No. 5 Tucker 63, Alcovy 40: Sierra Wright had 15 points while Kierra Johnson-Graham posted 13 points and six rebounds.
Northview 51, Johns Creek 34: Freshman Maya Richards poured in 20 points to lead the Lady Titans. Ashlee Austin chipped in 16 points.
Lovejoy 61, Rockdale County 42: Amber Thornton finished with 17 points and three steals in the win.
No. 5 Flowery Branch 51, Winder-Barrow 47: Heather Moore scored 12 points and Taniyah Worth posted 18 points and nine rebounds to lift the Lady Falcons over a talented Lady Bulldogg team that drops to 13-2.
No. 2 Marist 60, Cross Keys 13: Both Dominique Oden and Annabella Farabaugh outscored the entire Cross Keys team. Oden flirted with a quadruple-double and finished with 23 points, seven assists, 10 rebounds and 10 steals. Farabaugh added 14 points in the rout.
St. Pius X 67, Chamblee 48: Macey Carson scored 22 points to lead three Golden Lions in double figures in the win. Kathryn McKenzie added 18, while Hannah Jones chipped in 12. St. Pius X (10-6, 8-3 Region 6-AAAA) never trailed, racing to a 36-22 halftime lead. Ariana Henderson led Chamblee (5-8, 4-7) with 15 points.
Mt. Zion 55, No. 6 Griffin 52: The Lady Bulldogs advanced to 15-3 overall after handing the tumbling Griffin Lady Bears another loss. Tyeisha Juhan poured in 35 points to lead the way.
Pickens 57, LaFayette 37: Autumn Young scored a team-high 16 to lead the Dragonettes. Mackenzie Hampton and Torie Williams added 14 apiece in the win.
No. 8 Ringgold 42, Sonoraville 31: Sydney Shutters led the Lady Tigers with 12 points. Taryn Hickey posted a game-high 13 points for Sonoraville.
No. 10 East Hall 63, Franklin County 45: Carly Winters sank seven three-pointers and scored 24 points to power the Lady Vikings. Ashlyn Ellison and Jenny Edwards both scored 11 points.
Calhoun 61, Murray County 32: Jana Johns posted 18 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Ashlyn Barnes recorded 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and five steals while Sydnie Parker swatted away six shots.
Central-Macon 59, Westside-Macon 45: Kamry Hassan scored 19 points. Tyleia Williams added 11 in the win.
No. 5 Tattnall Square Academy 31, First Presbyterian 29: Tattnall Square survived the Lady Vikings led by Kate Patterson’s 16 points. Emma Lako added seven in the loss.
After nearly a month long layoff, Class AAAAAA’s No. 1 Westlake returned to the hardwood and picked up two Region 3 wins. The Lions held off UNC signee Brandon Robinson and Douglas County 65-59 before edging Langston Hughes 76-61. Chuma Okeke came up big for Westlake, finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds and three assists vs. Douglas County while Robinson poured in 21. Danny Lewis added 22 points and Jamie Lewis 14 points and nine assists for the Lions. In Friday’s win over Langston Hughes, it marked the first time this year Okeke played against his former school. No. 4 Wheeler dropped Milton 71-60 behind a balanced attack. Georgia Tech signee Romello White posted 22 points and eight rebounds. Cam Jordan and Darius Perry scored 19 and 18 points respectively. No. 7 Pebblebrook is red-hot and jumps up three spots. The Falcons rallied from down 87-74 with 4:43 left against Douglas County to force overtime and eventually win in two extra periods, 111-107 in a game of the year nominee. Collin Sexton dropped 44 points. Pebblebrook hosts No. 1 Westlake this Tuesday.
No. 9 Grayson makes its first appearance in the top ten this season after defeating Dacula 73-69, in turn taking their place in the poll. Austin Dukes scored 27 points to lead the Rams and Tre Sconiers recorded 14 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and four blocks. On Friday, Grayson had an opportunity to improve its resume even more with a crack at No. 2 Shiloh, but the upset-minded Rams fell short 80-73.
No. 2 Allatoona is now the lone undefeated team in Class AAAAA after Camden County lost to Effingham County 77-63 and slipped out of the top ten. Replacing the Wildcats is a familiar face, No. 10 Southwest DeKalb. The Panthers have won six straight and are quickly closing in on a rematch with No. 1 Miller Grove. No. 7 Heritage-Conyers falls a spot following a 73-66 overtime loss to Rockdale County. No. 9 Warner Robins stopped rival Northside-Warner Robins in front of a sold out crowd, 65-58. Donovan Brown finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds on the road to carry the load with star guard Marquez Callaway missing the game due to playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Class AAAA saw No. 4 Liberty County thump No. 10 Thomson 100-53. The statement win helps the Panthers jump back over No. 5 St. Pius. Thomson falls one spot only. No. 6 Eagle’s Landing moves up two spots and leaps over region foe No. 7 Walnut Grove. The Eagles knocked off Henry County 96-83 on Tuesday, drilled 13-3 Eastside 76-49 on Friday and outlasted Stockbridge 84-78 on Saturday. No. 1 Jonesboro survived a scare from Henry County on Saturday, 70-65 in overtime. MJ Walker exploded for 33 points to pace the Cardinals. Damion Rosser netted 28 points and Javon Greene 23 in the loss for the Warhawks.
Down goes Frazier! The AAA heavyweight No. 3 Laney finally lost a game to who else but No. 1 Morgan County, the same team that ended the Wildcats’ season in the semifinals last year. The Bulldogs won 65-63 behind Devorious Brown’s 27-point outburst. Jailyn Ingram, who is heading to Florida Atlantic along with Brown, added 14 points and freshman Alec Woodard chipped in 13. Zep Jasper (College of Charleston) finished with 21 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals while Christian Keeling (Charleston Southern) posted 21 points and 10 rebounds for Laney. No. 10 Banks County resurfaces in the top ten after wins over Lumpkin County, 69-65 and Buford, 60-50.
I took a 217 mile trip down to South Georgia to see Class AA’s finest: No. 3 defending state champs Seminole County hosting undefeated No. 1 Thomasville. In the end, it was the championship duo of Jordan Harris (UGA) and Anfernee King that proved to be too much for the bigger and more balanced Bulldogs, combining for 49 points in the Indians’ 71-65 win in front of a raucous crowd. With the win, Seminole County regains the No. 1 spot in the state while Thomasville slides to No. 2. A string of close calls finally caught up to the battle-tested Bulldogs. Before their loss at Seminole County, last week Thomasville had beaten Bainbridge 63-61 and won at No. 7 Early County, 79-76. Region 1 looks like a force to be reckoned with come tournament time.
Two Region 6 teams drop out in Wesleyan and GAC, but two replace them with No. 6 Lovett and No. 8 Pace Academy. Currently Lovett owns sole possession of first place in the region with a 5-0 mark. The Lions hold wins over No. 5 Holy Innocents’ and just beat Wesleyan and GAC back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, knocking them both from the poll. On Friday Lovett gets to prove its record as they visit Pace Academy, a sleeping giant that has now won three in a row and hold a 4-1 mark in region play. Tomorrow in Southeast Georgia, No. 10 Long County hosts No. 4 Vidalia in a crucial Region 2 measuring stick game. Also keep an eye on Region 3’s Swainsboro (7-5, 3-0). The Tigers have played some tough competition out of region and are much better than their record shows. They are riding a five-game winning streak and may re-enter the poll sooner rather than later.
More of the same occurred in Class A-Private: Madness and business as usual. On the business side of things, No. 1 Greenforest dispatched of No. 5 SWAC, 81-58. The madness occurred with No. 2 St. Francis holding on against King’s Ridge (9-5), 72-71. Kobi Simmons became the Knights’ all-time leading scorer last week and surpassed the 2,000-point barrier. Landmark Christian tumbled out of the top ten with a 9-5 record and losses to Paideia in overtime 71-61 and No. 7 Whitefield Academy, 91-62. No. 9 Stratford Academy takes the War Eagles’ place in the rankings after dropping No. 10 Tattnall Square Academy, 67-58. Also, Quintez Cephus made SportsCenter with his thunderous baseline throw down against First Presbyterian Day.
Class A-Public sees No. 2 Hancock Central leap all the way from No. 9 thanks to five straight wins including victories over No. 7 Lincoln County and No. 4 Wilkinson County on Saturday, 70-62. No.5 Atkinson County continues to rise in the rankings while No. 8 Hawkinsville slips four spots following a 67-59 loss to Greenville. No. 9 Mitchell County and No. 10 Turner County replace Terrell County and Wilcox County. The Green Wave is riding a two-game skid while Wilcox County is on a three-game losing streak.
The four hour trip was worth it. Defending AA state champs No. 3 Seminole County (12-3, 5-1) never trailed in the second half and held off No. 1 Thomasville (16-1, 4-1) 71-65 to hand the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.
Thomasville’s balance of four players in double figures was not enough on the road against the Batman and Robin duo of UGA signee Jordan Harris and Anfernee King in front of a raucous sold out crowd. The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and looked like their size consisting of 6-foot-8 brothers senior Alex and sophomore Reggie Perry and 6-foot-8 freshman Titus Wright, would overwhelm the much smaller Indians, topped by 6-foot-4 senior center Justin Washington, but the Jordan Harris show began.
Harris connected on two deep balls and scored 10 of his game-high 28 points in the first quarter to enter the second period tied at 16. Senior Jordan Willis, Thomasville’s offensive catalyst at point guard, did not start and didn’t play in the first quarter for disciplinary reasons. As he was trying to find his flow in the game, Coach Benjamin Tillman relied on Shedric Cooper and Reggie Perry to get buckets. Perry, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, scored six points in the first half while Cooper netted seven of his 10.
Harris continued his onslaught in the second quarter hunting his own shot while still getting everyone involved. He entered the half with 18 points, swooping to the rim and cutting into Thomasville’s paint protectors. At the half the Indians held a 33-27 lead.
To open the third quarter, Thomasville slowed the track meet down and began looking to exploit their size advantage by dumping high-low looks to the Perry brothers. Three early attempts didn’t work with Harris coming away with a steal in Seminole County’s zone which was used to pack it in and not let the Perrys or Wright get point-blank looks.
Down 38-33 with five minute left in the third, Willis came away with a runout and tried to hammer in a dunk, but his attempt clanged off the back rim and landed in Tyreke Daniels’ hands. Daniels pushed the ball up and hit King in transition, who proceeded to bury a three-pointer to make it 41-33; a five-point swing.
Alex Perry quickly answered back inside with a sweeping hook shot that resulted in an And-1, but Harris was not to be out done. In the highlight of the night, better than his alley oop dunk from the hands of King and numerous Perry slams, Harris went between his defender’s legs, re-controlled his dribble and hit a step back fade away from just inside the arc. He pulled off the nutmeg so quickly, that most fans didn’t even realize what he had just done.
At the 1:40 mark, Harris picked up his fourth foul up 45-38 but King and Washington were able to carry the Indians into the fourth quarter leading 47-39. The Indians extended their lead to 49-39, their largest of the game with just under seven minutes to play, but the Bulldogs would show their bite and began clawing back, using a 8-0 run to make it 49-47.
Thomasville was in the double-bonus early in the fourth and began to pound away at the hoop, taking 16 fourth quarter free throws and sinking 12. Willis led the charge and scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter and helped the Bulldogs draw even at 51, but it was short lived as King hit a layup to regain the lead. The senior guard poured in 13 fourth quarter points to finish with 21, hitting 9-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter to help the Indians upset the Bulldogs.
My Take: 217 miles? I could have traveled 400 miles and it would have been worth it. The hospitality at Seminole County was outstanding and a shoutout needs to go Juwan Hopkins, who helped me find my way to the gym after getting lost on some darks roads. As far as the game goes, the first thing I noticed was Thomasville’s size. My jaw dropped to think this was an AA team and that Reggie Perry and Titus Wright are only a sophomore and freshman respectively. The storyline for tonight’s game was whether Seminole County’s two-man show of Jordan Harris and Anfernee King could keep up with Thomasville’s balance and size. Jordan Willis didn’t even start tonight for the Bulldogs and their starting lineup still looked like it could play with anyone in the state. The Perry brothers are big and long. Reggie is a high-major prospect and moves well for his size. Wright played a little out of position and wasn’t anchored on the block like I felt he should have been. He is a big barrel-chested post that can move people out of his way. He isn’t as athletic or explosive as the Perrys, but if he works on his quickness and post moves, he will be a nightmare for the next four years. Shedric Cooper and Gregory Hobbs played well in the backcourt, but Willis is the go-to guy. He put the team on his back in the fourth quarter and scored by slashing to the basket, hitting threes and adding points from the foul line. The Bulldogs will be a major player in the state tournament and were well deserving of their No. 1 ranking and undefeated record.
What is there to say about Seminole County? Harris and King are winners. They take a ton of shots, but it is their team and they have the green-light on every possession. Harris needs to be face-guarded or bracketed by two men every time he plays. The only recipe to beating the Indians is getting him in foul trouble or praying for an off night. But if he does have a rare rough game, King has more than enough goods to carry the load. King has an excellent pullup jumper and good elevation to get his shot off. He showed off his playmaking skills along with Harris as the two helped get Justin Washington involved. The senior big man played possibly the best game of his career according to Coach Kevin Godwin. Not blessed with his teammates’ athleticism, Washington was unafraid to battle inside and showed nifty footwork when around the basket. He finished with 10 points, four rebounds and two steals, doing the dirty work inside while putting a body on three players that were four inches taller than him. It looks as if there is a very strong possibility that the Class AA state championship will run through South Georgia again, with Region 1 having three legitimate horses in the race including No.6 Early County.
Seminole County Jordan Harris – 28 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals
Anfernee King – 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
Justin Washington – 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Thomasville Jordan Willis – 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
Reggie Perry – 12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
Shedric Cooper – 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Titus Wright – 10 points, 3 rebounds
Alex Perry – 8 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 3 blocks
A rare Wednesday night game between two Region 8 contenders set up for a fantastic finish as host Grayson (13-1, 4-1) was able to hold off an offensive onslaught from Wofford signee Kevon Tucker and Derek St. Hilaire in the fourth quarter for a 73-69 win over No. 9 Dacula (10-3, 3-1).
Tre Sconiers and freshman 6-foot-5 center Kenyon Jackson got the Rams off to a quick start in the first quarter. Sconiers scored eight of his 14 points in the opening eight minutes by finding baskets inside. He finished with a double-double, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking four shots. Jackson, who suffered foul trouble, was also a menace inside, posting six points, eight rebounds and three blocks in the first quarter to give Grayson a 22-14 lead after one.
Alphonso Willis, one of Grayson’s leading scorers on the year, sat the entire second quarter due to foul trouble. While the senior combo guard was out, it was time for his shifty running mate to take over. Austin Dukes had a quiet first quarter, but banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to ignite an important second quarter. Dukes began attacking the basket, sinking all four free throw attempts and netting eight points to give him 14 at the break.
As Dukes was carrying the load offensively with Willis out, St. Hilaire began to go to work for Dacula after scoring two points in the first quarter. The aggressive guard scored eight points of his own in the quarter as the Falcons remained in striking distance. Demari Edwards finished with 10 points in the first half for Dacula, but was held scoreless in the second half, putting the pressure on Tucker and St. Hilaire to scrap back from down 38-33 going into the break.
In the third quarter Grayson gradually began to build its lead and pushed its advantage out to 13 before St. Hilaire caught fire. With less than a minute to go, the senior splashed in a stepback three and then buried a deep ball with five seconds left to bring the Falcons back from the dead. After trailing 56-43, Dacula entered the fourth down 56-49.
The run wouldn’t stop there. The Falcons would go on a 13-2 run sparked by 11 St. Hilaire points to make it 58-56 with 5:50 remaining. St. Hilaire, who finished with a game-high 28, combined with Tucker to score 17 points of Dacula’s 20 points in the fourth quarter. Tucker, who finished with 24 points, scored nine points but Dacula was never able to get over the hump and never grabbed a second half lead.
With 4:52 to play, down 60-56, the Falcons drove to the basket and tried to draw contact but didn’t get the whistle. Dr. Triaga erupted after the no-call and was slapped with a technical which sent Dukes to the line to sink two free throws.
The T looked like it would stem the tide of Dacula’s momentum, but the Falcons kept coming. A 5-0 run drew them within 62-61 with 3:44 left. Dukes and St. Hilaire traded bucket for bucket down the stretch. Dukes sank 14-of-17 free throws including 7-of-9 in the fourth to score a team-high 27 points and give Grayson 69-66 lead with 47.8 to play. Dacula had opportunities to tie, but fumbled them away as Grayson got the stops they needed down the stretch and finished 23-of-31 from the foul line to ice the game.
My Take: The stars shined in this Gwinnett County battle. With Alphonso Willis and Kenyon Jackson hardly playing in the second quarter, it was impressive to see Grayson with a 5-point halftime lead. Austin Dukes showed he could carry the load. The svelte guard was able to shake his way to the basket and draw contact to live at the line. Willis came away with some big rebounds down the stretch in the fourth and scored six in the fourth. Freshman big man Kenyon Jackson is a player to keep an eye on. He was disruptive on defense and finished with 11 rebounds and three blocks. If he has another inch or two left in him to grow, he could become a dominant defensive presence. With that being said, he is already averaging 10 rebounds and nearly four blocks a game. Tre Sconiers was a player that always found himself in the right place at the right time. His 14 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks were all from effort. It looked as if the Rams were running out of gas in the fourth, taking body blow after body blow from Kevon Tucker and Derek St. Hilaire, but the freshness of Willis in the fourth helped mightily after sitting in the second.
Speaking of Tucker and St. Hilaire, they went into ultimate attack mode in the final quarter. St. Hilaire single handedly pulled them back in the game with two late threes in the third. Tucker opened the game taking some bad contested jumpers but as the game wore on he began to attack the hoop and overpower defenders with his body control and size. The question surrounding the Falcons however, is who will be that third option? Demari Edwards played very well in the first half but disappeared in the second and didn’t score. The burden to score rests heavily on Dacula’s two stars, which they can shoulder, but they shouldn’t have had to score 85% of their team’s points in the fourth quarter. Outside of Edwards’ 10 points, the fourth leading scorer was Juwan White with five. Region 8 will end up being one of the most competitive regions in the state. Expect more nail-biters like this one. The two meet again on Jan. 29 in a game that should hold major implications for top four playoff seeding.