Tag Archives: Collins Hill

Vassell and Moss set tone as Peachtree Ridge races past rival No. 8 Collins Hill

Peachtree Ridge 75, No. 8 Collins Hill 64

Rivalry games bring out the best in both sides, but on Friday night, it was Peachtree Ridge (5-0) that took full advantage of their home crowd, riding the atmosphere to a controlling 75-64 victory. Looking for a statement win in the deep Region 6-AAAAAAA, the Lions proved that they are more than just a Devin Vassell one-man show.

A quick pace opened the game with both teams trading buckets. Senior point guard Darius Moss set the tone with seven quick points, pushing the ball in transition and attacking the basket. With No. 8 Collins Hill (5-1) primarily focused on stopping Vassell, the Florida State-signee allowed his teammates to flourish, 10 Lions scoring on the night. Vassell whipped in an assist to BJ Knight to give Peachtree Ridge a 20-15 lead after one.

Peachtree Ridge ignited a 12-4 run highlighted by a Vassell slam to take a 32-19 lead at the 5:05 mark in the second quarter and never let Collins Hill cut the deficit back to single digits the rest of the way.

While the Lions were using their balance, the Eagles were relying on Northern Illinois-signee Justin Lee, Elijah Wilson and Mandarius Dickerson to keep them in striking distance. Lee, 6-foot-8, opened the game with the first five points for Collins Hill and added in seven more in the second quarter to head into the half with 12 of his 19 points on the night. Wilson scored six of his nine points in the second quarter but was held scoreless in the second half.

Peachtree Ridge took a 43-32 lead into the half and extended it to as many as 17 points at 58-41 with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles closed on a 7-2 run and could have had even more momentum heading into the final stanza, but Chris Parks missed a breakaway dunk with 24 seconds left and Collins Hill had to settle for a 60-48 hole to dig out of in the fourth quarter after Dickerson netted nine of his team-high 21 points in the third.

Devin Vassell provided the kill-shot at the 5:37 mark of the fourth when he threw down his third dunk of the game to push the lead back to 17 at 67-50. Vassell finished with eight of his game-high 22 points in the final period to close out the Eagles.

My Take

After a fun first 8 minutes, it just looked like Peachtree Ridge wanted it more than their rivals. Devin Vassell poured in a smooth 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks as the Seminole was in control the entire game and didn’t let the festive atmosphere affect him either way. It was Darius Moss who really provided the energy and paced the Lions attack early. He finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists and did a nice job of keeping the pressure on Collins Hill’s guards in transition. 6-foot-11 250-pound junior post Richard Rivers opened up the game with a three-pointer and drilled two on the night. Rivers will be a covetable non-D-1 player with his size and shooting touch. If he can trim down and improve his mobility a little more, it will behoove him at the next level. BJ Knight did a good job of finishing around the rim and I really liked what I saw out of 6-foot-6 junior forward Amari Davis, who entered off the bench and instantly gave Coach Keith Arrington a post presence, collecting 7 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Collins Hill was unable to match Peachtree Ridge’s non-stop energy. Mandarius Dickerson got his with 21 points (3 threes), but couldn’t help the Eagles climb their double-digit hill. Dickerson isn’t a flashy player and won’t necessarily standout, but the 6-foot-2 senior is always good for 14-18 points a night. He will help a program at the next level. Northern Illinois-signee Justin Lee showcased his beautiful touch, but it wasn’t just from the three-point line. He did a very nice job of working the mid-range to the paint and elevating over smaller defenders to kiss the ball off the glass. The only thing I didn’t like was his rebounding total. You can’t be 6-foot-8 in high school and not record a single rebound. I felt like junior Elijah Wilson came out strong in the first half and knocked down two threes, but the 6-foot-3 wing got lost in the shuffle in the second half and didn’t get many looks. I still feel like Collins Hill is at their best when Queens-signee Chris Parks is getting post touches. The 6-foot-5 bruiser’s opportunities were few and far between. I wish there was more of an effort to establish him inside, but credit Richard Rivers and Amari Davis for doing a good job of not allowing him to get position on the block. Senior guard Quincy Carter didn’t light up the scoreboard with 3 points, but he did everything else, tallying 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals.

Top Performers

Peachtree Ridge
Devin Vassell – 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks
Darius Moss – 12 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
BJ Knight – 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist
Richard Rivers – 8 points, 2 rebounds
Amari Davis – 7 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks

Collins Hill
Mandarius Dickerson – 21 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals
Justin Lee – 19 points, 2 assists, 1 steal
Elijah Wilson – 9 points, 5 rebound, 1 assist, 2 steals
Chris Parks – 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Quincy Carter – 3 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals

12-8 Top Games Preview

Norcross-CHillNo. 4 Norcross (4-1) at No. 6 Collins Hill (4-0)
The power struggle atop Region 7-AAAAAA officially begins as two early favorites to win the crown do battle. The Eagles nipped Norcross in their first meeting early last year 70-68 before the Blue Devils went on a rampage and finished 13-1 in the region. Size has always been a crucial advantage for Norcross with 6-foot-8 towers Rayshaun Hammonds and Lance Thomas, who can score inside and out. But this year, the Eagles have added some imposing size of their own down low. AJ Cheeseman is a 6-foot-6 power forward that has signed to play at New Orleans. Chris Parks is only a sophomore, but he is a big active body at 6-foot-5 and can mix it up with the longer Blue Devils. Kai Lambert, JD Ozoh and TeShaun Hightower must be X-factors and hit open shots for Collins Hill if they want to slow down Norcross, who features strong guard play of their own in Kyle Sturdivant, Jordan Goldwire and Chris Curlett.

Gaines-CedarNo. 2 Gainesville (3-0) at No. 5 Cedar Shoals (7-0)
Region 8-AAAAA has quietly blossomed into one of the best regions in the entire state behind Gainesville, Cedar Shoals and No. 6 Heritage, not to mention the always ready to take over a game, Butler signee Kamar Baldwin of Apalachee. This matchup will be the Jaguars first major test of the season. Gainesville has defeated 2A No. 2 St. Francis (without Kobi Simmons) 70-58 at the Jared Cook Classic and rallied from down 11 at the half to knock off Heritage, 85-79 last week. Georgia State signee D’Marcus Simonds poured in 26 points in the comeback while Bailey Minor added 20. The Red Elephants have plenty of pieces and can beat teams in a variety of ways. KJ Buffen is a blossoming star forward, Tae Turner is a Lakeview Academy transfer and Messiah Dorsey and Xavier Bledson have both hit big shots over their career. Phlan Fleming is usually the focal point of the offense for Cedar Shoals from his wing position, but Snipe Hall, Jerrick Mitchell and big man Stavion Stevenson have brought the Jags to the next level with their balanced play.

Pace-GACNo. 5 GAC (4-3) at No. 2 Pace Academy (0-2)
Don’t let the record fool you. Pace may be winless but they have held on tight to their No. 2 ranking for good reason. A 7-point loss to 6A No. 1 Westlake and a 56-44 loss this past weekend at Adidas Xplosion to 1A No. 1 Greenforest are as good of losses as you can get. Class of 2017 No. 1 overall player according to many pundits, Wendell Carter Jr., is a beast inside at 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball, shoot from the outside, protect the paint and may be the state’s best rebounder. Shooters Zack Kaminsky and Caleb Holifield are lethal from the outside while Isaiah Kelly brings an active 6-foot-8 body inside to pair with Carter. GAC is working its way back to full strength. Leading scorer Brian Coffey Jr. will try to give it a go at point guard after injuring his knee last week. Garrett Covington can do everything with the basketball and causes matchup problems from his off-guard position. Jacob Hoffman came down with an ankle injury in a 75-67 overtime win over rival No. 6 Holy Innocents, but when healthy, he is one of the best shooters in the state. Freshman guard Hunter McIntosh is tough to rattle as shown when he poured in 27 points in Coffey’s absence. Charlie O’Briant stands 6-foot-8 and will be a game-time decision after a severe laceration to his lip. He and big man Chris Hinton, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, will need to put a body on Carter the entire game and try to push him outside like Greenforest did successfully.

Grayson-BerkmarGrayson (5-0) at Berkmar (3-3)
There is a long line of talented teams waiting to crack the top ten in Class AAAAAA. Berkmar opened there, but quickly dropped out. Grayson now might be the next in line to seize the opportunity. Some of the best guards in the state will be going head-to-head in this Gwinnett County Region 8 slugfest. Austin Dukes and Alphonso Willis is a pair of lethal senior guards for Coach Geoffrey Pierce’s team. Dukes scored 23 points and handed out five assists in a 58-52 win over Centennial. There also is some balance behind these two guards. Trey Sconiers, Kenyon Jackson and Hafeez Anifowoshe are all important contributors scoring and rebounding the ball. Berkmar relies of Indiana-commit Al Durham to cook up offense. The lanky yet smooth southpaw can drive the lane and burry deep threes. Running mates Jay Estime, Darius Harrison, Josh Faulkner, Leroy Jones IV and Lane Foster make the Patriots extremely deep on the perimeter.

Hughes-PebblePebblebrook (3-4) at Langston Hughes (6-1)
Make no bones about it, Region 3-AAAAAA is the most athletic and exciting region in the state bar none. Expect the points to drop at a neck breaking pace and get your popcorn ready because there will be highlights galore night in and night out, especially when Pebblebrook rolls into town. At 3-4, the Falcons are much better than their record shows and are loaded with D-1 talent in Auburn signee Jared Harper, Collin Sexton and JJ Smith. Those three are the straws that stir the drink. They like to run-and-gun and pull up for deep threes, but they can be susceptible to breakdowns on defense. Harper averages over 30 points per game and Sexton went for 40 points in a 96-94 heartbreaking loss to 2A No. 2 St. Francis at Adidas Xplosion, in which the guards forgot to rotate back on Harper’s shot with 8 seconds left, allowing St. Francis to pitch the ball ahead for an uncontested Kobi Simmons dunk with 1.1 seconds remaining. Coach Rory Welsh likes to run his inverted flex offense which can pick teams apart if they aren’t fundamentally sound on defense. Junior guard Khalil Cuffee has D-1 written all over him. He may not be as flashy as his counterparts, but his steady game and his pure three-point stroke make him hard to stop. He is averaging 18.4 points per game and gets help from Derrick Cook (16.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists) and Justin Jones (10.6 points). Isaiah Green can be an X-factor with his toughness inside and his knack for doing the dirty work.

Gwinnett County Media Day Coverage

October 13 was Gwinnett County Media Day for the upcoming basketball season which starts in less than a month. Norcross High School held the event in its Media Center and coaches, players and of course members of the media filed in. It’s rare to have as much great talent – coaches and players – in the same location at once, making the event one that couldn’t be missed.

To wrap up the event, three-star forward and rising prospect, Shiloh’s Josh Okogie, took the stage to announce that he is committing to Georgia Tech.

At the event, four schools were seated at different tables across the room, ready to give access to the media that would approach them. The event started around 3:15 p.m. and lasted till after 6:30.

Getting The Scoop

I had a chance to talk with a handful of coaches to figure out what each team’s outlook is heading into the 2015 season. With such a big county and schools as to close to each other as they are, one of the major storylines heading into Media Day was the movement of transfers in the area.

At least 13 transfers are expected to make impacts right away. One program that was hit hard by the moving van was Duluth, the Wildcats coming off a 20-9 season with two seniors graduating and key juniors Anthony Showell (St. Francis) and AJ Cheeseman (Collins Hill) transferring away for their final season.

Coach Eddie Hood kept a positive outlook for the upcoming season and even said there might be some “addition by subtraction” regarding the shakeup of the roster. Back is senior shot blocker Obinna Ofodile and highly-touted incoming freshman, 6-foot-10 Alex Powell, is expected to make a major impact right away. Hood described Powell as a high-major prospect that already has an advanced skill set.

Some younger players are going to be thrust into big roles this season along with Powell. Hood has worked diligently with the feeder program and has capable guys ready to log minutes. The Wildcats will have last year’s JV MVP Will Huzzie and Shiloh transfer  and JV standout Brandon Blair, who both have an opportunity to make waves this year.

Over at Meadowcreek, new head coach Willie Reese comes over after leading Sandy Creek to a state playoff appearance two consecutive season. Reese didn’t get a lot of time with the program over the summer, but he already envisions the type of team he wants, stating that he “loves” big guards, something that coach Paul Hewitt was known for while at Georgia Tech. Reese said ideally if he could build a roster it would consist of all players ranging from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-5 which could use their length defensively and pose matchup problems on offense.

At Greater Atlanta Christian, the Spartans welcome home alumni and former two-time region champion from back in his playing days in 1998-2000, coach David Eaton. The early 30’s coach is excited to be back in his stomping grounds but added that he isn’t worried about filling the shoes of the great Eddie Martin. Eaton said that he doesn’t really try to compare himself to Martin or anyone because, “whenever you try and measure yourself up to someone, you usually fall short,” in terms of each coach being different and having their own style.

Junior guard Brian Coffey is expected to have a big season and has spent his time training with specific and situational drills to get better, working on his strength and explosion. Three schools have offered the guard: North Florida, Presbyterian College and UNC-Asheville.

Collins Hill has added three new pieces in AJ Cheeseman, Chris Parks (Lanier) and TeShaun Hightower (Towers), but in attendance were junior guards Max Clark and JD Ozoh. Devin Watson led the team in scoring from his guard position last year, but has now graduated. Ozoh said he doesn’t feel any pressure to pick up his slack and said that it will be a team effort this year to get the job done.

Berkmar added two new starters to the backcourt in Zach Cooks (Norcross) and Jay Estime (Peachtree Ridge). Coach Greg Phillips says he has about seven guards who are all starter material and now gives the Patriots great depth. Big man Robert Hill, a Duluth transfer, is working to become eligible for the season.

Phillips said that he wants his team to run-and-gun with his great guard play, but it will all come down to defending and getting stops to enable a fast pace style. Senior guard Lane Foster will be tabbed as the team’s go-to defensive stopper on the perimeter, while Al Durham, a division one prospect, will be the team’s primary offensive playmaker. Leroy Jones IV, who was in attendance with Durham and Foster, is a true two-way player who can get buckets on offense and still give fits to opposing offensive players.

New program Discovery under Cory Cason, feels like they can be competitive starting year one. Cason, a former Norcross assistant, is excited about the chance to build a program and is constantly reminding the kids that “they represent the school” when trying to leave a legacy.

Jaden Stanley is a 6-foot-5 forward from Montana that has transferred in and could be an integral part to the Titans’ opening season. Kids from Meadowcreek, Central Gwinnett and Berkmar primarily make up the Titans roster, but DJ Young from Milton is a guard who could play a big role this year. Theo Benn is a Berkmar transfer and also could find himself in the starting rotation. Coach Cason foresees his guard play as being a strength in 2015.

Also, here is a little Periscope interview I did. Hopefully it lasts longer than 24 hours: https://t.co/esmBdE94g5