3A Must See Games

Here is a quick rundown on some of the best 3A matchups between GHSA teams this season:

Class AAA

11/20 – North Atlanta5A at No. 10 South Atlanta
11/21 –Westminster vs. No. 5 Sandy Creek4A
11/24 – No. 4 East Jackson at No. 3 Westlake6A
11/28 – No. 3 Morgan County vs. No. 1 Lithonia4A (Hardwood Jam Fest)
11/28 – No. 4 East Jackson vs. Grayson6A (On the Radar Hoops)
11/28 – Riverwood5A at No. 6 Blessed Trinity
12/4 – No. 3 Morgan County at No. 1 Laney
12/4 – No. 6 Blessed Trinity at No. 10 South Atlanta
12/4 – No. 7 Callaway at No. 7 Greenville1A
12/4 – No. 9 Central-Macon at Westside-Macon
12/5 – Buford4A at No. 3 Morgan County
12/8 – No. 3 Morgan County at No. 4 East Jackson
12/8 – Dawson County at No. 8 East Hall
12/8 – Cedar Grove at No. 10 South Atlanta
12/11 – Banks County at No. 8 East Hall
12/11 – Northside-Warner Robins5A at No. 9 Central Macon
12/12 – No. 8 Henry County4A at No. 8 East Hall
12/12 – No. 2 Jenkins vs. No. 8 Berkmar6A (Valhalla Classic)
12/12 – No. 6 LaGrange5A at No. 7 Callaway
12/15 – No. 7 Callaway at No. 6 LaGrange5A
12/19 – No. 6 Blessed Trinity vs. South Paulding5A
12/21 – No. 10 South Atlanta vs. No. 6 LaGrange5A (War Eagle Classic)
12/22 – No. 10 South Atlanta vs. Buford4A (War Eagles Classic)
12/28 – No. 2 Jenkins vs. Buford4A (Grayson Ram Classic)
12/29 – Thomson at No. 1 Laney
12/30 – No. 2 Jenkins vs. Kennesaw Mountain6A (Grayson Ram Classic)
1/2 – No. 7 Callaway at Harris County
1/8 – Westminster at No. 6 Blessed Trinity
1/9 – No. 1 Laney at No. 3 Morgan County
1/12 – Cedar Grove at No. 6 Blessed Trinity
1/12 – Westside-Macon at No. 9 Central-Macon
1/15 – No. 4 East Jackson at No. 3 Morgan County
1/16 – No. 6 Blessed Trinity at No. 6 St. Pius4A
1/18 – No. 5 Calhoun vs. Buford4A (BCB MLK Showcase)
1/18 – No. 10 South Atlanta vs. No. 1 Greenforest1A (BCB MLK Showcase)
1/19 – No. 7 Callaway at Rockmart
1/19 – No. 8 East Hall at Banks County
1/22 – No. 2 Jenkins at Johnson-Savannah
1/23 – No. 3 Morgan County at Buford4A
1/26 – No. 3 Morgan County at Jefferson
2/2 – No. 6 Blessed Trinity at Westminster
2/2 – No. 7 Callaway at Pepperell

Team-First Mentality Expected to Lift Jordan Lyons and McIntosh to New Heights

Entering the 2015-16 high school basketball season, there are many teams with dreams and aspirations of capturing a title. But there is one school that seems to be on a mission and has a hunger that has been growing since an unfortunate early ending a year ago after an unblemished 28-0 regular season.

The McIntosh Chiefs were in cruise control entering the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs before starting point guard Will Washington (12.7 ppg, 9.3 apg) went down with a broken wrist on a layup attempt against M.L. King. The Chiefs would fall 66-65, ending their shot at the dream season.

Photo By Jason Mussell | The Crescent Buzz
Photo By Jason Mussell | The Crescent Buzz

With a loaded senior class returning, the Chiefs have one last shot at making history. Jordan Lyons (24.7 ppg) is one of the stars on this balanced team. The guard has committed to Furman and thinks that fun things are in store for McIntosh fans and fans of basketball in general.

“This year fans can definitely expect to see a very mature and organized team, a team that executes well. A team that can get up and down but can also run plays in the half court. Very exciting. A team that is going to play good defense; a veteran team,” explained Lyons.

And Lyons ain’t lyin’. Eight seniors are all expected to contribute heavily and have the experience to do so. Lyons described Washington as “one of the best true point guards in the state.” He continued on to say, “He’s always looking to make the right pass. …He’s our floor general.”

A missing piece to last year’s puzzle might have been found in Isaac Kellum (13.8 ppg), a 6-foot-4 swingman who transferred over from Fayette County this summer.

“Isaac brings us the length and athleticism at the three spot that we never really had,” said Lyons.

Kellum will also help out rebounding on the interior alongside the likes of recent Wofford-commit Dishon Lowery (10.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3.3 bpg) and Chase Walter (10.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg).

“They are both going to rebound. They both love contact, they both bang, they both block shots and alter shots and do things out of bigs that we need.”

As balanced as the starting five is, Lyons is quick to remind us not to forget about the depth on the bench. Braxton Shaw, who finished second on the team in three-pointers made last season as a junior, is back to bring a lethal deep threat. Lyons tabbed him as “one of the best sharpshooters out there.”

Ulysses Brown brings sticky defense on the perimeter and Brendon Rowan is the consummate glue-guy that helps Coach Jason Eisele’s team out in a plethora of different ways.

The Lead Lyon

With all the perfect components in place, there still has to be a centerpiece to complete the work of art that is the McIntosh Chiefs. That centerpiece is none other than Mr. Jordan Lyons himself. Efficiency is the name of the game for Lyons with his astronomical shooting numbers (66% 2PT, 87% FT, 45% 3PT). But by being the top-scoring option on one of the best teams in the state, does that bring an extra burden or pressure applied to Lyons’ shoulders? He doesn’t think so.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s pressure on me. Scoring is really just what I do. It’s my big time role and the team needs me to score points. I’ve been the leading scorer on the team since my freshman year so I think Coach Eisele has put a lot of confidence in me over these past four years which has really helped my play on the court because I know he believes in me.”

Even though Lyons might fill up the box score nightly, he knows he can’t do it alone.

“I can’t do it by myself. I need the help of my great teammates and I know I’ll get the help from them.”

Lyons mentioned Coach Eisele and the confidence he has instilled in him and touched on it further.

Photo By Fayette-News.com
Photo By Fayette-News.com

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Eisele, I love him to death. He brought me into the varsity program as a 14-year-old,” explained the senior shooting guard who has scored 1,737 points over his career and is now chasing Gabby Seiler’s all-time record of 2,003. “He gave me the confidence to be a very good player at the varsity level at 14 years old…He’s always believed in me. He’s stuck with me through everything.”

Steady Growth

It’s not only an exciting time for the players and fans, but for the coaching staff as well. Eisele has a loaded group and him and his staff have matured through the years along with the Class of 2016. Attention to detail has been more and more pronounced and a tight and clean style of play has been the result. Before this year’s senior class arrived at McIntosh, the Chiefs had been a middle of the road team, going 12-11, 16-12 and 12-12 before the program and culture changing class arrived for the 2012-13 season.

Year-one saw the Chiefs finish 17-8. Year-two, 19-10 before nearly putting it all together last season at 29-1. It has been a constant growing process and the fruits of McIntosh’s labor are finally ready to come to fruition, but for that to happen, there is only one fitting ending to this storybook tale: a state championship.

“The ring is really the most important thing to all of us,” stated Lyons. “Last year we won the first region championship in our school’s history. Our whole year that was our goal.”

McIntosh, Lyons, Lowery, Washington, Coach Eisele, the entire group, understands that it’s now or never.

“This year, there’s no second chance. We all understand there is no next year, no tomorrow. This is the last time, the last opportunity. We really got to go get it,” said Lyons. “We got to be focused day in and day out. We got to be on a straight line and eliminate everyone else that’s not in a straight line, so we can get to where we want to be. We just got to focus on what we have to do every day and just get better every day and we’ll know that we’ll be okay.”

Extra motivation to accomplish the dream of winning a state title stems from last year’s heartbreaking loss after the injury to Washington.

“It’s personal to him and it’s personal to all of us. We’ve been waiting for this for four years. We know this is our year; we got to go do it. We know we can. We all know we can.”

Final Destination

It is no doubt it’s state championship or bust, but when asked what this group of seniors and he personally would like to leave as a lasting legacy, Lyons said, “I definitely want people to remember that I always wanted to be a good teammate. I always wanted to lift my teammates up.”

“I just wanted to put McIntosh on the map. McIntosh has never been known for basketball and I know when Will, myself and Dishon came into the varsity program, especially when we told ourselves we wanted to make an impact on this program, we wanted to take this program to heights and levels that they’ve never seen before and we’ve just been doing great things since our freshmen year. We’ve been blessed with many opportunities, records broken, we’ve done many things in our career at McIntosh and we are very blessed and fortunate to have those opportunities. …We want to be known as great humble players that never took anything for granted.”

With one solitary goal in mind and a group of men with a respected leader in charge, Jordan Lyons and McIntosh should not have to worry about ever taking things for granted.

Featured Image Photo By Michael Clifton / www.kombatkamera.com

4A Must See Games

Here is a quick rundown on some of the best 4A matchups between GHSA teams this season:
Class AAAA
11/14 – No. 8 Henry County vs No. 9 Jones County5A (SWD Showdown II)
11/20 – No. 10 Columbia at No. 1 Lithonia
11/20 – No. 7 Worth County at Tift County6A
11/21 – Buford at Tift County6A
11/21 – No. 8 Henry County at No. 9 Newton
11/21 – No. 5 Sandy Creek vs. Westminster3A
11/23 – Buford vs. Sequoyah5A (Jared Cook Classic)
11/24 – No. 7 Warner Robins5A at Perry
11/24 – Americus-Sumter at No. 4 Allatoona5A
11/27 – No. 2 Jonesboro vs. No. 2 Norcross6A

11/27 – No. 5 Sandy Creek vs. No. 9 Grady (Hardwood Jam Fest)

11/28 – No. 1 Lithonia vs. No. 3 Morgan County3A (Hardwood Jam Fest)
12/1 – No. 6 St. Pius at No. 9 Grady
12/1 – Richmond Hill5A at No. 3 Liberty County
12/4 – No. 10 Columbia at No. 6 St. Pius
12/4 – No. 4 Bainbridge at No. 1 Seminole County2A

12/5 – Buford at No. 3 Morgan County3A

12/8 – Buford at No. 2 St. Francis1A

12/11 – No. 4 Bainbridge at Westover
12/11 – No. 9 Grady at No. 1 Lithonia
12/12 – No. 1 Lithonia at No. 6 St. Pius
12/12 – No. 7 Worth County at No. 4 Bainbridge
12/12 – No. 8 Henry County at No. 8 East Hall3A
12/19 – No. 2 McIntosh5A at No. 5 Sandy Creek
12/22 – No. 4 GAC2A at No. 6 St. Pius

12/22 –Buford vs. No. 10 South Atlanta3A (War Eagles Classic)

12/28 – No. 2 Jenkins3A vs. Buford (Grayson Ram Classic)

12/30 – Buford vs. Grayson6A (Grayson Ram Classic)

1/5 – No. 5 Thomasville2A at No. 4 Bainbridge
1/5 – Westover at No. 7 Worth County
1/9 – No. 2 Jonesboro at No. 8 Henry County
1/9 – North Atlanta5A at No. 9 Grady
1/12 – No. 1 Lithonia at. No. 10 Columbia
1/12 – No. 1 Seminole County2A at No. 4 Bainbridge
1/12 – No. 3 Liberty County at Richmond Hill5A
1/15 – No. 9 Grady at No. 6 St. Pius
1/16 – No. 6 Blessed Trinity3A at No. 6 St. Pius
1/16 – Tift County6A at Buford
1/18 – No. 3 Westlake6A vs. No. 10 Columbia (MLK Classic)

1/18 –Buford vs. No. 5 Calhoun3A   (MLK Classic)

1/18 – No. 9 Grady vs. North Atlanta5A
1/19 – No. 6 St. Pius at No. 10 Columbia
1/19 – No. 7 Worth County at Westover
1/23 – No. 1 Lithonia at No. 1 Miller Grove5A
1/23 – No. 3 Liberty County at Burke County

1/23 – No. 3 Morgan County3A at Buford

1/26 – No. 1 Lithonia at No. 9 Grady
1/29 – No. 3 Liberty County at Thomson
1/29 – No. 4 Bainbridge at No. 7 Worth County
1/29 – No. 6 St. Pius at No. 1 Lithonia
2/5 – Perry at No. 7 Warner Robins5A

Sandy’s Spiel Super Sleepers

There is no hiding it. My favorite time of year, basketball season, is finally here. To get ready for the season, I have narrowed down a few teams that I would classify as Super Sleepers. Not just sleepers, but teams that haven’t eclipsed the .500 mark in a few years and are finally ready to do so.

Class AAAAAA

allIn the most competitive classification in the state, the perennial powers remain the same, but Harrison (10-17, 4-10) may be in line to capture its first winning season since 2011-12 and fight for a playoff seed out of Region 4. Hillgrove has lost a ton via graduation and transfers from last year’s 23-6 team and are expected to take a step back while 21-8 McEachern could be the favorite to win the region. North Cobb and Kennesaw Mountain both made it as the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, but nothing is set in stone for 2015-16. Harrison proved last season that they can play with some tough competition, losing to 5A semifinalist Cedar Shoals 54-53, beating Hillgrove 51-41, beating McEachern 69-61 and losing to 4A runner-up Carrollton 54-47. Seniors Austin York and DJ Rowe give coach Clay Crump a nice one-two punch and solid leadership on the floor. Junior guard Tate Coston is also expected to make a big impact on the Hoyas. They will face some good tests throughout the season (Sequoyah, Berkmar, Houston County) and should be a tough out once region tournament play comes along.

Class AAAAA

1428092996_houston_county_bearsHouston County (10-16, 0-7) plays in the difficult Region 2B with the likes of No. 7 Warner Robins and No. 9 Jones County, but coach Stephen Walls has a nice group back that is in search of its first winning season in over five years. The Bears actually snuck into the playoffs after a winless regular season in region play and fell to LaGrange 60-41.Strong guard play will carry the Bears. Leading scorer junior Amari Colbert averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game as a talented do-everything guard. Senior forward Javion Johnson is an elite leaper and chipped in 8 points and 8 rebounds a night last season. Jaylon Golds pitched in 10 points and 5 assists as a junior and brings quickness to the Bear backcourt. Marquis Traylor from Missouri brings over some size and athleticism inside. As a junior he averaged 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds while showing off his hops, blocking 1.3 shots per game.

Class AAAA

imgresThough they haven’t enjoyed a winning record since 2012-13, Stephens County (8-19, 3-7) could find themselves playing meaningful basketball into the months of January and February. After a slow start to the season, the Indians under coach Chad Bridges began to play better and will try to carry that momentum over to 2015-16. Junior guard Nunu Walker is a talented scorer. Senior Tay Jones will play another big role along with sophomore Deandre Singleton, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound center. The Indians played Region 8 opponents hard, losing to Johnson-Gainesville (29-1) 54-46 in overtime and to Monroe Area (18-12) 47-45. With the graduation of some key pieces along the region, Region 8 should be a dog fight for the top four seeds.

Class AAA

imgresIt has been a while since Pepperell (11-15, 5-5) has been over .500, but that still didn’t stop the Dragons from making an appearance in the state tournament, sneaking in as a No. 4 seed. Coach Skip Matherly returns seniors Thomas Eddy, Austin Strickland and Rickey Campbell along with sophomore Malech Wilson, giving the Dragons some nice experience. They will need to replace high-scorer DeSean Ware, but Pepperell won’t be the only team in Region 5 losing talent. Rockmart and Callaway have lost some important players as well.

Class AA

homelogoSocial Circle (8-14, 4-8) has slowly begun to improve under head coach Ken Aldridge. He took over a 1-22 program after the 2012-13 season and improved to 3-23 before finishing 8-14 last season. The Redskins narrowly missed out on a playoff berth, but proved they could play with the competition. No. 3 seed Union County (17-12, 8-4) struggled with the up and coming Skins, actually splitting the series with Social Circle taking game one 49-48, before the Panthers won game two 68-67. Junior guard Deion Head is a big time player and averaged 16.8 points and 5.3 assists last year.

Class A

Trapped in thelarge_text158141_80739 devastatingly tough Region 6, Pinecrest Academy (10-15, 4-8) still stands a chance of reaching the elusive .500 mark. Ryan McCarthy and John Crone are a duo of highly experienced juniors that give coach Jay Lynch solid options. The playoffs aren’t likely in the cards, but expect the Paladins to be very competitive.

5A Must See Games

Here is a quick rundown on some of the best 5A matchups between GHSA teams this season:
Class AAAAA
11/14 – No. 9 Jones County vs No. 8 Henry County4A (SWD Showdown II)
11/14 – No. 8 Heritage-Conyers vs. No. 5 SWAC1A (SWD Showdown II)
11/14 – Tucker6A at No. 10 Cedar Shoals
11/16 – Dacula6A at No. 3 Gainesville
11/21 – Sequoyah vs. Dacula6A (Jared Cook Classic)
11/23 – Sequoyah vs. Buford4A (Jared Cook Classic)
11/24 – No. 7 Warner Robins at Perry4A
11/24 – Americus-Sumter4A at No. 4 Allatoona
11/24 – No. 6 LaGrange at Mundy’s Mill
11/27 –No. 2 McIntosh vs. Douglas County6A (Holiday Hoopsgiving)
12/1 – No. 2 McIntosh at Mundy’s Mill
12/1 – No. 3 Gainesville at No. 8 Heritage-Conyers
12/4 – No. 7 Warner Robins at Tift County6A
12/4 – South Paulding at No. 4 Allatoona
12/5 – Southwest DeKalb at No. 1 Miller Grove
12/8 – No. 3 Gainesville at No. 10 Cedar Shoals
12/12 – No. 6 LaGrange at No. 7 Callaway3A
12/15 – No. 7 Callaway3A at No. 6 LaGrange
12/18 – Apalachee at No. 8 Heritage-Conyers
12/19 – No. 10 Cedar Shoals  vs. No. 9 Newton6A (Classic City Shootout)
12/ 19 – No. 2 McIntosh at No. 5 Sandy Creek4A
12/21 – No. 6 LaGrange vs. No. 10 South Atlanta3A (War Eagle Classic)
1/9 – No. 6 LaGrange at Carver
1/15 – No. 4 Allatoona at South Paulding
1/15 – No. 10 Cedar Shoals at No. 8 Heritage-Conyers
1/18 – Sequoyah vs. No. 8 Berkmar6A (MLK Classic)
1/19 – No. 6 LaGrange at Northside-Columbus
1/22 – No. 9 Jones County vs. Houston County
1/23 – No. 1 Lithonia4A at No. 1 Miller Grove
1/29 – No. 7 Warner Robins at Houston County
2/2 – Mundy’s Mill at No. 2 McIntosh
2/2 – No. 8 Heritage-Conyers at No. 10 Cedar Shoals
2/5 – Perry4A at No. 7 Warner Robins
2/5 – Northside-Columbus at No. 6 LaGrange

 

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