Tag Archives: creekview

No. 10 Etowah earns Cherokee County bragging rights on Senior Night against Creekview

No. 10 Etowah 60, Creekview 51

Good boys basketball in Cherokee County has been at a premium over the past decade. No. 10 Etowah (16-2) and Creekview (15-2) have tried to change that narrative this season. The Eagles, ranked in Class AAAAAAA, hosted the Grizzlies out of Region 6-AAAAAA, a team still on the search for a real resume building win, while Etowah already had scored wins over Southwest DeKalb, Peachtree Ridge and Lithonia. With their 15-game winning streak snapped last night in a 43-38 overtime trap game against Walton, the Eagles were focused on Saturday to make sure there were no lingering effects on Senior Night.

Etowah opened the game starting five seniors; regular starters Adrian Cohen (Tusculum), Carter Ingersoll (Claremont McKenna) and junior Jaxon Etter on the bench. Just 40 seconds into the game, Coach Jason Dasinger called timeout before the Eagles even had a chance to advance the ball into the frontcourt as the Grizzlies opened with a zone press.

Creekview took advantage of the situation and led 7-4 with 4:22 left in the first quarter before Dasinger subbed in his usual trio. Etter quickly hit Cohen for a corner three while 6-foot-7 Julian Baldwin had his way around the rim as Creekview’s 6-foot-6 James Wall watched from the stands, suspended after getting ejected for two technicals in Wednesday’s 74-71 win at Sequoyah. Baldwin was aggressive, knocking down two jumpers before attacking the basket and scoring 10 of his 16 points as the Eagles led 17-15 after eight minutes.

Dynamic scorer KJ Jenkins, the No. 4 ranked senior point guard in the GHSA, netted five points in the opening frame, but it was apparent that Etowah was committed to making someone else beat them. That someone else was nowhere to be found in the second quarter as the Eagles outscored the Grizzlies 16-3 in the frame.

Everyone got involved as things were clicking on both sides for the Eagles. Ingersoll knocked down a jumper to ignite a 16-1 run.

The Eagles forced countless turnovers and converted on the other end. Nick Nagy hit Za’ki Lowe for a late three to help Etowah carry a 33-18 lead into the half.

In the third quarter, it was more of the same. Etowah led by 22 at 43-21 at the 4:38 mark as Cohen bombed away from deep. The 6-foot-5 wing drilled two of his four three-pointers en route to eight of his game-high 18 points.

Creekview was on the verge of packing it in until a 39-second stretch changed the entire complexion of the game. Jenkins scored his first bucket of the second half with 39 seconds left. Grant Potts completed a 4-point play from deep. Then, after a wild inbounds, the Grizzlies came away with a Paxton Nayman steal which led to a Jenkins three at the buzzer, a 9-point spurt that turned a 23-point deficit into a manageable 50-36 hole heading into the fourth.

The madness continued in the fourth quarter as the celebratory home crowd grew quieter and quieter. Timmy Davis knocked down a corner three, followed by a Grayson Baker triple in the same spot. Baker scored nine of his team-high 12 points in the opening 3:43 of the final quarter, bringing the Grizzlies to within 52-48 with 4:17 remaining.

With flashbacks of the previous night coming all too true, the Eagles turned to Etter and Cohen to stem the tide. Etter and Cohen finished with back-to-back lay-ups to cushion the lead to 56-48 at the 2:38 mark.

With a 21-to-2 run now behind them, the Grizzlies ran out of firepower. Etowah responded with an 8-to-3 run to close a 60-51 victory, clinching their claim as the best team in Cherokee County.

My Take

The game played out how I thought it would – kind of. Etowah was the better team with more size and better wins. After paying homage to their seniors, the Eagles took off with their usual starters in the game. Julian Baldwin was at his best, attacking Creekview’s limited front line. Seeing two early jumpers fall through really gave the 6-foot-7 unsigned senior a boost of confidence. He set the tone in the first quarter and was Coach Dasinger’s cornerstone as they waited for the cavalry to arrive at the first substitution. Carter Ingersoll did what he does inside – the dirty work. I’m a fan of the 6-foot-6 post’s old school game. He collected 9 points and 7 rebounds and did it without the flash and frills. Adrian Cohen is major grab for Tusculum at the D-II level. Once primarily a slasher, Cohen has improved every season. He knocked down four three-pointers and picked up 7 rebounds. Jaxon Etter was quiet with 8 points, but he impacted the game where the scorebook doesn’t show. His steadiness played a big role in Etowah closing out the victory while it seemed everything was unraveling. He had four points in the fourth quarter, had a few nice passes and moved his feet well defensively, especially on top of the defense.

Coming into the game, I was concerned about who would be able to create their own shot outside of KJ Jenkins. Etowah locked down the potent scorer, holding him to a pair of threes, finishing with 10 points. Jenkins had no easy looks and no free passes to the basket. With deep range and the green light to pull, Jenkins tried to warm himself up with a couple tough, long threes that were contested. He was never able to get it going, which is why the Grizzlies were down big. Grayson Baker came to life in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t sustainable for the length of the game. Creekview’s most constant offense came from bruising Paxton Nayman inside. He had 11 points and 6 rebounds. For the Grizzlies to continue winning at a high clip, they will have to free up Jenkins more. If he’s not creating for himself, he must rely on finding spot up shooters. Creekview sank six threes on the night. Coach Casey Gramling’s offense is predicated on ball-movement as they just don’t have enough options that can consistently create their own shot outside of Jenkins.

Top Performers

Adrian Cohen – 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Julian Baldwin – 16 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Carter Ingersoll – 9 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block
Jaxon Etter – 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block

Grayson Baker – 12 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
Paxton Nayman – 11 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
KJ Jenkins – 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal

Peach State Stops of the Week (1/8-1/13)

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.

Cherokee County Media Day

Etowah High School hosted Cherokee County Media Day on Tuesday morning. The boys went first for an hour followed by the girls. Much to my chagrin, I was only able to stick around for the boys portion of the event before having to hustle over to the office. Here’s some news and notes from my homeland.



Head Coach: Kingston Clark
Region 4-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 14-15 

How to become a perennial state playoff team in their new region: “We’ve been working out and conditioning. It’s going to be a tough task. We don’t have Wheeler to worry about any more, thank God for that. Milton’s gone, but it’s wide open. One through six, anybody can come up and win the region.”

What the Class of 2017 means to the program: “We have a great group of seniors. Tyreke [Johnson] was First Team All-Region last year, so he actually has something to prove. Brant [Hurter] signed with Georgia Tech already with a baseball scholarship. Cam [Crowe] has had several people looking at him so he has several offers on the table. They have a lot to prove. First and foremost, the very first thing I talked to them about when I walked into Woodstock’s gymnasium, there were no banners on the wall for boys basketball. So that is the number one goal, that those guys want to leave that legacy so they can come back and have something hanging on that wall they can say they played a part of.”



Head Coach: Roger Kvam
Region 4-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 12-14 

On the importance of Phil Cirillo and the senior class: “Phil’s been on the varsity for three years so has Eli [Mayberry] and Jack Carroll, who’s been on for four years, so we have a lot of experience. Jack was on the team as a freshman and actually started. I count on all three of those guys for leadership. Phil is very talented, he can do a lot of different things and play a lot of different positions. We kind of use him like a Queen in chess to do a lot of different things. I feel like we underachieved last year. We were not good on defense and we were kind of selfish on offense and I think we addressed that this summer a little bit.”



Head Coach: Allen Whitehart
Region 4-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 14-14 

How to shape a new winning culture at Etowah: “First and foremost we came in with hard work immediately in the weight room. Most of the kids haven’t really lifted before. I feel like if you can go in there and push through barriers and kind of get a little strain going you can find out about yourself and that translates right over to the floor. We talked about everything being first class. You’ve got to look the part as well as be the part. I was fortunate enough while I was at Buford High School to be around phenomenal coaches: Gene Durden, Jess Simpson, Tony Wolfe and took a little bit from them. I was smart enough to steal a little bit and take some of that with me.”

On Kam Hickey: “He is going to be playing a 3/4 position for us. He’s going to be really counted on to be a mismatch for us for what we do offensively.”

On Lewis Simonson: “He did not play last year but he is going to be counted on as one of our leaders and someone who can knock down shots.”

On Julian Baldwin & Adrian Cohen: “Julian has a chance to have a great year. We really worked hard with his consistency, getting him stronger. His understanding of the game has really come around a lot. I feel like if he continues to improve at the rate he’s improving he will have a chance to have a phenomenal year. Another kid with a chance for a breakout year is Adrian Cohen. Adrian had a phenomenal fall and phenomenal summer on the [AAU] circuit. Again, consistency is something we are preaching with him as well. He has games when he looks like a really high level player. If those four can have consistency, they can really help us go.”



Head Coach: Allen Carden
Region 6-AAAAAA
2015-16: 20-9 

How to build an identity with a young and inexperienced group: “We’ve talked about that from Day 1 in the weight room – our culture is going to be hard work. We are going to identify with being a strong defensive team. We are going to play smart fundamental basketball. We are going to act the right way and do the right things. As much as I talk about defensive rebounding, everybody knows you still have to put the ball in the hole so you’ve got to be strong skill-wise. But identity, we are always going to hang our hat on playing defense.”



Head Coach: Casey Gramling
Region 6-AAAAAA
2015-16: 16-10 

How to become a state playoff team year-in and year-out: “That’s the million dollar question. Of course we want to be there and we do have some good pieces this year and we are trying to make a couple culture changes. One of the things we did was my team didn’t participate in a fall league this year. Now the kids are playing 100 games a year and those 25 games they play for their school just represented other games. We are trying to bring it back to where when they put on a Creekview uniform it means something to them.”

On the continuing emergence of KJ Jenkins: “KJ is a junior point guard, incredibly talented. He will be a third-year varsity player and he’s always had that mentality since he was a younger kid on the team. We are working on with him building that leadership role because this is his team and he’s the point guard. It’s a work in progress and he is doing really well in his new role. The kid can score, he’s smooth. He’s got a great shot, he can defend. We’ve had more college coaches in my gym in the last two months than we’ve had in my last two years I’ve been here. They are coming to watch KJ, they are coming to watch Chandler [Wright] and Weber [Sandlin].”


River Ridge

Head Coach: Ben Farist
Region 6-AAAAAA
2015-16: 8-18 

How to be patient with a young program and find a way to establish itself in a tough region: “I think a lot of it is not only now what we are doing, but investing in our junior program and realizing that they are the future of what we have but coaching who we have now. We aren’t getting any transfers in or anything crazy like that. So control what we can control. Working hard in the weight room to build athletes that we have currently in our program and making the offense more conducive to what we are good at.”