People always ask me, “What’s the best game in town this week?”
Peach State Stops of the Week will highlight some of the best basketball being played in Georgia for the current week. Whether it’s a tournament/showcase, a region rivalry, a Top 10 showdown, or a seldom heard sleeper, Peach State Stops of the Week will let you know what gym you need to get into
No. 3 Sandy Creek at No. 9 Cartersville
Right now, it looks like Region 5-AAAA will boil down to No. 3 Sandy Creek (11-3) and No. 9 Cartersville (10-2). The two teams had a couple wars last year with the Patriots winning at home 86-80 and in the region tournament 60-53 while Cartersville won a wild game in Bartow County in overtime 94-88. While some faces have changed, especially on the Sandy Creek side, expect this long distance rivalry to continue. Kam Miller, Chris Porter and Jarred Godfrey will have their hands full trying to corral Furman-signee Jaylon Pugh. TJ Horton’s aggressiveness in the backcourt will test the Patriots as well. TJ Bickerstaff will have to be the difference maker for Sandy Creek. The 6-foot-7 junior wing has come on strong this season and will need to hunt his shot and crash the glass to take advantage of a smaller Hurricane lineup.
No. 8 Banks County at No. 4 Rabun County [G]
The Lady Leopards (13-3) and the defending Class AA state runner-up LadyCats (12-2) have blossomed into one of North Georgia’s most heated rivalries on the girls’ side. The two meet for the first time this season after Rabun County beat Banks County in the Region 8 championship 78-67 last year after splitting the regular season series. Banks County has challenged themselves early this year, playing three ranked teams twice apiece, going 4-2 against Hart County, West Hall and Madison County. Jaycie Bowen has led the attack from the paint along with Amber Williams while Maddie Thomas and Allison Smith provide matchup problems with their size on the perimeter. Rabun County already has a region loss in the form of an 82-53 defeat at Putnam County, but the emergence of junior guard Georgia Stockton has helped keep the Cats stay afloat without Brooke Henricks. Stockton has poured in the points averaging upwards of 25 per game while receiving help from Laken Stiles and Kaitlin Coleman. Expect an intense high-action game with Rabun County trying to set the tone with their press and challenge the Leopards’ ball handling.
No. 2 Manchester at No. 1 Central-Talbotton
Coach Anzy Hardman has turned No. 2 Manchester (11-0) into a Class A-Public contender and now has a chance to take over the mantle as the team to beat if they can stop No. 1 Central-Talbotton (13-0) and its high-powered offense. Defensive pressure keyed by Jah’nile Hill, Kalil Brawner and Carlos Dixon will try to disrupt the powerful trio of Tayne Smith, ZyTavian Hill and Javares Copeland. Inside, the Blue Devils have physicality around the rim to deny any free runs from Hill or Smith in the form of 6-foot-4, 295-pound Jerquavion Mahone, a defensive tackle heading to Kentucky. While the Hawks have the size advantage on the perimeter, they will still have to chase around Hill, a lightning rod of energy that thrives in transition and creates offense from his pesky defense. It will be a sell-out crowd over in West Georgia with the potential for a break-neck pace.
Creekview at No. 10 Etowah
When was the last time Cherokee County had two boys teams with one loss this late into the season? If someone knows, I’d love to hear the answer. The golden days of boys basketball have been fleeting, but there’s a glimmer of hope between Towne Lake and Owens Store Road. The Eagles (14-1) have hovered around the bottom of the Top 10 in Class AAAAAAA, a great honor after their trip to the Sweet 16 last season. Jaxon Etter has begun to garner D-1 interest with his play on the wing. The junior teams up with Tusculum-signee Adrian Cohen, 6-foot-7 senior Julian Baldwin, D-3 commit Carter Ingersoll and defensive specialist Nick Nagy, who has already clamped down the likes of Devin Vassell (Florida State) and KD Johnson. The Eagles have won 14-straight with their calling card being tough-nosed defense that allows just 44.8 points per game. Creekview (13-1) carries a 12-game winning streak in Class AAAAAA behind KJ Jenkins, the No. 4 senior point guard in the state. Jenkins has proven to be a human torch that can catch fire from deep. Ty Allen along with posts Paxton Nayman and James Wall have helped balance the offense while Barrett Patterson supports from the outside. Etowah will be Creekview’s toughest task since their 68-49 loss to Mt. Bethel Christian.