-1) and Mississippi State-commit D’Marcus Simonds once this year.

Class AAAA

No. 1 Jonesboro (23-1, 14-0) is as tough as they come and are riding a 22-game winning streak. M.J. Walker is a five-star sophomore that ignites the Cardinals’ offense. No. 2 Johnson (22-0, 6-0) might be small in the frontcourt, but the scoring combo of Rod English (19.6) and Ty Cockfield (29.2) make them one of the most exciting teams to watch. Wins over Class A powers North Cobb Christian (15-8, 10-0), and No. 5 Whitefield Academy (16-8, 8-2) along with signature victories over No. 4 Gainesville, Apalachee, and Buford (13-11, 6-1) have the Knights believing a deep run in state is more probable than possible. No. 5 Carrollton (20-2, 8-0) behind big man Montae Glenn will likely pose issues throughout the tournament. One sleeper who may feel disrespected about not being ranked, is Heritage (21-3, 12-1). The Generals’ 21 wins is the most by a team to not be ranked.

Class AAA

Two schools figure to be a cut above the rest right now as No. 1 Laney (22-1, 10-0) and No. 2 Jenkins (20-3, 11-0) standout as powerhouses. After dropping its first game of the season to Class A’s No. 1 St. Francis (20-3, 10-0) 67-64, Laney has gone undefeated including an 11 point win over Jenkins. Defending champs No. 4 Morgan County (17-7, 11-0) and Tookie Brown have found their groove and look to make another deep run. The Saints of No. 3 Cedar Grove (16-3, 7-1) are dangerous with Jacara Cross leading the team in points and rebounds. Christopher Fredrick and Kenneth Lewis give Coach James Martin a reliable backcourt night in and night out. The Saints have already beaten Gainesville by 19 and fell to Miller Grove by just four.

            Class AA

After rallying to beat No. 3 Holy Innocents’ (19-4, 9-3), No. 1 Pace Academy (21-2, 12-0) continues to look like the team to beat behind Wendell Carter Jr. and Elijah Holifield. Reggie Reid leads No. 7 Harlem (20-3, 9-2) and nearly averages a triple-double, as the Bulldogs will look to put Harlem, GA on the map.

            Class A

No. 2 Greenforest Christian (19-1, 10-0), No. 3 Athens Christian (22-0, 11-0), and No. 6 Treutlen (20-1, 12-0) might have the best chances of dethroning No. 1 St. Francis. No. 5 Whitefield Academy has been the only team to challenge St. Francis thus far this season with losses of eight points and five points.

Peach State Hoops Shines

Here in the south, it is understood and embedded in southerners that football is king. Small towns shutdown every Friday night to go support their local team and make going to games one of the must-do activities in the summer into fall seasons. Now that football season has since concluded basketball has taken the stage. The little brother to football in the aspects of coverage and pride at times, basketball does not take a back seat to football in talent level. Some of the best high school players in the nation call the peach state home, and they may be closer to your humble abode than you think.

It is time for Georgia high school basketball to get the coverage and respect it deserves, and here at Score Atlanta we are ready to amp up the coverage and let Georgians know that Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays now belong to basketball. Did you know that Wheeler out of Marietta, Georgia is ranked nationally and has the number two ranked player in the entire nation? Jaylen Brown is a 6-foot-7 freak of nature that brings the house down at least once a night with SportsCenter Top Ten worthy dunks. He is still unsigned and has every top program in the nation banging down his door. Couple him with teammate Shembari Phillips who has already committed to Tennessee, and your ticket is already worth the price of admission.

Class AAAAAA has massive talent spread across the state. The No. 2 ranked Pebblebrook Falcons have ascended into being nationally recognized with the trio of Ty Hudson (Clemson), Derek Ogbeide (Georgia), and Jared Harper, who may be the best player on the team but is still deciding amongst colleges. How about a guy that gets it done in both the classroom and the court? Just this week, Milton power forward Chris Lewis verbally committed to Harvard.

Miller Grove, the reigning six-time state champs, is tearing things up once again at Class AAAAA. Alterique Gilbert, a crafty guard who is a floor general, flirts with a triple-double seemingly every night. Pair him with move-in Lamont West, Aidan Saunders, and Gamaun Boykin, and Miller Grove looks like the odds on favorite to make it seven straight titles. Gainesville, the third ranked team at 5A, has some top level talent of its own in D’Marcus Simonds. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard is only a junior, but has committed to play at Mississippi State. One team and player that has flown under the radar is Apalachee led by Kamar Baldwin. The six-foot junior does everything for the Wildcats. In one of the best guard matchups all season long, Baldwin squared off with 4A undefeated Johnson-Gainesville’s Ty Cockfield.  Johnson rallied for an 82-76 victory, but it was the play of the two guards that left everyone buzzing. Baldwin went for 46 points and 13 rebounds, while Cockfield scored 42 of his own. Both players are averaging over 26 points per game and are two of the most exciting guards in the state.

Down in Class AAA, diminutive dynamo Tookie Brown leads Morgan County. The Mississippi State-commit stole the show last season in the state championship when he scored 36 points and led the Bulldogs to a 69-45 title. In Class AA, No. 1 ranked Pace Academy is led by one of the highest touted big men prospects in the nation, sophomore Wendell Carter Jr. The 6-foot-10 tower averages a double-double on the season and has helped Pace go undefeated so far in region play. Greater Atlanta Christian is always loaded with talent, and Seminole County relies on Georgia-commit Jordan Harris to get the job done.

Though Class A is the state’s smallest classification, it definitely is not void of talent. No. 1 St. Francis boasts seniors Kaiser Gates (Xavier), Malik Beasley (FSU), and super junior, five-star Kobi Simmons.

The state of Georgia is more than just a one trick pony when it comes to sports. The football talent is great, but the action on the hardwood is nearly unparalleled. With schools now in the heart of their schedules, it is the perfect time to open up your Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, to watch the stars of tomorrow play today.