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Week 3 Rankings

Class AAAAAA

  1. Westlake (5-1)
  2. Shiloh (4-2)
  3. Wheeler (4-1)
  4. Norcross (4-1)
  5. Tift County (5-0)
  6. Collins Hill (4-0)
  7. Lambert (7-0)
  8. Newton (5-1)
  9. Dacula (4-0)
  10. Douglas County (6-1)

Class AAAAA

  1. Miller Grove (4-1)
  2. Gainesville (3-0)
  3. McIntosh (5-1)
  4. Allatoona (2-0)
  5. Cedar Shoals (7-0)
  6. Heritage (7-1)
  7. Riverwood (9-0)
  8. Warner Robins (3-1)
  9. LaGrange (4-0)
  10. Southwest DeKalb (6-0)

Class AAAA

  1. Lithonia (4-2)
  2. Jonesboro (3-2)
  3. Henry County (5-0)
  4. Liberty County (2-1)
  5. Grady (6-0)
  6. St. Pius (4-1)
  7. Sandy Creek (7-2)
  8. Bainbridge (1-2)
  9. Worth County (3-1)
  10. Walnut Grove (4-1)

Class AAA

  1. Laney (5-0)
  2. Jenkins (2-1)
  3. Morgan County (4-2)
  4. East Jackson (3-2)
  5. South Atlanta (4-1)
  6. Cedar Grove (3-0)
  7. Calhoun (0-0)
  8. Callaway (1-0)
  9. East Hall (3-1)
  10. Southwest-Macon (4-0)

Class AA

  1. Seminole County (2-0)
  2. Pace Academy (0-2)
  3. Crawford County (3-0)
  4. Thomasville (7-0)
  5. GAC (4-3)
  6. Holy Innocents’ (4-2)
  7. Vidalia (5-0)
  8. Swainsboro (2-2)
  9. Lovett (4-0)
  10. Early County (2-1)

Class A-Private

  1. Greenforest (6-0)
  2. St. Francis (5-2)
  3. North Cobb Christian (5-0)
  4. Whitefield Academy (2-3)
  5. SWAC (3-3)
  6. Lakeview Academy (3-1)
  7. St. Anne-Pacelli (3-1)
  8. Landmark Christian (4-2)
  9. Walker (5-1)
  10. Stratford Academy (0-0)

Class A-Public

  1. Wilkinson County (1-1)
  2. Treutlen (3-0)
  3. Hancock Central (4-2)
  4. Calhoun County (2-2)
  5. Randolph-Clay (5-0)
  6. Taylor County (3-1)
  7. Dooly County (1-1)
  8. Greenville (1-1)
  9. Terrell County (4-2)
  10. Turner County (1-2)

The Class AAAAAA picture is slowly starting to clear up as we enter into the heart of December. No. 1 Westlake suffered its first loss of the season to the nation’s No. 1 team Montverde (FL), 76-54, but the Lions remain atop the class. Before the loss, Westlake did defeat Oak Ridge (FL), 67-63. No. 2 Shiloh was the fourth Georgia team (Wheeler, Pebblebrook) with a shot at knocking off Montverde but they also lost 72-55. Elsewhere in the state, No. 5 Tift County continued its quiet rise, jumping No. 6 Collins Hill to crack the top five. The Blue Devils defeated 5A No. 8 Warner Robins 70-55. The bottom of the poll saw some movement as Pebblebrook (3-4) and Milton (4-2) dropped out. Pebblebrook continues to be possibly the most exciting team to watch in the entire state, but they rely on outscoring teams to win. A 104-101 overtime comeback over Campbell was a thrilling victory. On Saturday however, at the Adidas Xplosion, the Falcons fell to 2A No. 2 St. Francis 96-94 on a Kobi Simmons breakaway dunk with 1.1 seconds left after Auburn signee Jared Harper missed a shot with eight seconds left and the other guards forgot to rotate back on defense. Pebblebrook is extremely talented with Harper and Collin Sexton, who scored 40 in the loss, but it is the little things like not getting back on defense that is holding Coach George Washington’s team back right now. Milton exits the poll after failing to impress and eking out a 61-59 win over Pope.

No. 9 Dacula and No. 10 Douglas County make their first appearances. Dacula has raced out to a 4-0 start and handed Douglas County its only loss of the season at the On the Radar Showcase, 78-72. The Falcons replace Pebblebrook as birds of prey in the top ten. Wofford signee Kevon Tucker is averaging 26.3 points per game and is one of the best scorers Gwinnett County has ever seen. Fellow senior Derek St. Hilaire has been just as good, pouring in 23 points on average. Demari Edwards is a nice third fiddle averaging 9.3 points per game. The one thing that is a glaring weakness that some teams may be able to exploit is the Falcons’ lack of height. Tucker and Shayne Buckingham are listed as Dr. Russ Triaga’s tallest players at 6-foot-4. Douglas County makes the poll after a 6-1 start highlighted by a signature victory over 5A No. 3 McIntosh at Holiday Hoopsgiving, 84-81. UNC signee Brandon Robinson is making his case for Mr. Basketball by averaging 29 points per game.

Still knocking on the door to crack the top ten is 5-0 Grayson. In Saturday’s 58-52 win over Centennial, Austin Dukes scored 23 points and handed out five assists. Trey Sconiers posted 17 points and eight rebounds while Kenyon Jackson protected the paint with 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocks. Add those three along with big-time scorer Alphonso Willis and the Rams are as dangerous as it gets in Class 6A.

No. 2 Gainesville survived in an early season clash of titans in Region 8-AAAAA against No. 6 Heritage. The Red Elephants rallied from down 11 at the half to stun the Patriots 85-79 behind D’Marcus Simonds’ 26 points and Bailey Minor’s 20. No. 5 Cedar Shoals rises three spots to give Region 8 the No. 2, 5 and 6 teams in the state. The Jaguars have a colossal showdown with Gainesville this Tuesday. Defending state champion Brunswick, tumbles out of the top ten. Losses to Camden County 87-84 in 2OT and Coffee, 54-53, are tough to swallow after losing a ton from last year’s title team. No. 10 Southwest DeKalb replaces Brunswick behind the play of Keith Gilmore. The senior forward is averaging 17.2 points and 6.8 rebounds for the undefeated Panthers. No. 7 Riverwood continues its sneaky climb. Kohl Roberts is powering the Raiders yet again with 15.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 4.2 blocks per game. South Paulding (3-0) looks like it has designs on entering the top ten sooner rather than later. Keep an eye on Statesboro. The Blue Devils are off to a hot start at 4-0 and have wins over three ranked teams: Current 2A No. 8 Swainsboro 61-47, current 4A No. 4 Liberty County 75-74 and former 1A-Public No. 9 Portal.

Some interesting play has gone on in Class AAAA. Lithonia and Jonesboro remain No. 1 and No. 2, but No. 3 Henry County has vaulted three spots into the top three. No. 5 Grady is 6-0 and has three wins over ranked opponents: 67-66 over No. 7 Sandy Creek on Nov. 27 and most recently against No. 6 St. Pius last Tuesday 51-50 and 1A-Private No. 4 Whitefield Academy, 66-55. One score line turned a lot of heads as the Knights blasted Cross Keys 125-31. Coach Brian Weeden kept the foot on the gas pedal, allowing Bucknell-commit Avi Toomer to go for 52 points, eight rebounds and nine steals. No. 8 Bainbridge falls four spots. The Bearcats lost 68-60 to 2A No. 1 Seminole County without star player and UGA-signee Tyree Crump. Crump then returned against Dougherty, but the Trojans handed the full strength Bearcats a bad loss, 78-75. Bainbridge blew a 12-point halftime lead as Jaylen Taylor went for 17 points to fend off Crump’s 26. Walnut Grove checks in at No. 10 as Region 4’s third team (Jonesboro, Henry County) in the top ten. The Warriors suffered their first loss of the season last week, 58-52 to Jonesboro.

Class AAA remains an enigma. One thing is for certain however: Laney finds ways to win.  The Wildcats came back from steep double-digit deficits twice last week to rally and win 77-72 over Richmond Academy in overtime and 65-64 against Morgan County. Zep Jasper and Christian Keeling have carried the Cats during their time of doubt and have kept them undefeated. Blessed Trinity falls out of the rankings after a 5-2 start. They are replaced by Southwest Macon, who is enjoying a resurgence behind a high-powered offense. Justin Slocum at 6-foot-6 is anchoring the paint averaging 25 points and 11.8 rebounds a night. Transfer Nick Hargrove has continued his exciting play in the GHSA, scoring 20.5 points and handing out 4.3 assists per game. Fellow junior Aaron Ridley and freshman Jordan Slocum have both been major contributors as well.

No. 2 Pace Academy (0-2) holds its ranking in AA after a winless start. Losses to 6A No. 1 Westlake by seven and most recently 56-44 to 1A-Private No. 1 Greenforest are both good losses. Both Westlake and Greenforest are considered to be two of the best teams in the state regardless of classification. No. 3 Crawford County tipped off its season with three wins including a 98-86 win over 1A-Public No. 3 Hancock Central. No. 5 GAC swaps spots with No. 6 Holy Innocents’ again after a 75-67 win in overtime at HIES without two starters including leading scorer Brian Coffey Jr. and 6-foot-8 center Charlie O’Briant. No. 8 Swainsboro fell to No. 7 Vidalia 59-58, but recorded a 52-50 overtime win over 1A-Public No. 1 Wilkinson County. A team to keep watch for is Monticello. The Hurricanes may only be 3-2, but both losses came to 5A No. 6 Heritage. Monticello was blown out on Nov. 20, 83-39, but lost by just four, 58-54, in the rematch this Saturday. The Hurricanes have wins over Greene County, Jones County and Warren County this season.

In 1A-Private, St. Francis continues to gel, get better and most importantly, healthier as the season moves on. Wins over new No. 9 Walker 88-52, No. 4 Whitefield Academy 60-55 and Pebblebrook 96-94 are all nice victories. North Cobb Christian continues to play well at No. 3, defeating No. 8 Landmark Christian 70-58. Tattnall Square Academy drops out after being routed by Paideia. Walker takes over in the poll behind Harvard bound big man Robert Baker. He is averaging 26.7 points, 14.8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.7 steals and 2 blocks per game.

Class 1A-Public remains muddled. Wilkinson takes over No. 1 after an overtime loss to 2A No. 8 Swainsboro and a 68-55 win against No. 3 Hancock. Former No. 1, Calhoun County, suffered a bad loss to Stewart County 44-37 and now finds itself at No. 4. Taylor County debuts at No. 6 after wins against Upson-Lee 68-55 and 1A-Private No. 7 St. Anne-Pacelli, 73-51.

 

2015 Adidas Xplosion Full Games

I was able to jump on the SUVtv broadcast for the final three games of Adidas Xplosion at Wheeler High School.  SUVtv is the authority in broadcasting  live sporting events at the high school level. Please visit thesuvtv.com and follow @SUVtv, @MarqBurnettSUV, @Jhillsman and @Colin_Ritsick on Twitter.

Lee (AL) 87, No. 2 Jenkins 82

No. 6 SWAC 66, Johnson-Savannah 63

Peachtree Ridge 74, Kell 70

No. 1 Greenforest 56, No. 2 Pace Academy 44

No. 2 St. Francis 96, No. 7 Pebblebrook 94

No. 3 Wheeler 74, Walton 50

3A: No. 1 Laney 65, No. 3 Morgan County 64

No. 1 Laney was on the ropes again, with nearly no hope of coming back, trailing 43-23 after an 18-0 run to the defending state runner-up No. 3 Morgan County, the same team that knocked off the Wildcats a year ago in the state semifinals. Possibly the grittiest backcourt in the state, College of Charleston signee Zep Jasper and Charleston Southern signee Christian Keeling, led the Cardiac Cats with 29 and 22 points respectively. Check out Chad Cook’s AugBBall for full analysis of the game.

Laney’s Comeback Kids Do It Again

Freshman and Senior Duo Carries Shorthanded No. 6 Spartans

No. 6 GAC 75, No. 5 Holy Innocents’ 67 OT

The power struggle for control of Region 6-AA officially began Thursday night as No. 6 GAC (4-3) found a way to knock off host No. 5 Holy Innocents’ (3-2) in overtime, 75-67. The Spartans entered the game on a two-game losing streak, but more importantly, without leading scorer, junior point guard Brian Coffey Jr. and 6-foot-8 center, Charlie O’Briant. With two big pieces out, Garrett Covington and Jacob Hoffman were expected to shoulder the load, but it was a level-headed freshman that made possibly the biggest impact of the game.

To open up the night, both teams traded baskets with Hoffman knocking down a three. The senior would roll an ankle however, soon after and would gingerly walk off with the game tied at 7. While on the bench, Cole Smith of Holy Innocents’ caught fire. He scored nine of the Golden Bears’ 13 points in the first quarter and would score 19 of his game-high 29 points in the first half.

One of Cole Smith's five three-pointers on the night
One of Cole Smith’s five three-pointers on the night

Hoffman returned to action later in the first quarter and finished with eight points on the day. The Spartans trailed 13-11 at the end of one. With Holy Innocents’ committing six first quarter fouls, the Spartans seemed destined to live at the line in quarter two, but the Golden Bears didn’t pick up foul number seven until under two minutes to play in the half. GAC pushed ahead 24-19, but Holy Innocents’ used a 14-4 run capped by a Jules Erving putback dunk and a layup to enter the half leading 33-28.

With Coffey sidelined and Hoffman gimpy, someone needed to step up for the Spartans. That someone was freshman point guard Hunter McIntosh. The cool youngster scored half of GAC’s points in the first half with 14 and finished with a team-high 27.

Smith bombed his fifth three-pointer of the night with 46.3 seconds left in the third quarter to extend Holy Innocents’ lead to 48-41, and would take a six-point 50-44 lead into the final period of play…or so we thought.

The Spartans continued to chip away and stay within striking distance while the Golden Bears tried to push ahead with a student section dressed in tacky Christmas sweaters roaring them on. Coach David Eaton implemented a press at the 7:17 mark of the fourth quarter, trailing by four. While GAC was able to disrupt the Bears offense somewhat, Brent Duncan started to go to work inside. The high-flying big man scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half to try and stave off the Spartan charge, but it was not enough.

As GAC continued to inch closer and closer, the play on the court got wilder and wilder with more and more whistles. Just under the three minute mark, the craziness which got the Spartans officially back in the game and over the hump occurred. Big man Chris Hinton, all 6-foot-5, 240 pounds of him, drew an and-one bucket, but missed the free throw. His miss was kept alive by Covington, resulting in the ball bouncing back to Hinton who laid it in to make it a four-point possession and draw the Spartans within one at 60-59.

Garrett Covington was all over the court
Garrett Covington was all over the court

At the 2:05 mark, Duncan hit Harrison Cobb for a jumper to extend the lead to 62-59.

Covington would answer with a steal and a layup making it a one-point game again with 1:36 remaining. Jules Erving was fouled and sank two free throws to go up 64-61 with 48.5 seconds left in regulation.

Jules Erving impressed me again with his versatility
Jules Erving impressed me again with his versatility

Anthony Carter, who ended up with five points, eight rebounds, two assists and four steals, was fouled with 22.2 seconds left for GAC. Earlier, he had missed a pair of foul shots at the 3:26 mark trailing 58-55. Carter atoned for his misses. He sank his first free throw and missed his second, but for the second time in the fourth quarter, Garrett Covington crashed the offensive glass and batted the ball off the backboard. The ball landed in Carter’s hands, who was following his shot, and he was able to lay it in and tie the game with around 15 seconds to play.

Free throw rebounding was an issue down the stretch for HIES
Free throw rebounding was an issue down the stretch for HIES

Ibrahim Shabazz had a final look from the top of the key as the clock expired coming out of a timeout seen here, but the shot went awry. We were heading to overtime.

In overtime, it was all Spartans. Covington, who finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, drove the lane and kicked out a pass over his head that looked wild. That wild pass was right on the mark hitting Jacob Hoffman, who proceeded to bury the triple. Soon after, Covington drove again and found Basil Peterson for the jumper after Hinton spun baseline against Duncan and powered it up for two more on the previous possession. GAC’s quick 7-0 spurt in overtime proved to be the dagger as the Golden Bears wouldn’t threaten again, giving the shorthanded Spartans a huge 75-67 victory.

My Take: Thursday night basketball is something I can get used to. What a game this was; back and forth the whole way. Every time it looked like either team was going to pull away, the other would respond. To be honest, I had no idea who Hunter McIntosh was before tonight. Now I know. The freshman guard looked as calm and collected as it gets in a hostile environment as he had to take on the lead guard duties with Brian Coffey injured. When I found out he was a freshman, I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t making any crazy plays or flashy moves; he was just solid and knocked down every open shot he had. Garrett Covington showed why he is a Gwinnett Daily Post Super Six selection and did everything out there tonight. In overtime alone he had two assists and a handful of rebounds to close it out. Burly Chris Hinton grinded his way to eight big points and did a good job on Brent Duncan down low. Jacob Hoffman splashed home an early three, but after hurting his ankle, he wasn’t able to be as explosive. He gutted it out and played with a grimace on his face. His big three in overtime gave the Spartans the separation they needed. After the game, Hoffman was seen limping out of the locker room with his shoe off. Hopefully it’s not too serious.

This was my second time seeing Holy Innocents’ play. They have three players that can take over a game any given night as they all showed flashes. Cole Smith might as well be called the baby faced assassin. He doesn’t look like your prototypical go-to player, but his handles are tight and his stroke is as pure as it gets. Duncan had a slow first half but began to carve up GAC inside during the second half. Jules Erving once again impressed me. He scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds, collected seven assists, two steals, two blocks and guarded Covington during most of the night. Talk about a busy night. Harrison Cobb played well. He fouled out with 22.2 seconds left in regulation and his calming presence yet intense play was missed in overtime. He finished with eight points, five rebounds and three assists. It will be fun to watch these two teams duke it out again this year as they jockey for position atop Region 6.

Top Performers

Greater Atlanta Christian
Garrett Covington – 23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Hunter McIntosh – 27 points, 3 rebounds
Chris Hinton – 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks
Jacob Hoffman – 8 points
Anthony Carter – 5 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals

Holy Innocents’
Cole Smith – 29 points, 2 blocks
Jules Erving – 12 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Brent Duncan – 14 points, 4 rebounds
Harrison Cobb – 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

Primer: No. 6 GAC (3-3) at No. 5 Holy Innocents’ (3-1)

No. 6 GAC (3-3) at No. 5 Holy Innocents’ (3-1)

This Region 6-AA rivalry features two top ten teams. No. 6 Greater Atlanta Christian has shown flashes of being a region title contender, but a tough schedule and injuries have left the Spartans at 3-3 early in the season. GAC kicked off the year with a 73-61 win against 1A-Private No. 8 Lakeview Academy, 73-61. At the Verizon Hoops for the Cure Classic, Brewbaker Tech (AL) downed the Spartans 64-53. After a pair of wins, they ran into 5A No. 9 Riverwood in the North Forsyth Thanksgiving Tournament championship and lost 51-40. That same Riverwood team handed No. 5 Holy Innocents’ its only loss of the season on opening night, 54-46. GAC enters riding a two-game skid after taking a loss and some injuries to Seneca (SC) on Tuesday, 80-67.

Leading scorer, point guard Brian Coffey Jr. and starting center Charlie O’Briant are both expected to miss tonight’s game. O’Briant suffered a bad laceration to his lip when he took an inadvertent shoulder to the mouth, and Coffey, who has been on crutches the past two days, endured a deep bone bruise to his right knee and bruised a nerve which may keep him sidelined for up to a week. With the injuries, the onus to score will fall heavily on Garrett Covington and Jacob Hoffman’s shoulders. Both players are capable however as Covington averaged 16.5 points and Hoffman 12.1 as juniors. Covington is a Gwinnett Daily Post Super Six selection for the 2015-16 season.

GAC took two of three against the Golden Bears last season, winning 58-49, losing 82-78 and defeating Holy Innocents’ 73-68 in the region tournament.

The Golden Bears opened up their season with a loss against rival Riverwood. Since that game, Brent Duncan has picked up his play and is back to being a handful inside. In a 61-60 win over Duluth at Holiday Hoopsgiving, the 6-foot-7 forward went for 30 points and 10 rebounds including the game-winning free throw with .1 seconds remaining. He, Cole Smith, Ibrahim Shabazz and Jules Erving make up for a nice core, with Harrison Cobb and Richard Surdykowski doing the dirty work. Holy Innocents’ enters on a three-game win streak, defeating Sacred Heart (AL) 64-62 and No. 6 SWAC, 61-46, along the way.

Key Matchup: Jacob Hoffman of GAC and Cole Smith from Holy Innocents’ have the capability to match each other stroke for stroke from beyond the three-point line. Smith scored 13 points when I watched him play Riverwood and has the mentality of a microwave, able to heat up at the flick of a switch. Hoffman also doesn’t shy away from the long ball and has been known for his clutch sniping.

X-Factor: Jules Erving has been tasked with guarding other teams’ best players, getting the call on De’Andre Ballard of SWAC on Tuesday and held him to 17 points. If he gets lined up against Garrett Covington, he will be sure to make him work for every bucket. Erving’s athleticism and size allows him to guard multiple positions.

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