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.


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.

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