Week 1 Rankings

Class AAAAAA
  1. Shiloh (0-0)
  2. Norcross (2-0) [d. King’s Ridge 81-52, Lovejoy 89-57)]
  3. Westlake (1-0) [d. Gray Collegiate Academy (SC) 79-49]
  4. Wheeler (1-1) [d. Woodstock 80-48, L. 76-70 Montverde (Fl.)]
  5. Milton (2-0) [d. Walton 91-75, Brookwood 76-60]
  6. Pebblebrook (1-1) [L. Montverde (Fl.) 76-70, d. Blanche Ely 64-63]
  7. Collins Hill (0-0)
  8. Tift County (2-0) [d. 4ANo. 8 Worth County 77-61, Buford 56-18]
  9. Lambert (1-0) [d. South Forsyth 74-51]
  10. Newton (1-1) [d. Eastside 90-60, L. 4ANo. 7 Henry County 67-66]
Class AAAAA
  1. Miller Grove (2-0) [d. Dunwoody 80-40, Stephenson 77-44]
  2. McIntosh (1-0) [d. Morrow 89-68]
  3. Gainesville (0-0)
  4. Allatoona (0-0)
  5. Brunswick (0-0)
  6. Heritage (4-0) [d. Rockdale 75-70, 1ANo. 5 SWAC 81-49, Monticello 83-39, Berkmar 65-55]
  7. Warner Robins (2-0) [d. Taylor County 66-46, Northeast 78-45]
  8. Cedar Shoals (2-0) [d. Tucker 62-38, Rockdale 70-56]
  9. LaGrange (0-0)
  10. Southwest DeKalb (2-0) [d. Salem 69-45, Hampton 108-38]
Class AAAA
  1. Lithonia (2-0) [d. Marist 66-46, Columbia 65-58]
  2. Jonesboro (0-0)
  3. Liberty County (1-0) [d. Bradwell Institute 69-44]
  4. Bainbridge (0-0)
  5. Sandy Creek (3-0) [d. Cambridge 82-37, Banneker 75-36, Westminster 62-47]
  6. St. Pius (2-0) [d. Arabia Mountain 60-53, Chamblee 67-30]
  7. Henry County (3-0) [d. Jones County 77-67, Decatur 55-47, 6ANo. 10 Newton 67-66]
  8. Worth County (2-1) [d. Colquitt County 82-73, Lee County 88-75, L. 6ANo. 8 Tift County 77-61]
  9. Grady (1-0) [d. Redan 78-77]
  10. Upson-Lee (2-0) [d. Heard County 66-36, Johnson-Gainesville 73-41]
Class AAA
  1. Laney (1-0) [d. Greenbrier 74-62]
  2. Jenkins (0-0)
  3. East Jackson (1-0) [d. Tallulah Falls 80-48]
  4. Calhoun (0-0)
  5. South Atlanta (2-0) [d. Carver 76-53, North Atlanta 77-41]
  6. Blessed Trinity (2-0) [d. Lithia Springs 55-53, Meadowcreek 38-24]
  7. Callaway (0-0)
  8. Cedar Grove (1-0) [d. 1ANo. 2 St. Francis 72-69]
  9. East Hall (0-0)
  10. Central-Macon (0-0)
Class AA
  1. Seminole County (0-0)
  2. Pace Academy (0-0)
  3. Crawford County (0-0)
  4. GAC (2-1) [d. 1ANo. 9 Lakeview Academy  73-61, Roswell 64-39, L. Brewbaker Tech (Al.) 64-53]
  5. Thomasville (2-0) [d. Valdosta 72-52, 71-63]
  6. Vidalia (1-0) [d. East Laurens 83-38]
  7. Holy Innocents’ (0-1) [L. Riverwood 54-46]
  8. Early County (0-0)
  9. Rabun County (1-0) [d. Dawson County 79-59]
  10.  Swainsboro (0-1) [L. Statesboro 61-47]
Class A-Private
  1. Greenforest (2-0) [d. WD Mohammed 80-50, Peachtree Ridge 69-42]
  2. St. Francis (1-1) [d. Sacred Heart (Al.) 74-58, L.  3ANo. 8 Cedar Grove 72-69]
  3. North Cobb Christian (0-0)
  4. Whitefield Academy (0-1) [L. Sacred Heart (Al.) 67-62]
  5. SWAC (2-1) [L. Heritage-Conyers 81-49, d. Alcovy 81-32, Griffin 64-37]
  6. Landmark Christian (3-0) [d. Providence Christian 80-56, Fulton Leadership 89-75, Ola 80-69]
  7. St. Anne-Pacelli (0-0)
  8. Stratford Academy (0-0)
  9. Lakeview Academy (0-1) [L. GAC 73-61]
  10. Tattnall Square Academy (0-0)
Class A-Public
  1. Calhoun County (0-0)
  2. Hancock Central (1-0) [d. Putnam County 62-52]
  3. Treutlen (0-0)
  4. Wilkinson County (0-0)
  5. Turner County (0-0)
  6. Randolph-Clay (2-0) [d. Baker County 96-27, Spencer 102-84]
  7. Greenville (0-0)
  8. Dooly County (0-0)
  9. Portal (0-0)
  10. Terrell County (1-1) [d. Miller County 52-34, L. Lee County 62-37]

 

With not every team in the state getting their season underway, the rankings are still a work in progress. It isn’t fair to penalize teams who haven’t played, but it also is difficult to move teams around in favor of those teams yet to tip, but with that being said, here is how things have played out thus far…

In Class AAAAAA, No. 2 Norcross scored a pair of easy wins while No. 3 Westlake might have been the most impressive team out of the top 10. Junior Chuma Okeke made an instant impact in his first game with his new team, going for 23 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and four steals. No. 8 Tift County forces its way into the state picture with an impressive win over 4A No. 8 Worth County 77-61 and a devastating 56-18 blowout of Eddie Martin’s Buford Wolves. Berkmar fell from No. 8 to out of the poll with a loss to 5A No. 6 Heritage-Conyers 65-55. If it weren’t for Tift’s excellent play, Berkmar likely would have survived another week. A handful of Gwinnett County schools are knocking at the door to make a top ten appearance.

No. 6 Heritage-Conyers has put Class AAAAA officially on watch of its presence. They hop up two spots and have looked great behind Jordan Thomas, Charles Moore, Isaiah Banks and Byron Abrams. Wins over ranked opponents No. 5 SWAC and former No. 8 Berkmar look nice on the resume. Both No. 7 Warner Robins and No. 8 Cedar Shoals have done some early season thumping.  Senior Keith Gilmore has led No. 10 Southwest DeKalb into the polls. He is averaging 20.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. Jones County drops out after losing to 4A No. 7 Henry County 77-67 and Baldwin, a 3-21 team a year ago, 68-41.

In Class AAAA, No. 5 Sandy Creek has steamrolled opponents with its mixture of athleticism, shooting and defense. No. 6 St. Pius has been steady behind the stellar play of Kerney Lane. The versatile southpaw is averaging 27 points per game to pace the Golden Lion attack. No. 7 Henry County knocked off 6A No. 10 Newton, using a late Javon Greene freethrow to win 67-66, after losing 86-63 in a scrimmage vs. the Rams. Columbia slips out of the top ten narrowly and is replaced by 2014 quarterfinalist Upson-Lee, who has smashed their two opponents.

The wild, wild west that is Class AAA has already begun shaking up. It is a wide open field with No. 1 Laney the early favorite. State runner-up Morgan County tumbles all the way out of the rankings after a 57-52 loss to Cherokee at the Battle at the Rock tournament. The Bulldogs will have plenty of time to regroup after the upset loss. No. 5 South Atlanta leaps up five spots after a pair of convincing wins. Things haven’t always been pretty with No. 6 Blessed Trinity, but their grind-it-out style of play has started them off at 2-0. Monday’s 38-24 win against Meadowcreek further proved that the Titans are one of the best in the state at controlling tempo. Cedar Grove debuts at No. 8 after a shocking upset of defending 1A-Private state champion St. Francis.

AA No. 4 GAC suffered a setback against Alabama powerhouse Brewbaker Tech, but still holds onto their spot. No. 5 Thomasville picked up a pair of wins in a home-and-away tilt with Valdosta. No. 7 Holy Innocents’ moves down a spot while No. 9 Rabun County jumps one after a 79-59 win over Dawson County and a No. 10 Swainsboro loss.

No. 1 Greenforest looks like the class of A-Private with its size inside and dominating play. No. 2 St. Francis holds onto the second spot after No. 3 North Cobb Christian didn’t play and No. 4 Whitefield Academy fell to Sacred Heart (Al.) 67-62, after the Knights of St. Francis beat them 74-58. No. 5 SWAC was blown out by 5A Heritage. No. 9 Lakeview Academy lost a competitive match with 2A No. 4 GAC, 73-61.

Not much going on in A-Public. Hancock Central defeated Putnam County by 10. No. 6 Randolph-Clay is averaging 99 points per game.

What I Learned During Opening Week

The first weekend of basketball already featured tons of storylines, upsets and big performances. From the GHSA’s denial of transfers Isaac Kellum (McIntosh), Robert Hill (Berkmar), Kovi Tate (Henry County) and more, to a three-point barrage, here is how the weekend shook out.

What I Learned

**Tift County is on the fast track to cracking the 6A Top Ten**

Not ranking the Blue Devils to start the season had me catching some flack. Their play this weekend will only add fuel to the fire as they defeated 4A No. 7 Worth County 77-61 and followed it up with a romp of Coach Eddie Martin’s Buford Wolves, 56-18. Tift faces a major test on Friday against McEachern as the Indians make the long trip south.

**Buck Harris knows how to coach**

That didn’t take long. After Baldwin suffered through a 3-21 season in 2014-15, Coach Harris, who comes over after a ridiculous run at Laney, already has the Braves 2-0 with a monster upset of 5A No. 9 Jones County, 68-41. Donta Justice scored 13 in the win while Keontay Miles and Dalton Strother chipped in 11 and 10 respectively.

**Chicks dig the long ball**

Matthew Addis of 2A No. 10 Rabun County was absurd on Saturday, drilling 13 threes for 39 points to lead the Wildcats over Dawson County, 79-59. Initial reports claimed he went 15-of-16 for 45 points, but Coach Jeff Page gave us 39 points as the official total. Either way, it was a shooting performance for the ages.

**Joby Ball is back**

Joby Boydstone is back in Georgia with his run-and-gun high scoring offense at East Paulding. He picked up a 106-85 victory over Cass in his triumphant return. The Browder brothers powered the Raiders as Jalen scored 30 and Lennard added 23.

**Kobi Simmons needs help**

Class A-Private defending state champion No. 2 St. Francis has struggled out of the gate. The Knights dropped a scrimmage to 2A No. 4 GAC 77-69, but rebounded with a 74-58 win over Sacred Heart Catholic (Ala.) to open the regular season. Saturday however, was a major blemish as unranked Cedar Grove closed out the Knights 72-69. Anthony Showell, a transfer from Duluth, will have to slot in as a consistent No. 2 scoring option. He scored 11 in the win over Sacred Heart. They will need to get things figured out and quickly as 5A No. 3 Gainesville rolls into town on Tuesday.

**What a difference two weeks makes**

6A No. 9 Newton drilled 4A No. 8 Henry County in a scrimmage on Nov. 10, 86-63. The Rams proceeded to blowout Eastside 90-60 in the season opener before running into the Warhawks with the result counting this time. Henry County took advantage of their second chance at the Rams and slipped by 67-66 as Javon Greene hit a free throw to win it. He finished with 20 points while Damion Rosser led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

**Region 8-AAAAA is for real**

No. 3 Gainesville isn’t going to have a cakewalk to the region title. No. 8 Heritage-Conyers and No. 10 Cedar Shoals both look impressive early. The Patriots (4-0) already have notable wins over Rockdale County 75-70, 1A No. 5 Southwest Atlanta Christian 81-49 and 6A No. 8 Berkmar 65-55. Jordan Thomas paces the team with 15.3 points per game while Charles Moore is pouring in 15 and Isaiah Banks 14.3, while leading the team with 6.8 rebounds. The Jaguars have made a statement as well, blowing out Tucker 62-38 before taking down Rockdale 70-56. Phlandrous Fleming, Jerrick Mitchell and Snipe Hall are all averaging double digits.

**No Tookie, No Cookie**

3A No. 3 Morgan County didn’t necessarily get off to a great start at the Battle at the Rock. The Cherokee Warriors kept the Bulldogs at bay and held on 57-52. Life after Tookie Brown is going to be a whole lot different. Devorious Brown and Jailyn Ingram, two FAU signees, must get things on track.

**The GHSA**

I have spilled enough blood with my pen already on this topic, but every day, it seems like more and more revolting things are coming from the GHSA. Denying transfers is fine, but if you are going to do it, you damn well better give a reason why you are denying them. This isn’t mommy and daddy telling their child no, and the kid asking why, only to get the parents’ response as “because I said so.” These are real issues and real kids here. Be a man and stop hiding behind the curtain and let these parents, players and coaches sleep at night. Also, the media is covering YOUR sports. So don’t you dare tell respected media members that they aren’t welcome into state playoff events because they aren’t a newspaper. This isn’t 1960. Wake up, get a clue, and support your student-athletes. The GHSA is hindering its kids’ exposure by not letting all forms of media cover the talent on the biggest stage of the year. Shame on you and shame on your agenda GHSA.

 

Top Games Results

Montverde Academy (FL) 76,  6A No. 6 Pebblebrook 70 (Montverde Academy Invitational)
2A No. 10 Rabun County 79, 3A Dawson County 59
5A Riverwood 58, 1A Mount Vernon Presbyterian 53
1A No. 5 SWAC 64, 4A Griffin 37
3A No. 10 South Atlanta 77, 5A North Atlanta 41
4A No. 1 Lithonia 65, 4A No. 10 Columbia 58
2A No. 5 Thomasville 71, 6A Valdosta 63
                                                       Saturday
4A No. 5 Sandy Creek 62,  3A Westminster 47 (Hoops 4 the Cure)
3A Cedar Grove 72, 1A No. 2 St. Francis 69 (Hoops 4 the Cure)
4A No. 8 Henry County 67,  6A No. 9 Newton 66
6A  Walton 66, 4A Woodward Academy 64  (Run N’ Shoot Classic)
6A No. 3 Westlake 79, Gray Collegiate Academy (SC) 49 (Run N’ Shoot Classic)
5A No. 8 Heritage-Conyers 65,  6A No. 8 Berkmar 55 (Run N’ Shoot Classic)
1A No. 1 Greenforest 69, 6A Peachtree Ridge 42 (Jared Cook Classic)
1A No. 6 Landmark Christian 89, 1A Fulton Leadership 75
6A Cherokee 57, 3A No. 3 Morgan County 52 (Battle at the Rock)
3A No. 6 Blessed Trinity 55, 5A Lithia Springs 53
3A Westside-Macon 64, 5A Houston County 41
6A Tift County 56, 4A Buford 18
6A Dacula 91, 5A Sequoyah 80 (Jared Cook Classic)
6A No. 6 Pebblebrook 64, Blanche Ely (FL) 63 (Montverde Academy Invitational)
Montverde Academy (FL) 76, 6A No. 4 Wheeler 70 (Montverde Academy Invitational)

Rabun County Opens Season with Addis’ Monster Performance

***Story contributed by Taylor Jones  (@TaylorJones__) of WRBN and WGHC***

2A No. 10 Rabun County 79,  3A Dawson County 59

The Rabun County Wildcats opened the 2015-16 season with a big win over fellow mountain region foe, Dawson County. While starting the season with an impressive victory is important, that is not the story, here.

Rabun’s Matthew Addis had a phenomenal game… scoring 39 points — all (13 makes) from the beyond the three-point line — to help his team knock off Dawson County, 79-59 on Saturday night.

Addis’ performance will be one that Wildcat fans will talk about for years to come, but two other teammates contributed in huge ways to this win. Tevan Brown scored 17, while Ethan Dickerson ended his night with 13.

While the offense was stellar, Coach Jeff Page said that defense is what won the game.

“The whole team played great defense and played unselfish,” explained Page. “It was a great team win.”

Rabun County will travel to Piedmont College in Demorest on Monday to take part in the Thanksgiving Tournament.
First up? East Hall at 8:30PM

Westminster Can’t Shake Slow Start Against No. 5 Sandy Creek

4A No. 5 Sandy Creek 62, 3A Westminster 47

St. Francis High School was host to the Verizon Hoops for a Cure Classic which featured No. 5 Sandy Creek and a Westminster program coming off an 18-8 season. Right away the up-tempo Patriots established their dominance with Gardner-Webb signee Christian Turner hitting Elias Harden on the left wing for a three-ball to open the game. Harden drilled three deep balls all in the first half and finished the game with 15 points.

As good as Harden was from distance, it was Turner who powered the Patriots. He helped ignite a 10-1 run in the first quarter that would give Sandy Creek all the space it needed as Coach Anthony McKissic’s team took a 17-11 lead into the second quarter. Turner scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the first half and bullied his way to the bucket at-will against the smaller Westminster guards.

The Wildcats managed to hang around in the first half with big man Mikael Sampson in foul trouble. The junior picked up his second foul at the 1:21 mark of the first quarter and didn’t score in the first half. Dual-sport star Will Benson was quiet as well in the first two quarters before slamming home a dunk in the final minute of play in the second quarter to give him the team lead with seven points entering the break as Westminster trailed 32-22.

In the third quarter it seemed like momentum would finally swing in favor of the Wildcats as rim protector Keith Heard II picked up his fourth foul at the 4:18 mark of the third with Westminster down 36-26, but McKissic elected to leave him in and seconds later he was rewarded when Heard caught an alley oop and laid it in. Heard fouled out with 1:48 to play in the third with the Patriots holding a 42-28 lead. Entering the fourth Sandy Creek was in control 46-31.

Coach McKissic gearing up for the fourth quarter
Coach McKissic gearing up for the fourth quarter

Sampson and Benson came alive in the fourth quarter, both scoring six apiece, but they could not get any help and Turner continued to control the action for the Patriots. He scored seven points in the final frame and AJ Freeman added five to keep the Wildcats at bay. Westminster was unable to cut the lead to single digits as Sandy Creek’s defense came up with the stops it needed to keep a comfortable distance.

Turning Point: Off a high miss off the backboard, Will Benson came soaring in for a thunderous putback dunk to bring Westminster within 46-33 with 7:10 to play, but the Patriots quickly raced the ball down the court and AJ Freeman converted on a three-point play to take the wind out of Westminster’s sails.

Highlight of the Night: Will Benson turned the tables on “Lob City South” as he recorded three big dunks. His putback dunk, which almost looked like a pass off the glass, left those in attendance marveling at the Duke baseball commit’s athleticism.

My Take: Sandy Creek looks and plays the part of a Top 10 team in the state. They are long, athletic, can shoot and showed discipline; all signs of a well-coached team. Their defense is what can make them a state title contender. The activeness of Keith Heard and Evan Jester inside will be something to watch all season. Christian Turner was a bulldog attacking the basket and abusing the smaller guards of Westminster. He would put his head down and attack at-will, but also was able to find open men outside. Elias Harden settled for too many threes in the first half. Once he started attacking in the second half, it was clear to see why many high major programs are after the junior. Xavier Brewer ended up being the X-factor today. The long sophomore entered in the first quarter and quickly sparked the Patriots. He finished with five points and seven rebounds. Westminster was a little shorthanded due to the football season, but the Wildcats showed flashes of promise. Will Benson didn’t get a ton of chances to create in the first half and I would have liked to see the ball in his hands some more. Mikael Sampson had a slow start to the game but came on strong in the second half. Philip Jones didn’t score much from his point guard position but he filled out the stat sheet in other areas. Tyler Barry, former NBA’er Jon Barry’s son, did not shoot well at all finishing with six points and a lot of missed opportunities. If the core of Jones, Benson and Sampson can control the offense and have it run through them, the Wildcats should have another successful season.

Top Performers:

Sandy Creek
Christian Turner – 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals
Elias Harden – 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Evan Jester  – 6 points, 9 rebounds
AJ Freeman – 9 points, 2 assists
Xavier Brewer – 5 points, 7 reboundsFullSizeRender (2)

Westminster
Will Benson – 18 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block
Mikael Sampson – 9 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block
Philip Jones – 5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
Tyler Barry – 6 points, 3 assists, 2 steals FullSizeRender (1)

 

Primer: No. 5 Sandy Creek (2-0) vs. Westminster (0-0)

4A No. 5 Sandy Creek (2-0) vs. 3A Westminster (0-0)

A highly talented Sandy Creek team, who enters the season ranked No. 5 in Class AAAA, will matchup against AAA Westminster in the Verizon Hoops For A Cure Classic hosted by St. Francis.

The Patriots behind new Head Coach Anthony McKissic have lived up to the moniker of “Lob City South”, crushing opponents behind alley-oops and suffocating defense. They have notched wins over Morrow (scrimmage) 93-55, Cambridge 82-37 and Banneker 75-36. Saturday’s showdown will be a step up in competition against a Wildcat program coming off an 18-8 season.image2

Four-star guard Elias Harden leads the balanced Patriots offense which averages 78.5 points through two regular season contests. He enters with a 19.5 scoring average while grabbing seven rebounds per game. Evan Jester and Keith Heard II anchor the paint. Jester, a 6-foot-6 junior, is averaging a double-double early in the year with 16.5 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 pogo stick Heard, is posting four points, eight rebounds and 4.5 blocks. AJ Freeman is going for 14 points a night and Gardner-Webb signee Christian Turner is logging 12 points on average from his guard position. The onslaught of offense has put up big points, but it has been the defense igniting the Patriots, coming up with 27 steals per game.

Will Benson | USA Baseball
Will Benson | USA Baseball

Westminster will look to Philip Jones to handle the high defensive pressure the Patriots will bring. Jones is an experienced senior guard who has played in some big games over his career. The offense runs through Will Benson, a 6-foot-5 forward who brings shades of Bo Jackson onto the hardwood. The AAA All-State Honorable Mention Benson is a premier baseball prospect that will be drafted in 2016. He has committed to Duke and will attempt to play both sports if he decides against going pro. On the court he is a physical specimen with burly shoulders and ball handling skills that allow him to attack the rack. The southpaw truly looks like a man amongst boys with his athleticism and playmaking ability.

X-Factor: Sandy Creek’s Keith Heard will play an important role on Saturday. His ability to alter shots and clean up misses could be a difference maker. If he is active on both ends of the court for McKissic, the Patriots will be in good shape. Westminster has a big guy of its own who is slowly beginning to come into his own. Junior Mikael Sampson is another strong bodied power forward who likes to mix it up inside. His strength and athleticism will challenge the Patriots’ big men inside. Sampson had a good summer at the 2015 HoopSeen Fall League and will try to build on his success.

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