Tag Archives: Game Stories

No. 7 Sprayberry survives OT shootout at Sequoyah, 103-101

No. 7 Sprayberry 103, Sequoyah 101 OT

Sequoyah Sprayberry

Following an explosive 96-88 first meeting back on January 5th, No. 7 Sprayberry (21-3, 14-1) and Sequoyah (18-6, 11-4) met in the War Lodge for an important Region 6-AAAAAA bout. With temperatures dropping to below freezing, the two offensive-minded clubs set Hickory Flat ablaze with one of the most entertaining games of the season.

The Chiefs got off to a quick start, leading 4-0 behind a Myles McGee breakaway slam, but Sprayberry saw DJ Patrick hit his first of the team’s 11 threes to get the Yellow Jackets on the board.

Sequoyah and Sprayberry traded baskets at a breakneck pace, but there was some defense sprinkled in as Patrick erased a DJ King layup attempt.

Justin Day ignited an 11-2 run with an offensive rebound and put-back which helped the Jackets push their lead to 27-19.

At the end of one, Sprayberry held a 27-21 lead as Patrick scored nine of his 14 points in the opening frame to pace the Yellow Jackets.

The Chiefs kept close as the trio of McGee, Donovan Shipp and Jacksen Greco attacked the basket, Greco floating in a shot in traffic to cut the Sprayberry lead to 42-36 with 2:28 left in the second.

But while Sequoyah slashed into the lane, Sprayberry bombed from deep with Shamar Joseph coming off the bench to nail three three-pointers in a row, building the Jacket advantage to 48-38. Sprayberry sank seven trifectas in the first half, but McGee buried a buzzer beater to send the Chiefs into the break down 50-41.

Sequoyah came out and trimmed the deficit to 52-46 but, but Sprayberry answered with a 9-2 run to extend the lead back to 61-48 at the 6:05 mark of the third quarter. 6-foot-5 sophomore Jaylin Galloway, younger brother of former Buford/Milton post Kyrin Galloway (UNCG), started to make his presence felt around the rim, balancing Sprayberry’s perimeter orientated offense by scoring eight points in the paint. Galloway’s bucket with 2:50 left gave Sprayberry a 69-56 lead before Sequoyah turned the tables.

The Chiefs ripped off an 8-0 run in a span of 1:36 to close the gap to 69-64 as Shipp and McGee carried the offense, scoring 10 and 9 points, respectively, while King brought his trademark high energy and athleticism on defense.

Sprayberry regained momentum after a defensive break down led to Joseph’s fourth three of the night as the Yellow Jackets took a 75-66 lead into the fourth.

The Yellow Jackets saw Matt Jenkins score six points in the quarter to help Sprayberry build an 85-73 lead with 4:14 remaining as the Jackets were on the verge of running Sequoyah out of the gym but over the final 254 seconds, the Chiefs’ aggressive press finally cracked Sprayberry.

A wild 14-2 run saw Sequoyah tie the game at 87 at the 1:18 mark after McGee cashed in on an And-1 but missed his free throw and saw Greco swoop in for the offensive rebound and game-tying put-back.

Sequoyah came away with a steal from McGee but he and King botched point-blank layup attempts with only one Sprayberry defender in initial position. The Chiefs missed another bunny up close but retained possession after a loose ball scramble with the arrow pointing in favor of the home team with 19.1 seconds remaining.

Shipp sliced to the basket with under 10 seconds to play and was denied by Galloway who collected the block and pitched ahead to Day who airmailed an outlet pass to a wide-open Jenkins, the ball sailing out of bounds as the Chiefs breathed a sigh of relief with 2.1 seconds left in regulation.

The Chiefs’ ensuing inbounds was stolen away but a tumbling Yellow Jacket couldn’t establish his footing and his falling down unbalanced heave at the buzzer fell well short from just 15 feet away, sending the game to overtime tied at 87.

Galloway’s interior presence loomed large in overtime as he scored seven of his team-high 27 points in the quarter to go along with his 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks on the night.

With 1:08 left to play, McGee slashed to the basket for an And-1 and knotted the game up at 99, but again, missed the free throw as the Chiefs failed to take the lead.

McGee got momentary redemption, hitting a tough shot in the lane for his 29th point of the night to tie the game at 101, but the Chiefs failed to get back in transition after the made bucket as the Yellow Jackets tossed ahead to Day for a layup to make it 103-101 with 14.1 seconds remaining.

The Chiefs had a final possession to tie the game and got the ball down low to McGee on a cutting post up, but as he pivoted toward the middle of the lane he was met with traffic and fumbled the ball away allowing Sprayberry to collect it and clear the ball out of harm’s way and tick off the final 3 seconds to secure the number one seed in Region 6-AAAAAA as No. 6 South Cobb fell to Allatoona 69-63.

My Take

It was a wildly entertaining game to watch. Both teams put on a good show offensively but lack state championship caliber defense. Sprayberry seems to have a higher ceiling than Sequoyah with their envious offensive depth as six players scored 12 points or more, five of them knocking down at least one three. When they are hot, Sprayberry can do damage from deep but it was the emergence of 6-foot-5 sophomore Jaylin Galloway who really carried the Yellow Jackets in the second half scoring 17 of his game-high 27 in the final three periods. He has nice length and a calm touch around the rim in traffic. He and 6-foot-5 senior DJ Patrick killed Sequoyah on the glass combining for 21 rebounds, dominating their matchup with 6-foot-4 Ayden Watson who grabbed just two rebounds for the Chiefs.  Shamar Joseph provided instant offense off the bench with four threes while Saigon Kitt and Justin Day chose their spots when to attack the defense. Senior Matt Jenkins was the engine for Sprayberry finishing with 20 points and 11 assists. Sprayberry has the guard play to play extremely fast but defensively, they have a lot of work to do if they want to make a deep run at state.

Donovan Shipp and the Chiefs sliced up Sprayberry’s on-ball defense, getting into the paint at an alarming rate. In fact, it was the most aggressive I’ve seen Shipp play in three years, attacking the basket at will finishing with a game-high 30 points and 6 assists. Shipp has grown tremendously over his first three seasons and should be a D-II target for schools looking for a heady assist-man that can score when he needs to. Myles McGee had 29 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, but his night ended on a sour note with his 2-of-9 free throw shooting and turnover to end the game. Even with his shortcomings tonight, his gladiator mentality on the floor paired with the football toughness of gridiron teammate DJ King makes the athletic duo the most important pieces to Sequoyah’s full court press. King netted just 6 points but had 5 rebounds, 6 steals and 2 blocks, making his biggest impact defensively. Jacksen Greco had a strong 25-point outing, nailing 3 threes and collecting 6 rebounds and 4 assists in the process. His passing has improved year to year as he is developing into a well-rounded player breaking the mold of just a three-point specialist. Ayden Watson disappointed tonight against Sprayberry’s frontline. Watson has been integral to the Chiefs’ success this year providing size, energy and athleticism in the paint but he was a non-factor with 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals and 1 block. While Sprayberry struggled defending drives, Sequoyah’s bugaboo was poor rotations leading to too many wide-open three-point shooters. Both teams showed their strengths and weaknesses and in a classification void of a true favorite, both teams could see an Elite Eight berth as a real possibility depending on how the brackets and region tournaments play out.

Top Performers

Sprayberry
Jaylin Galloway – 27 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
Matt Jenkins – 20 points, 3 rebounds, 11 assists, 1 steal
Saigon Kitt – 15 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
DJ Patrick – 14 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block
Justin Day – 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Shamar Joseph – 12 points (4 threes), 1 rebound

Sequoyah
Donovan Shipp – 30 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
Myles McGee – 29 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals
Jacksen Greco – 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
DJ King – 6 points, 5 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 blocks

No. 2 Fayette County sweeps No. 2 Sandy Creek behind 14 threes; Richard second half heroics

5ANo. 2 Fayette County 72, 4ANo. 2 Sandy Creek 71

TJ Bickerstaff free throw

Since picking up their first win of the year back on November 13th at Sandy Creek 74-66, road bumps have been few and far between for Class 5A No. 2 Fayette County (14-2). On Friday night, the Tigers had a chance to earn a season sweep of their cross-town rival Class 4A No. 2 Sandy Creek (10-3) in front of a nearly packed house. The game started and ended with star forward TJ Bickerstaff at the foul line.

The Patriots got off to a quick start, leading before a second even ticked off the clock as Drexel-signee TJ Bickerstaff sank two technical free throws after Fayette County was T’d up during warmups. The Patriots led 8-1 with 6-foot-8 sophomore Jabari Smith using a soft jump hook around the rim, but Fayette County regained their composure with 6-foot-4 senior point guard Terrell Bradley – back from an early season suspension – getting into the paint and finishing.

Coach Jon-Michael Nickerson turned to his bench early and inserted 6-foot-5 sophomore Deshon Proctor into the game, who paid dividends right away with six first quarter points including a slam off a Bickerstaff assist with 1:40 left to play to give Sandy Creek a 16-13 edge.

Twenty seconds later however, Bickerstaff would pick up his second foul and head to the bench.

At the end of one, Sandy Creek led 18-16 after Kingston Calhoun knocked down a three with 37 seconds left from Bradley to slice into the lead.

Bickerstaff checked back into the game at the 6:38 mark before picking up his third foul just 17 seconds later and he would check out with 5:55 on the clock and sit the rest of the half with his Patriots leading 20-19.

Fayette County went on a 5-0 spurt with Bickerstaff benched, JeKobe Coleman drilling his third three of the game as the Tigers picked apart the Patriot zone.

The Tigers had another 6-0 mini-run sparked by Joshua Dupree, who chased down a layup attempt on the fast break to pin it on the backboard then trailed the play heading the other way as Bradley found him open for a transition three to make it 29-25 before Ricky Knight Jr. cashed in on his own three to push the lead to 32-25 with 1:43 left in the second quarter.

Like a game of tug of war, it was Sandy Creek’s turn to pull on the rope as Julian Alexander and Smith scored late to trim the deficit to 34-32 heading into halftime.

The Patriots scored the first four points of the second half to nudge ahead 36-34, but at the 6:23 mark Bickerstaff was whistled for his fourth foul on a charge and was banished back to the bench.

The depth and the well-rounded play of Sandy Creek shined in Bickerstaff’s absence as Proctor continued to pose a problem for the guard-oriented lineup of Fayette County, receiving a dish from Alexander and powering home a two-handed flush to give the Patriots some cushion with 5 minutes to play in the third quarter now up 42-36.

Just when it looked like Sandy Creek would gain separation, Fayette County’s three-point barrage started to bomb from deep. The Tigers went on an 8-0 run with Knight hitting back-to-back threes in the right corner to give Fayette County a 44-42 lead at the 3:34 mark.

With the Patriot zone now concerned about the outside shooting of Fayette County – the Tigers hitting 14 threes on the night – the middle of the zone was wide open for 6-foot-4 sophomore William Richard to score two of his 16 second half points up close.

Sandy Creek responded on offense with Alexander scoring six of his 12 points in the quarter and Keith Williams III breaking loose for eight points, nailing two threes. The Patriots finished with a flurry as Proctor banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Sandy Creek a 57-52 lead after three quarters with their star player having played less than 10 minutes.

Bickerstaff re-entered the game at the 6:50 mark and immediately demanded the ball on a post-up and went to the line where he split a pair of free throws.

Following a scoreless first half, Richard netted eight points including two threes as Fayette County regained the lead with 5:05 to play, 65-63.

Back and forth the two rivals went over the final five minutes.

Sandy Creek got a third dunk from Proctor as the Patriots moved ahead 69-68 at the 3:05 mark.

Trying to nurse a one-point lead with less than two minutes to play, Alexander’s cross court pass was intercepted by Knight and finished on the other end to give the Tigers a 70-69 lead with 1:33 to play.

The Patriots responded by dumping it down low to Bickerstaff who made a strong move toward the middle of the paint to take back a 71-70 lead with 1:12 remaining.

On the other end, Richard scored his 16th and final point off the bench to give Fayette County the lead for good with less than a minute to play.

The Patriots got a bad look at the basket with 28.1 seconds left and had to foul twice to send Coleman to the line. The three-point sniper missed the front end of the one-and-one and gave the ball back to Sandy Creek now with 17.5 left on the clock.

Sandy Creek drove and dropped off to Proctor who was body-checked but no whistle came. The ball squirted loose and in a wild scramble the Patriots temporarily regained possession before a kickball was called and Sandy Creek had the ball out of bounds with 5.6 seconds remaining.

Coach Nickerson got the ball into the hands of Bickerstaff who drew a foul and was sent to the line for two free throws with 1.8 seconds left on the clock. Bickerstaff missed the first and after a timeout, missed the second as the Tigers held on in dramatic fashion to sweep the season series.

My Take

Friday night was one of the best games of the season. The largest lead of the game was seven points for both teams while there were too many lead changes to keep up with. Fayette County is the real deal in Class 5A and a legitimate state title contender with how they shoot the three. They banged in 14 threes and destroyed the Patriots zone. Fayette County’s guards are interchangeable with everyone standing between 6-foot-0 and 6-foot-4 and all able to stroke the deep ball as five players connected from distance. 6-foot-4 senior point guard Terrell Bradley has found his groove after serving his suspension. He’s got great size for the lead guard position and has a nice touch when whipping the ball inside. His length even led to three blocked shots. Fayette County might not have one sure-fire D-I prospect but they have a ton of mouth-watering D-II and JUCO options that can help programs quickly. 6-foot-3 senior Josh Dupree is a bouncy glue guy that can affect the game on both ends, 6-foot junior JeKobe Coleman is a lethal three-point shooter along with 6-foot-2 senior Ricky Knights Jr., both canning five three-pointers. The biggest difference maker however was 6-foot-4 sophomore William Richard who came off the bench and scored all 16 of his points in the second half. Richard doesn’t really have a position, but he plays anywhere from three through five for Coach Andre Flynn. His activity on the glass, his soft touch inside and his ability to step outside and hit the three makes him the perfect compliment in the Tigers’ guard-oriented lineup. Fayette County has the talent to run the table the rest of the regular season and position themselves for a deep run in Class 5A.

In the loss, there were good takeaways for Sandy Creek. Their depth was key with 6-foot-5 sophomore Deshon Proctor leading the way with 15 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. He is a man-child inside with his strength and he looked a lot more comfortable playing around the basket than he did in the summer. Similar to Proctor is 6-foot-8 sophomore Jabari Smith who looked like a completely different player than when I last saw him at Carrollton over the summer months. Smith showed toughness with his slender frame, playing with his back to the basket. He scored on a pretty baby hook to ignite his night and showed that he could put the ball on the floor and hit the three. His five blocked shots around the rim were key as well. Smith has a high ceiling with his skillset and it was nice to see him not fall in love with his guard skills and stand on the three-point line. 6-foot-3 senior Julian Alexander had a nice spurt in the third quarter but went scoreless in the fourth. He’s a solid all-around scorer that should be in the mix for D-II schools. Junior guard Keith Williams III had a quiet first half but he had an important eight-point stretch in the third quarter. It was a nightmarish night for Drexel-signee TJ Bickerstaff who could never find a flow in the game. With foul trouble hampering his play, he had a chance to save the day at the end but it wasn’t in the cards. I was surprised with how much zone Sandy Creek played against such a potent outside shooting team. The Patriots had some weak close outs and a few mental breakdowns on rotations which hurt them.

Top Performers

Fayette County
Ricky Knight Jr. – 22 points (5 threes), 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
JeKobe Coleman – 17 points (5 threes), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
William Richard – 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Terrell Bradley – 8 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

Sandy Creek
Deshon Proctor – 15 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
Jabari Smith – 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 block
Julian Alexander – 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Keith Williams III – 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
TJ Bickerstaff – 9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

Record-breaking 18 threes shoot No. 5 Chattahoochee past Cambridge

No. 5 Chattahoochee 98, Cambridge 84

Chattahoochee vs. Cambridge basketball

Winners of five-straight heading into Thursday’s crucial Region 7-AAAAAA showdown, No. 5 Chattahoochee (13-3, 5-2) entered play as possibly Class 6A’s hottest team, debuting in the Top 10 after clawing their way to a Blue Bracket Championship at the Tournament of Champions last week. Cambridge (10-6, 6-2) made the 9-mile drive from Milton to Alpharetta with something to prove after getting ran out of the gym and the state rankings two weeks ago by No. 7 Sequoyah 109-80.

In an up-for-grabs region, both teams came out hot trading blows to start with UGA Head Coach Tom Crean in attendance. There were hardly any whistles or stoppages in play as the game fluidly saw Chattahoochee hold a slim 13-12 lead to start before the Cougars embarked on a historic night.

AJ White hit one of his seven threes to give Chattahoochee a 19-14 lead.

Cam Sheffield followed up with a three of his own before Grant Van Beveren scored inside for Chattahoochee’s final hoop of the quarter as the Cougars led 24-19 after one.

In the first quarter alone, the Cougars nailed six threes – a foreboding sign as Chattahoochee would burry a school-record 18 threes on the night.

Cambridge tried to play a 1-3-1 zone to start the second quarter but poor rotations led to even more open shooters as Chattahoochee grew their lead to 32-22.

Star sophomore Matt Cleveland glided his way to the basket for two of his 12 first half points, but the Cougars still led 35-26.

The onslaught continued as the Cougars pulled away.

White and Franklin Bailey went back-to-back from deep to make it a 43-26 game at the 3:26 mark. At the half Chattahoochee held a commanding 53-36 lead, knocking down 13 threes as Sheffield (18), White (17) and Bailey (12) all reached double figures and combined for all 13 trifectas.

Tired of peppering the Bears from beyond the arc, Coach Chris Short began to pound it inside to Van Beveren where Cambridge had no defensive answers either. The 6-foot-6 senior scored eight quick points and pushed the lead to 70-44 with 2:43 left in the third. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Cougars led 74-52 behind 16 three-pointers.

Bryce Boutelle tried to spark Cambridge with consecutive threes, scoring 11 of his 21 points in the final frame but the hole was too deep to climb out of. The Bears turned over the Cougars with their press and trimmed the lead to 80-66 with 4:28 remaining, but Chattahoochee would answer as Van Beveren closed the door on a comeback with nine points down the stretch.

Bailey hit Chattahoochee’s final three-ball of the night to extend the lead to 91-72 before coasting to a dominant 98-84 rout at home.

My Take

I got to witness Chattahoochee at their absolute best. When they are hitting threes like they did last night they are tough to beat, but even with 18 made threes they did only win by 14 points. The Cougars are heavily reliant on the perimeter shot. AJ White has to be in the discussion for best pound-for-pound scoring point guard in the 2021 class. He never shies away from an open look and he was nearly automatic tonight, nailing 7 threes and scoring 25 points. Just like a lot of great guards around the state, his biggest deterrent come recruitment time will be his 5-foot-8 height. Someone who doesn’t have a problem with size is 6-foot-6 junior wing Cam Sheffield. He’s a good-looking D-I prospect that can hit the long ball (5 threes) but also put the ball on the deck and get to the hoop. He had 26 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. I highlighted junior shooting guard Franklin Bailey back in May at SportalSlam and he has carried his sharpshooting momentum into the high school season. Bailey is a one-dimensional player right now, but he is dang good at that dimension, sinking 6 threes to finish with 18 points. Bailey is a lethal floor stretcher that has burned opponents that have decided to key in on slowing down White and Sheffield and have neglected to find Bailey on the three-point line. Bailey can be a streaky shooter however and if he is cold that is when Grant Van Beveren is possibly the most important piece for the Cougars. With the amount of three-pointers attempted and made by the Cougars, it’s amazing to realize the 6-foot-6 senior was still able to dominate when he touched the ball, posting an efficient 23 points and 11 rebounds. Van Beveren is a workhorse that does the dirty work inside for Chattahoochee. His ability to score with his back to the basket and rebound at a high clip is what makes the Cougars more than just a jump shot loving team. My concern with Chattahoochee is their extreme lack of depth. Out of their 98 points scored, 92 of them came from Sheffield (26), White (25), Van Beveren (23) and Bailey (18). Outside of those four, there are no offensive threats and only six players played in the first half. If White, Sheffield or Van Beveren sustain an injury or get in serious foul trouble, the Cougars could be in trouble against a team that has depth, athletes and can defend full court.

Cambridge was very disappointing tonight with their lack of defensive effort. Even with Kamar Robertson back, the Bears just didn’t have enough to dig in and get stops. Allowing a team to hit 18 threes – many not contested very well – is inexcusable. They will need to go back to the drawing board after allowing 207 points in their last two games against Top 10 opponents. Matthew Cleveland put together a nice game in front of UGA Head Coach Tom Crean, posting 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. He was steady throughout. Unsigned senior Kamar Robertson scored 22 points with eight coming in the fourth quarter. He added 4 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals. Bryce Boutelle like Robertson, got hot in the fourth quarter with 11 points. He’s a nice scorer that should garner D-III interest. 6-foot-6 junior center Sola Adebisi is long and athletic. He showed that he could knock down the 15-footer from the elbow and blocked three shots. He did not rebound all that well, but most of the time the Bears were getting the ball out of the net.

Top Performers

Chattahoochee
Cam Sheffield – 26 points (5 threes), 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block
AJ White – 25 points (7 threes), 4 rebounds, 5 assists
Grant Van Beveren – 23 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
Franklin Bailey – 18 points (6 threes), 1 rebound, 4 assists, 1 block
David McDaniel – 6 points, 1 rebound

Cambridge
Matthew Cleveland – 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Kamar Robertson – 22 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals
Bryce Boutelle – 21 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Sola Adebisi – 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks

Barron & Hulsman help extinguish No. 8 Chattooga comeback

Alpharetta 54, No. 8 Chattooga 47

Playing one of the toughest schedules in Class AA and by far the most strenuous out of the North Georgia mountains instead of hiding and padding their record like so many other schools have in the past, No. 8 Chattooga (5-4) has made a concerted effort to test themselves, not for Region 7 play but for the big picture – the state tournament. The undersized Indians were back on the road Thursday afternoon making the 69-mile drive to the War Lodge Invitational at Sequoyah where they battled Alpharetta (8-4), a Class AAAAAA school starting to find its groove.

With 5-foot-6 Jundraius “Nuk” Adams benched to start the game, Alpharetta took advantage of the smaller offense-less Indians by jumping out to an 8-2 lead behind a Kalik Brooks And-1 and threes from North Carolina A&T-signee Brandon Barron and Machi Sibblies. 6-foot-5 junior Josh Spencer made his season debut after an ankle sprain and broken finger sidelined him for the first 11 games and quickly made an impact inside with his rebounding and defense.

At the end of one, Alpharetta led 14-4, but much like at the SportalShowcase against No. 1 Woodville-Tompkins, once Adams entered the game and hit his first shot, the wheels began to turn for the Indians. Back-to-back Adams hoops cut the score to 17-9 at the 6:46 mark before Jamarious Mosteller banked in a jumper to make it 22-14.

As the Indians inched closer and closer, the backcourt of Barron and Brooks held them at arm’s reach. Saddled with foul trouble in the first quarter, Brooks went 4-of-4 from the line while Barron nailed his second three and added a layup to combine for nine of the Raiders’ 14 second quarter points.

With 1:15 remaining in the half, Jayden Stephens cleaned up a Barron miss and made the score 26-17.

Alpharetta entered the half up 28-20 but Coach Jared Groce made adjustments to find more open looks for Chattooga as the Indians sparked a 5-0 run with Mosteller finishing inside to trim the lead to 28-25 at the 6:05 mark.

Adams scored to make it 33-27 with 1:57 remaining but the Raiders stole momentum heading into the fourth quarter closing on a 7-2 run ignited by a Barron assist to Kyle Hulsman in the corner for three and capped by a Barron layup before Clayton Johnson hit a late layup to send the game into the final frame with the Indians trailing 40-29.

The Raiders led 42-31 at the 6:38 mark following a Barron fast break dunk, bouncing the ball to himself and throwing it down with Johnson on his hip.

Johnson answered back with a hoop of his own, but Spencer wore down the smaller Indians on the offensive glass, garnering another rebound and put-back to edge the lead out to 44-36 with 4:40 to play.

 

Thirty-seven seconds later, not knowing he had four fouls, Johnson fouled out at half court leaving the Indians without one of their top scorers down the stretch, Johnson finishing his night with 12 points.

Trying to claw their way to a one possession game, Chattooga got burnt twice in a 36-second span by Hulsman who drilled back-to-back threes to give the Raiders a comfortable 52-42 lead with 2:23 remaining.

Tre Flowers gave Chattooga one last breath when he knocked down his second three of the night to bring the deficit to 52-45 with 1:47 to play, but Stephens scooped up a loose ball and laid it up to push the lead back out to nine to officially put the game out of reach.

 

My Take

Alpharetta has their best basketball coming over the next few months now that they are healthy. Josh Spencer was a major lift inside and once he gets his conditioning and feel back, he will be an important piece that can battle in the paint for Coach Eric Blair. Brandon Barron was steady throughout and played a great floor-game finishing with a game-high 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, leading the Raiders in all categories. His quickness and athleticism helped him slice into the lane at will and his two three-pointers helped stretch the defense. Speaking of stretching the defense, Kyle Hulsman looked like Robert Horry, nailing crushing threes in the second half. His nine points were the difference late in the game. Kalik Brooks sat for a majority of the first half with foul trouble but he was productive when on the floor and earned rave reviews from the Indians after the game. His length gave them fits on defense but it was his slithery ability to maneuver into the lane for layups which got him going.

Chattooga’s inability to score in the first quarter came back to haunt them. Nuk Adams is so important for their offensive flow, he is their engine. Without Adams buckets are hard to come by, but once he sees his first shot drop, it energizes the entire team. Having a streaky 5-foot-6 point guard as their best shot creator can be tough at times, but the Indians playing against teams with great length will prepare them for the state tournament where they won’t have to worry about too many lineups that can start four players over 6-foot-4. Clayton Johnson played a very nice game offensively with 12 points and hit two timely threes. Having his three-point shot calibrated helps the Indians space the floor and allow Adams to create shots for others. Lefty Tre Flowers stepped up with eight points and nailed two threes while Jamarious Mosteller impacted the game on both sides of the ball. The Indians needed more production from their forwards Malachi Mack and Devin Price who combined for three points. Mack rebounded the ball well in the first half and finished with three blocks, but Price could never find a niche to impact the game like he usually does. The Indians have proven they can compete with bigger and better teams and that they aren’t just another prototypical North Georgia team that feasts on cupcakes. They are a serious threat come February. Chattooga’s lack of true full-time basketball players may hurt them down the stretch, but their competitiveness and athleticism will keep them in every game, especially in Class 2A.

Top Performers

Alpharetta
Brandon Barron – 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
Kalik Brooks – 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
Kyle Hulsman – 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Josh Spencer – 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 blocks
Jayden Stephens – 5 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal
Machi Sibblies – 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal

Chattooga
Nuk Adams – 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Clayton Johnson – 12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Jamarious Mosteller – 11 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals
Tre Flowers – 8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Malachi Mack – 2 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 3 blocks

Paulding County collects 30 steals in blitz of East Paulding

Paulding County 90, East Paulding 77

In front of two vocal student sections that lacked a filter, Paulding County (12-1) put their nearly pristine record on the line against cross town Region 7-AAAAA rival East Paulding (6-5), who is already two wins away from their most victories in a season since 2012-13 under new Head Coach JW Cantrell. Even with the clear size, skill and athletic advantage it wasn’t until the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter that the Patriots were finally able to put away an upset-minded Raider group.

The Patriots entered Wednesday night without one of the state’s top scorers, Jervon Morris (24.9 ppg) who was suspended for disciplinary reasons. Even without Morris, Paulding County played their trademark up-tempo style and pressed the full length of the court.

East Paulding traded buckets with Paulding County as Azer Tidor, a 20+ point-per-game scorer got to the rack early for six points in the opening frame.

Tidor never got into a clean flow however as the Paulding County press harassed East Paulding and picked up eight of their 30 steals in the first quarter to set the tone while John Cook capitalized on the other end, the athletic 6-foot-5 forward scoring nine points to give the Patriots a 22-19 lead after one.

Missing star post Sean Rutledge, Coach Cantrell turned to Cole Brown who provided a spark in the second quarter scoring and rebounding the ball, but Paulding County continued to stretch the lead, going on a 10-4 run to make it 32-23 at the 4:32 mark, Cook scoring eight points during the stretch.

With the Patriots having the ability to bury opponents in a flash, the Raiders responded with a 7-0 run of their own, Silas Johnson Jr. knocking down a three and Ravon Melon finishing two And-1s, but missing both free throw attempts to make it 32-30 with 3:03 left in the first half.

As East Paulding tried to make a game of it, Paulding County punched back with their defensive pressure suffocating the Raiders. Keon Sedgwick capped a 7-2 run which pushed the lead out to 39-32.

At the half Paulding County led 44-39 playing at a Patriot pace. By the break, Cook had already dumped in 20 points and the free throw advantage for the aggressive Patriots started to balloon, going 11-of-20 from the line while East Paulding shot 1-of-6, both teams leaving crucial points at the line.

The Patriots popped East Paulding right out of the gate in the third, swarming for easy steals – Sedgwick, Corleone Thomas and Jamal McIver at the forefront of the pressure which made the score 50-41 after two Sedgwick pull-ups. But once again, East Paulding wouldn’t lay down, cutting the lead back to three before a Thomas layup in traffic made it 52-47 at the 4:48 mark.

The Raiders cut the lead to 58-54 but in the blink of an eye, a Trell Evans three and a McIver steal and layup grew the Patriot advantage to 63-54 with 1:13 remaining before settling with a 67-56 lead heading into the fourth quarter after closing the third on a 9-2 run, Evans netting 11 points in the period.

With East Paulding seemingly on the ropes, the Raiders struck a 9-1 run to trim the score to 68-65 at the 6:20 mark following a Johnson three and put-back.

The three-point deficit would be as close as the Raiders would get as Cook unleashed an onslaught in the final six minutes after failing to score in the third. The senior piled in 12 of his game-high 32 points in the deciding quarter as the Patriots ripped off a 13-2 run to put the game out of reach, making it 81-67 with 3:10 left to play.

In the fourth quarter the Patriots went 7-of-19 from the line, taking more attempts than the Raiders did the entire game going 9-for-18. Paulding County finished 20-of-42 from the line but the story was East Paulding’s inability to handle the press and Cook’s knockout fourth that closed the game 90-77 in favor of the visitors.

My Take

Paulding County was impressive with their overall length, athleticism and aggressiveness. They are the type of team that will overwhelm bad teams and feast on weaker competition which they have done so this year. They may run into trouble when they play disciplined teams with good guard play or teams that can control the tempo and play in the half court. Their lone loss came against Carrollton who had the competency to handle ball pressure and elected to run with them, winning 92-76. Either way, the Patriots are an exciting group to watch and they should be able to secure another state tournament berth and have a ton of natural talent. The details surrounding the suspension of Jervon Morris aren’t pretty if true, but if and when he’s allowed back on the court, it gives Coach Kevin Hammitt another potent scorer. John Cook was great for the Patriots tonight. After three years of chasing stability, he has found it and showed the type of talent he has finishing with 32 points (5 threes), 7 rebounds and 5 steals. He could be a good fit at the JUCO level. Sparkplug Trell Evans stepped up in a big way with his speed and tenacity. His third quarter helped Paulding County extend its lead with Cook going scoreless. The length of Corleone Thomas and Keon Sedgwick led to 13 combined steals. Sedgwick played the role of swiss army knife, collecting 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 steals and 2 blocks. He’s a wiry and lively player, always getting involved in plays. He had lightning quick hands that led to easy poke aways and showed a nice pull-up jumper.

The fact that East Paulding was able to hang around until the four-minute mark was quite impressive. Outmanned, the Raiders had to scrap all throughout the night and punished the Patriots on the glass, outrebounding the bigger and more athletic visitors 58 to 32. The Raiders were horrendous against the press and all but neutralized their large rebounding advantage however. A lack of a true point guard was apparent as the Patriots bullied them with their pressure leading to 30 Paulding County steals. 6-foot-2 senior Azer Tidor had a quiet 20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block if that’s even possible. Tidor was steady throughout, scoring six points in the first, third and fourth quarters. The 6-foot-2 combo guard is a nice sleeper prospect that doesn’t play AAU. He’s got a good feel for the game and didn’t get too flustered with the aggressive Patriot defense. He liked to pull-up from the elbow but also showed the ability to finish at the basket. He could help out a small college looking for a reliable option on the wing. Silas Johnson Jr., a 6-foot-3 senior, hit three three-pointers en route to 15 points and 8 rebounds. The lefty isn’t much of a ball handler, but he’s long and can help stretch the floor and rebound. The Raiders will be adding one of the best players in the region this January as 6-foot-5 junior post Sean Rutledge will be eligible. He is a game-changing presence with his ability to score with his back to the basket and will give Coach JW Cantrell a very talented inside-out duo with Tidor on the perimeter. East Paulding’s best basketball is on the horizon as they look to shatter last year’s 8-win mark.

Top Performers

Paulding County
John Cook – 32 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 steals, 1 block
Trell Evans – 20 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals
Corleone Thomas – 17 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals
Keon Sedgwick – 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 steals, 2 block
Kevin Brown – 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
Jamal McIver – 5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 7 steals

East Paulding
Azer Tidor – 20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Silas Johnson Jr. – 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Cole Brown – 9 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Ravon Melon – 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal