Tag Archives: Holy Innocents’

GHSA State Championship Recaps

March 7 – Macon Centreplex

Class AA

Laney Wildcats basketball

(G) R4 #1 Laney 63, R4 #2 Josey 40 The Wildcats ripped off a 12-0 run after trailing 16-15 to find the cushion they needed to blow past Josey for a fifth time this season and win their second-straight state title and 62nd game in-a-row. Alabama-signee De’sha Benjamin was unstoppable with 19 of her game-high 26 points in the first half when it mattered most. She finished with 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Laney led 29-20 at the half, holding the Eagles to 22.7% shooting. Jhessyka Williams tacked on 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Jaiden Hamilton tallied 14 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists as the third head of the Wildcat attack. Josey finished just 29.5% from the field and 3-of-14 from deep. Tykedra Rolland (10) and Rhykeria Rolland (7) were held to 17 points total. Ebony Clark led the Eagles with 12 points and 7 rebounds.

Thomasville Bulldogs basketball

(B) R1 #1 Thomasville 66, R2 #3 Vidalia 31 It was a blood bath from the opening tip as the bigger and more athletic Bulldogs ran wild with a 13-0 start. Sloppy Indian ball-handling led to turnovers while lazy transition defense accounted for six Bulldog first half dunks. The Indians shot 4-of-24 from the field (16.7%) and 1-of-14 from deep in the opening half as the Bulldogs led 41-10 at the break. McDonald’s All-American and Mississippi State-bound forward Reggie Perry finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. Vonterius Woolbright added 17 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds. Titus Wright had 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Vidalia was led by Tahj Jones’ 10 points. The Indians finished 2-of-25 from three. Thomasville outscored Vidalia 40-20 in the paint and had 22 points off turnovers.

Class A-Public

Greenville Lady Patriots basketball

(G#4 Greenville 73, #3 Marion County 52:  While Marion County came out double-teaming reigning Class A-Public Player of the Year and Mississippi State-signee Brittany Davis, the rest of the Lady Patriots picked up the slack, helping Greenville grab a 21-10 first quarter lead and building it to 43-26 at the break. Davis finished with 30 points (5-20 FG; 19-20 FT) 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 1 block in her final game. Freshmen Shabrica Leslie and Jabrika Leslie came up big, Shabrica posting 14 points and 5 rebounds while Jabrika had 12 points. Nuriyah Slaton finished with 8 points, 16 rebounds and 5 steals. The Lady Patriots grabbed 24 offensive rebounds and put up 26 second-chance points. Greenville out-rebounded the bigger Eagles 54-46. Marion County was led by Torriunna Myers’ 15 points. Jameisha Williams chipped in 8 points. Ashley Whitley battled for 7 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks.

Wilkinson County Warriors basketball

(B) #3 Wilkinson County 71, #5 Montgomery County 68: The Blue Storm took over the Macon Centreplex again, as the Warriors completed the three-peat, captured their 10th state title in school history and their sixth in the last eight years. Wilkinson County survived a gutsy performance from senior wing Jahleel Wilson who nearly willed the Eagles past the Warriors who are now 10-0 in state title games. Wilson had 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 blocks as he carried the Eagles. Daveaun Coglin finished with 19 points but shot 7-of-24 from the field while Shaw Robinson, who scored 22 in the Final 4, finished 2-of-11 from the field with 5 points. Wilkinson County showed they could play a fast pace game, running up and down with the Eagles in the first quarter, taking a 21-18 lead after one. The two teams entered the half tied at 38. 6-foot-6 senior center Tylan Grable came off the bench to give Wilkinson County 11 points and 14 rebounds. Montgomery County fell behind 62-54 at the 2:44 mark of the fourth quarter but Wilson powered the team back into it, getting help from Daquan Jackson who netted two late hoops. Robinson came away with a steal and a layup to cut the lead to 67-66 with 29.2 seconds left. Having to foul, the Eagles sent Raequan Smith and Brandon Mayes to the line, who went 4-for-4. With 10.7 seconds left, Coach Christopher Owens drew up a three-point look for Robinson, who struggled all night. The guard that averaged 19 points per game on the season, shot an air-ball, sealing the Eagles’ fate. Wilkinson County was paced by Jaylen Lamar’s efficient night, shooting 9-of-14 from the field for 22 points. Devin Jones chipped in 12 points and 4 assists in the win. Montgomery County out-shot the Warriors 72-to-50, but Wilkinson County sank 50% of their shots while Montgomery connected at a 36.1% clip and just 3-of-18 from three.

March 8 – Macon Centreplex

Class AAA

Johnson Atomsmashers girls basketball

(GR3 #2 Johnson-Savannah 62, R7 #1 GAC 50: The Atomsmashers atoned for last year’s state title game flop by locking down the paint and shutting down a potent GAC offense with three D-I commits. 6-foot-5 senior Giana Copeland swatted 7 shots in the first 6-plus minutes of the game and finished with 3 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks total.  GAC shot 1-of-15 in the first quarter and just 22.1% for the entire game.  Down 52-39 in the fourth quarter with 2:27 left, the Spartans finally made their move, sparking a 9-1 run to close to within 53-48 with 1:27 left. But from that point on, Bubbles Williams, J’Mya Cutter and Jasmine Thompson combined to go 9-of-10 from the line to ice it. Cutter finished with 19 points and 6 rebounds while Thompson added 13 points and 8 rebounds. Williams finished her career with 12 points and 4 assists. Caria Reynolds (Hofstra) led GAC with 13 points and 11 rebounds on 3-of-15 shooting. Taylor Sutton (MTSU) scored 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting and Wofford-bound forward Mary Martha Turner had 6 points and 18 rebounds. Kennedi Williams gave the Spartans a spark at guard with 10 points and 7 assists.

Greater Atlanta Christian basketball

(B) R7 #1 GAC 67, R3 #2 Jenkins 53: The Spartans turned a 25-20 halftime deficit into a state title under alumnus David Eaton. Ben Sheppard keyed a 24-point third quarter by sinking two of the Spartans’ four trifectas in the frame. Sheppard scored 8 of his 15 points in the quarter as the Spartans edged ahead with a 44-38 lead and would never trail again, bouncing back from a 15-1 run that gave Jenkins the lead at the half. Hunter McIntosh iced the game from the line in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 of his game-high 19 points in the final eight minutes including finishing 14-of-19 from the stripe. Michigan football-commit Chris Hinton piled in 12 of his 16 points in the second half and collected 4 rebounds and 4 assists in the process. Roy Dixon scored 13 points to help the cause. Jenkins was led by Sai Fisher’s 12 points and Mye’on Williams’ 11 points and 6 rebounds. Matthew Sams netted 10.


Buford Lady Wolves basketball

(G) R8 #1 Buford 60, R8 #2 Flowery Branch 49: Buford defeated Flowery Branch for the fourth time this season and seventh in the past two years as the Lady Wolves repeated as state champs and won their sixth title in school-history. Buford held Flowery Branch under the magic number of 50 — all three of the Wolves’ losses this season coming when they allowed over the half century mark. Michigan State-signee Tory Ozment poured in 15 of her game-high 28 points in the first half to go along with her 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Ebony Grant added 12 points. Flowery Branch was paced Alabama-signee Taniyah Worth who finished her career with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists before fouling out with 1:11 remaining down 60-48.  Caroline Wysocki struggled from the field going 1-of-7 to finish with 10 points.

Warner Robins Demons basketball

(B) R1 #1 Warner Robins 67, R5 #3 Miller Grove 64: In a tug-of-war game to finish a less than competitive week back at the Macon Centreplex, Jacolbey Owens drilled a three with 1.3 seconds left to give Warner Robins their first-ever state championship. Miller Grove got off to a hot start, up 15-6 in the first quarter behind eight quick Lorenzo Anderson points. At the end of one, the Wolverines held a 15-10 lead and kept Georgia State-commit Nelson Phillips scoreless. Phillips scored his first basket at the 5:31 mark with the Demons down 19-14 in the second quarter. At the half, Miller Grove maintained a slim 31-29 lead. While Phillips was 3-of-8 from the field, Jacolbey Owens led the charge with nine points but shot just 3-of-7 from the line. In the third quarter, Phillips flew in from the left baseline corner to throw down a one-handed put-back jam to push the Demon lead to 39-35. A Jaydon Norman layup capped a 12-2 run for Warner Robins, giving them a 43-35 lead at the 2:44 mark. The Demons carried a 51-44 advantage into the final frame, but Miller Grove would not go away. After a quiet third quarter, Anderson scored 8 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth. With 2:33 left on the clock, the Wolverines caught up to the Demons at 60-60. Owens was sent to the line where he was 3-of-10 at the time and as a team, Warner Robins was 18-of-32 at that point. Owens sank both free throws and did the same at the 1:54 mark to make it 64-60. The Demons finished 22-of-36 from the line (61.1%) while the Wolverines didn’t fare much better at 66.7% (16-of-24). Down four, Anderson got to the line and converted both attempts. Less than a minute late, Maurice Harvey, who finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals, did the same, knotting the game up at 64 with 51 seconds remaining. The Demons held for one shot. Instead of getting the ball in the hands of star Nelson Phillips, who finished 6-of-15 for 16 points and 10 rebounds, Coach Jamaal Garman saw Owens control their destiny. Owens went to his left, pump faked, and sailed a three over the outstretched arm of TJ Stargell, drilling it — Warner Robins’ only made three of the game (1-for-11) — sending the crowd into a frenzy. Warner Robins went out to celebrate, but the Wolverines got a second chance at life, as the referees added 1.3 seconds back on the clock. Miller Grove’s final inbound heave was fumbled away, giving the Demons a state championship just 21 miles away from home. Owens finished with 24 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Jaydon Norman added 13 points and 5 rebounds. The Demons collected 18 points off turnovers and out-rebounded the larger Wolverines 43-to-36, grabbing 22 offensive rebounds. Miller Grove received 11 points from Terrence Edwards and 7 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists from TJ Stargell.

March 9 – McCamish Pavilion

Class A-Private

Wesleyan Lady Wolves basketball

(G#6 Wesleyan 61, #1 Holy Innocents’ 44  After beating the Wolves three times in the regular season, Holy Innocents’ kryptonite rared its ugly head again on the biggest stage. After blowing a 17-point lead last year in the title game, this time the Golden Bears trailed through out and lost to Wesleyan for the third time in the past four state championships. The Wolves’ repeat was led by Furman-signee Sutton West’s 17 points and 8 rebounds. AC Carter had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Old Dominion-signee Amaya Register scored 12 points and freshman Paige Lyons added 10 points and 6 rebounds. UGA-signee Kaila Hubbard finished her Holy Innocents’ career with 18 points and 4 rebounds.  Jada Farrell  had 13 points and 9 rebounds while freshman Jillian Hollingshead tallied 5 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks. Kennedy Suttle, a Penn-signee that had 16 points and 13 rebounds in last year’s final, was held to 4 points and 7 rebounds. As a team, the Golden Bears shot a woeful 27.1% from the field.

(B) #6 Aquinas 65, #4 St. Francis 60: St. Francis missed three three-pointers in the final 33 seconds as Aquinas won their first-ever state title. The Knights led 33-26 at the half, weathering a 12-to-4 foul count and a 13-of-15 free throw shooting effort, but in the third quarter, the game came to a screeching halt. The Irish outscored St. Francis 25-to-9 in the third as both Tre Gomillion and Trent Bowdre scored 8 apiece in the quarter. As a team, the Irish connected on 10-of-12 field goals in the third after shooting 6-of-19 in the first half. Aquinas controlled a 51-42 lead heading into the fourth. Dwon Odom scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the quarter. At the 6:47 mark of the fourth quarter, the Irish held a 55-48 lead. The Knights fought back and cut the deficit to 61-60 after Odom collected a steal and drained a three-pointer in transition with 48.7 remaining. The Knights had Daniel Parrish trapped in the corner on the press, but were called for a foul that sent the South Carolina move-in to the line. Parrish missed the front-end of the one-and-one, giving the Knights one last look with 8.9 seconds showing on the clock. Coach Drew Catlett designed a misdirection play that found CJ Riley open in the corner for a good look, but his three-pointer was off and Parrish secured the rebound, knocked down both free throws and clinched the title. As a team, the Irish went 24-of-27 from the line. St. Francis opened up 15-7 in the first quarter going 4-of-9 from deep, but finished just 6-of-26 for the game. Gomillion led Aquinas with 16 points and 14 rebounds after having just four points at the half. Dajuan Hill added 15 points and 5 rebounds while Parrish (14) and Bowdre (10) each hit double figures. Riley finished with 18 points and 4 assists for the Knights. Chase Ellis was quiet with 10 points.


Lovejoy Lady Wildcats basketball

(G) R4 #1 Lovejoy 57, R6 #1 Harrison 41: Lovejoy used a 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lady Hoyas 23-to-5 to gain control and win their first-ever state title. After being held to 1-point in the first half, Genesis Bryant scored nine in the third quarter to spark the Wildcats, but Lovejoy still trailed 36-34. In the fourth quarter, it was fellow sophomore Anaya Boyd’s turn to carry the load. Boyd finished with 20 points and 5 rebounds, scoring nine in the fourth quarter. Bryant finished with 14 points. Avanna Preston scored 8 points while Kayla Brown collected 8 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Wildcats cut down on their turnovers after committing 12 in the first half and finished with 16 on the night. Harrison turned it over 17 times, seven times in the second half. The Lady Hoyas were led by GCSU-signee Harper Vick’s 10 points and 4 assists. Sarah Woghiren had 8 points and 7 rebounds. Eastyn King and Amara Newsom each had 6 points. UAB-signee Audrey Jordan fouled out and was held to just three shot attempts, finishing with 4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

Langston Hughes Panthers Basketball

(B) R5 #1 Langston Hughes 85, R8 #1 Gainesville 78: In front of alumnus Deshaun Watson, Gainesville led by as many as 14 points at 42-28 at the 2:05 mark of the second quarter and carried a 45-38 lead into the half, but the Panthers of Langston Hughes would not be denied, as Coach Rory Welsh and company repeated as state champs. Saddled with foul trouble the entire game, the Red Elephants were able to control the tempo and slice up the Panthers defense in the first half. Kajuan Hale scored 13 of his 15 points in the half while Gainesville made Virginia Tech-signee Landers Nolley work for everything he got, scoring 16 points but also facilitating with five assists. Down seven points, Langston Hughes needed players other than Nolley to step up. Tyrel Morgan scored eight of his 14 points in the first half to provide support, but Tyler Smith was quiet with just three points and two rebounds.  Following a dormant opening 16 minutes, Smith brought a spark, scoring eight points in the third as the Panthers surged past Gainesville to take a 65-59 lead into the fourth. Gainesville’s final lead of the game came at the 2:16 mark of the third quarter up 57-56.  Middle Tennessee State-signee KJ Buffen scored all 13 of his points in the first half but sat in the second with foul trouble, only managing to take two shots in the second half. Not tested since their 83-81 comeback win at Buford on January 20, the Red Elephants faced adversity for the first time in a long time.  At the 1:47 mark of the fourth, Langston Hughes captured their largest lead of the game at 78-67 after a Tyler Smith And-1 and a technical foul on Brent Kelly that gave Nolley a pair of freebies. Instead of rolling over, the Red Elephants fought back in Coach Benjie Wood’s final game on the Gainesville sidelines. Bailey Minor completed a 4-point play, Hale split a pair of free throws and Rafael Rubel finished a layup to make it 78-74 with 1:13 remaining in the blink of an eye. Rubel would then add a three to make it 80-77 with 48 seconds to play, but that would be as close as the Red Elephants would get as Langston Hughes went 8-of-9 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Nolley finished his illustrious career with three state titles — two in Georgia and three in a row including a sophomore championship campaign at Curie, IL. The future Hokie poured in 34 points (17-of-20 FT), 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Smith added 17 points. Gainesville was led by Minor’s 17 points. Rubel chipped in 12 points.

March 10 – McCamish Pavilion

Class AAAA

Spalding Lady Jaguars basketball

(GR2 #1 Spalding 58, R4 #1 Henry County 46: Sophomore forward Corriana Evans exploded for 19 points and 17 rebounds as the Jaguars raced past Henry County. Kirah Milner scored 9 points and Kiana Banks added 8 points and 9 rebounds. In the loss, Auburn-signee Brooke Moore had 21 points. Amaiya Jackson tallied 10 points and 8 rebounds. As a team, the War Hawks shot 6-of-29 from deep and 26.8% overall.

Upson-Lee basketball

B) R2 #1 Upson-Lee 70, R8 #1 St. Pius X 54: 63-straight. The Knights repeated as state champions, racing past the Golden Lions in the second half after trailing 33-32 at the break. With JaCorey Smith suspended, junior guard Jarrett Adderton stepped up. In his first showdown with the Golden Lions after transferring in from Florida in the off-season, the 6-foot-2 sparkplug provided the Knights with 16 points (7-11 FG) — 10 in the first half — 5 rebounds and 5 assists. St. Pius held their largest lead of the night at 33-25 after back-to-back Everett Lane threes with 1:04 left in the second quarter, but the Knights closed on a 7-0 run, capped by an Adderton block which led to a Tye Fagan layup with two seconds left. The Golden Lions drilled 5-of-14 threes in the first half and got eight points from Troy Stephens. But in the second half, the Knights slammed the door shut, St. Pius going 1-of-9. With the deep ball not dropping, the Golden Lions still harassed the Knights and trailed 44-40 with 1:19 left in the third before a Fagan layup and an Adderton jumper pushed the lead to 48-42 heading into the final quarter. In the fourth, the Knights ran wild as the Golden Lions’ tank was on E. A 14-2 run saw contributions from everyone, growing the lead to 64-47 with 2:49 showing on the clock. Fagan, a MTSU-commit, finished his high school career with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. Travon Walker helped the Knights dominate the paint for a second-consecutive time against the Lions, collecting 11 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks as the Knights out-rebounded St. Pius 43-to-28, blocked 11 shots and outscored St. Pius 40-28 in the paint. Zyrice Scott netted 14 points to go with his 4 rebounds and 5 assists. The X-factor in last year’s game, Everett Lane, finished with 11 points to pace the Golden Lions. Cameron Traylor drew the defensive duties and helped keep Lane in check as he took his first shot attempt at the 6:46 mark of the second quarter. Matt Gonzalo had 8 points and 4 assists while Zach Ranson added 9 points. The Golden Lions scored 19 points off 18 Upson-Lee turnovers. The Knights now await a call from the GEICO Nationals.


Westlake Lady Lions basketball

(GR2 #1 Westlake 60, R8 #1 Newton 45: Westlake led 39-32 at the end of three and pulled away late to claim their first state title. Anastasia Warren poured in 22 points while freshman Raven Johnson had 15 points and 11 rebounds including grabbing her own missed free throw and finishing a bucket inside to put the game out of reach at 50-41 with 1:13 remaining. Taylor Hosendove added 10 points and 6 rebounds. Newton was powered by Jurnee Smith’s 25 points and 6 rebounds. Lexii Chatman added 13 points and 7 rebounds.

Meadowcreek Mustangs basketball

(B) R7 #2 Meadowcreek 56, R7 #1 Norcross 43: For a second straight season, Norcross entered the state title game with momentum and labeled a slight favorite, but again it wasn’t in the cards. After beating Meadowcreek  three times this season, twice on buzzer-beaters, the Blue Devil magic ran out as the Mustangs used a 13-1 run to open the fourth quarter and squeeze Norcross into submission, capturing their first-ever state championship. Dequarius Nicholas scored 10 of his game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, going 5-of-6 from the foul line. Brandon Boston fouled out at the 6:10 mark with Meadowcreek up 38-37. With Boston’s 13 points on the bench, the Mustangs outscored Norcross 18-6 the rest of the way. Kyle Sturdivant finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds, but his late-game heroics never came into play. Meadowcreek pounded the interior all night, outscoring the Blue Devils in the paint 30-to-16. Duquesne-signee Amari Kelly posted 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks while Detroit-signee Cory Hightower put up 6 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Meadowcreek closed out the game with a bang at the 1:55 mark as freshman Kedrick Green delivered a behind-the-back pass to Jamir Chaplin for a big slam to make it 46-37.

Chaplin finished with 13 points and 5 rebounds while Green added 5 points. Meadowcreek tallied 12 assists on the night compared to just two for the Blue Devils. As a team, Norcross was held to 31% shooting. UGA-signee JoJo Toppin had 8 points and 7 rebounds while Issa Muhammad managed 4 points and 4 rebounds. Norcross shot 1-of-14 from three.

SSA Fall League Week 4 Recap

Parkview 53, Holy Innocents’ 47 OT

Sophomore Ahmir Langlais readies for battle with senior Richard Surdykowski
Sophomore Ahmir Langlais readies for battle with senior Richard Surdykowski

Without Jules Erving (HIES) and Jack Lapenta (Parkview) in attendance, two of the league’s undefeated teams set the stage for an evenly matched battle. Parkview boasted youth while Holy Innocents’ leaned on its veteran core. In the end, it was Parkview who scored an impressive win.

Holy Innocents’ held an early 11-4 advantage in the first quarter thanks to a hot start out of senior guard Cole Smith, but Parkview closed with an 8-0 run to take a 12-11 lead after one, the Panthers guards aggressively defending right at half court, taking the Golden Bears out of their early rhythm. Young gems Toneari Lane and Ahmir Langlais paced Parkview to start, both dropping in four points apiece.

In the second quarter Holy Innocents’ gained control with an 11-0 run to take a 22-14 lead. The Bears received major contributions from role players Robert McGovern and Todd Ennis. McGovern, a senior guard, finished the day with a game-high 14 points and chipped in five rebounds while Ennis, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, added eight points and six rebounds, both players knocking in a pair of threes.

It looked like the Bears were going to enter the second half with a comfortable lead, but Parkview’s Cam Chavers got hot from deep. The 5-foot-11 guard drained two late threes and helped draw the Panthers to within 27-24 at the half.

At the end of three, Holy Innocents’ maintained a slim 33-29 advantage.

In the fourth quarter Truitt Spencer gave the Panthers a spark, scoring his only two buckets of the game. Richard Surdykowski fouled out for the Golden Bears at the 5:07 mark with the game tied at 38, which hurt Holy Innocents’ interior defense down the stretch. With 55 seconds remaining, Smith hit a pull up jumper from the right elbow to edge Holy Innocents’ ahead 42-40. The ensuing possession, Justin Spencer attacked the rim and earned a one-for-two free throw attempt which he sank to knot the game up at 42 with 24.7 seconds left.

Holy Innocents’ attempted to hold for one shot, but pressure caused Smith to turn the ball over with 5.8 seconds left.

Parkview had two opportunities to get up a last shot, but botched both attempts sending the game to overtime.

In overtime Chavers knocked down his third three of the game and Jamiel Wright added a bucket to take a quick 47-44 lead. Chavers finished with 11 points while Wright, a crafty sophomore, totaled nine points and a game-high four assists. Lane put the finishing touches on the win with two hoops inside as the Panthers earned a hard fought 53-47 decision.

Toneari Lane and Ahmir Langlais caused problems for Holy Innocents’, the freshman and just recently turned 15-year-old sophomore proving why colleges are already starting to offer. Lane, a 6-foot-5 lefty, scored a team-high 12 points and collected four rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks. Lane doesn’t play like a freshman and fits in with the Panthers nicely, his versatile skill set allowing him to play all over the floor.

Langlais, fresh off offers from Middle Tennessee State and North Florida, added nine points, six rebounds, one assist, two steals and four blocks. The lean 6-foot-7 post had a nice battle inside with veteran 6-foot-7 center Richard Surdykowski. Langlais showed polish with ball fakes around the rim and got a hand on loose balls coming off the glass thanks to his length.

Langlais just recently celebrated his 15th birthday and should be a freshman instead of a sophomore, which means there is even more to like about his development. Surdykowski and others at times frustrated Langlais with physical play, but Ahmir was effective nonetheless. Once he starts to grow into his body and add weight, there is a ton of potential. Next week Langlais tussles with the strongest big man in the league, 6-foot-8 senior Mohammed Abubukar, which will be a great test.

Aside from Parkview’s two young standouts, Jamiel Wright and Cam Chavers also looked good. Chavers hit timely shots while Wright was a pest defensively and got people involved on offense while choosing his spots to attack the basket. Brandon Harvey, Truitt Spencer and Justin Spencer all provided active hands and feet on defense and slowed down Holy Innocents’ on the perimeter.

6-foot-2 senior guard Cole Smith finished with nine points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal for Holy Innocents’. Parkview did a nice job of not letting the lethal three-point shooter get any looks, but Smith still was able to affect the game with his passing and ability to make the right decision when faced with pressure.

I was most impressed with Holy Innocents’ role players who stepped up in the absence of Jules Erving. Junior guard Matt Meadows, Todd Ennis and Robert McGovern all played within themselves. Meadows finished with six points, two rebounds and two assists. Meadows looked steady at point guard as Ibrahim Shabazz, the Bears’ usual starter, was also out.


Eagle’s Landing 43, Alexander 38

Big men Damion Howell & Mohammed Abubukar keyed their teams' play
Big men Damion Howell & Mohammed Abubukar keyed the action inside

Alexander jumped out to an 11-9 lead at the end of the first quarter paced by three three-pointers, two from 6-foot-3 junior Grant Howard. Newly offered by Kennesaw State guard Brandon Thomas carried the Eagles early with five of his seven points in the first quarter.

After a scoreless first quarter, 6-foot-8 senior Mohammed Abubukar began to wear down the Cougars. The big man sank a corner three to give the Eagles a seven point lead, but Alexander would close the gap with another Howard three and enter halftime trailing Eagle’s Landing 18-16 in a low scoring game.

In the second half, Abubukar continued to do damage. He helped the Eagles to a 31-24 lead after three but as he pounded away inside, 6-foot-7 senior Damion Howell did the same for the Cougars. Howell scored all eight of his points in the second half. Methodical in the way he gathers himself, Howell likes to face the basket with his drop step, create contact in the defender’s chest with the ball and then either draw the foul or finish atop him. He can be a load to handle, but dig downs from guards can bother him.

In the fourth quarter, Abubukar, who listed North Carolina A&T, Elon and South Carolina State as colleges showing the most interest in him, earned back-to-back And-1’s in the paint to make it 37-28. He finished with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Alexander rebounded from Abubukar however and used their quickness to clamp down on defense and create scoring opportunities. Senior guard Ron Gibson scored his lone two hoops in the fourth quarter during the Cougars’ 10-2 run to draw within 39-38 with 1:21 left to play on Rod Rapley’s lay-in, the senior scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds on the day.

Rapley’s hoop would be the last Alexander bucket of the game however as sophomore point guard Rashad Elloie would pick up four points from the line to close out the game 43-38, Elloie finishing with eight points and four rebounds.

Eagle’s Landing hurt Alexander on the glass outrebounding them 34-18. The Eagles were in control for most of the game before Alexander’s pressure defense tightened the screws in the fourth quarter. Grant Howard hit three threes for the Cougars, but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter finishing with nine points and three assists. Sophomore big man Brady Spence, all 6-foot-7 arms and legs of him, gave the Cougs a nice spark in the fourth quarter during their run, scoring inside off some nice footwork and then blocking a shot.

Mohammed Abubukar is a name to get familiar with in the GHSA
Mohammed Abubukar is a name to get familiar with in the GHSA

Rashad Elloie’s cool free throw shooting and Mohammed Abubukar were too much down the stretch. Abubukar doesn’t wow you with high flying athleticism, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he plays below the rim. His footwork on the low block and his strength are what butter his bread. He even showed off a three-point touch and once again showed confidence in his ability to catch at the elbow, turn and face and attack the basket successfully. This Under the Radar Senior will make a nice addition to a college frontline.

St. Francis 59, Marist 46

Senior point guard Wallace Tucker poured in 16 points while 6-foot-3 freshman Chase Ellis dropped 18 to lead St. Francis over Marist. The War Eagles were led by senior Whid Childs who hit four threes for 12 points and 6-foot-5 junior Jake Mauldin who added 12 points and drained two deep balls.

SSA Fall League Week 2 Recap

Up until the regular season starts, Suwanee Sports Academy is home of the High School Fall League spanning from Week 1 (Aug. 20) to Week 8 (Oct. 15). 16 varsity teams take to the court along with two AAU programs, creating a competitive atmosphere. A handful of teams are in early contention to crack the Top 10 in their respective classifications for the 2016-17 season, making the SSA Fall League an intriguing stop during the dog days of summer.

Parkview 59, Alexander 49


Two teams with high expectations that could really sneak up on the state met in Week 2. The Panthers were without 6-foot-7 sophomore Ahmir Langlais and 6-foot-5 freshman Toneari Lane who were both at North Florida Elite Camp where they picked up scholarship offers. Even without two of their brightest young talents, the Panthers still managed to lead coast-to-coast and knock off the Cougars.

Parkview entered the fourth quarter up 11 before Alexander’s Damion Howell began to hurt Parkview’s smaller interior, the beefy 6-foot-7 big man collecting six of his eight points in the quarter. The Cougars clawed to within four before Parkview leaned on last year’s leading scorer, junior Cam Chavers to carry them to the finish line. Chavers netted six of his team-high 14 points in the final frame. The Panthers’ backcourt harassed the Cougars into turnovers which led to easy hoops. (Jr.) Justin Spencer scored 13 points followed by (Jr.) Myles Joseph and (So.) Jamiel Wright scoring 11 apiece. As a team, Parkview knocked down nine threes, which should stretch defenses out to allow Langlais space to maneuver inside this upcoming season.

Alexander showed flashes of being a dangerous team in Class AAAAAA with their lineup of (Jr.) Grant Howard, (Sr.) Rod Rapley, (Sr.) Zeek Copeland and sophomore Cameron Armstrong surrounding senior Damion Howell inside. Howard provided the most consistent outside shooting, able to pull up off the dribble and drain from deep. He hit four three-pointers en route to a game-high 16 points. Rapley added nine points and Howell, eight. The Cougars’ aggressive guard play will be at its best when configured into Coach Jason Slate’s system.

St. Francis 49, Grayson 45


Junior Travis Anderson caught fire in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points and rallying the Rams to a 40-39 lead after trailing 39-32 to enter the final period. The game was tied at 45 with 1:59 left, both teams matching baskets. A silly late foul with 14 seconds remaining put St. Francis senior guard Wallace Tucker at the line. Tucker, who scored a game-high 18 points, sank the two-for-one free throw to give the Knights a two point lead. Anderson had one last chance to either tie or win the game, but the ball slipped out of his hands and a thunderous dunk by Dwon Odom sealed the deal.

Plenty of new faces will be front and center for St. Francis this year. None will be more heavily tracked than freshman guard Dwon Odom. The 6-foot-2 mega-athlete made his presence felt during the travel circuit and enters high school ball as a ballyhooed prospect. Odom stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, six rebounds, one assist, five steals and three blocks. As elite an athlete as the youngster is, he must craft his shot over the next four years. All 10 of his points came on fast breaks; three of them dunks. Once he gains more confidence in his jumper Odom has a chance to be a very special player.

Now asked to be the leader, veteran Wallace Tucker played the best game I’ve seen him put forth. He did a number on the physically smaller Grayson guards and cleaned up when sent to the foul line, scoring eight points via the charity stripe.

For Grayson, Anderson really turned it on when the game got competitive in the fourth quarter. Incoming freshman Deivon Smith didn’t play a whole lot. The little guard is crafty and has a nice future ahead of him. He hit a game-winner at the buzzer to beat Odom’s Atlanta Celtics earlier in the offseason, giving the two guards a little history. It was a downer not being able to see each other matchup more.

Outside of Anderson, 6-foot-4 senior post Kyle Butts impressed. He is a strong rebounder that gives Coach Geoffrey Pierce a lot of effort inside. He finished with six points and 10 rebounds. Another senior, Aaron Rowe, brings some depth to the wing after moving in from Parkview. He had five points and five rebounds. Terrell Greene scored six points from the perimeter to go with his two steals. The Rams were missing starting center, 6-foot-6 Kenyon Jackson inside who is currently in football season.

Eagle’s Landing 56, Georgia Elite Ballers 53


A pair of transfers helped the Eagles over a talented AAU team. 6-foot-8 senior Mohammed Abubakar led the way with 13 points. The big man from Hamilton Heights, TN was aggressive, getting the ball and attacking the rim from the high post. He even knocked down a three. Junior sweet shooter Brandon Thomas moved in from Locust Grove to hit three threes for nine points. Lengthy sophomore CJ Hood pitched in 12 points and was active on defense and the glass rebounding the ball.

Holy Innocents’ 66, Marist 54

The big three of seniors Jules Erving, Cole Smith and Richard Surdykowski overwhelmed Marist. Erving poured in 22 points followed by Smith’s 14 and Surdykowski’s seven points. Marist received 17 points from senior David Sever.

East Jackson 51, Prince Avenue Christian 42

Junior guard Kobe Haley powered East Jackson with 21 points. Prince Avenue was led by senior guard Sam Todd’s 11 points and junior forward Dalton Meeler’s 10 points.

Alexander 49, Flowery Branch 45

Behind guards Justin Quick and John Mills, the Falcons pushed the Cougars to the brink. Quick, a junior, led all scorers with 16 points. Senior Dalton Gerdts buried three threes and finished with 11 points but missed on a game-tying three at the buzzer. Mills, a senior, added 12 points while fellow starting senior guard Brannon Clark was not in attendance. Once again, Grant Howard supplied the offense for Alexander with 11 points. Zeek Copeland and Rod Rapley both went for seven points.

Johnson-Gainesville 55, Forsyth Central 49 OT


The Knights rallied from down double digits to force overtime where they surged past the Bulldogs. Senior forward Dwayne Wilson posted a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Freshman and Senior Duo Carries Shorthanded No. 6 Spartans

No. 6 GAC 75, No. 5 Holy Innocents’ 67 OT

The power struggle for control of Region 6-AA officially began Thursday night as No. 6 GAC (4-3) found a way to knock off host No. 5 Holy Innocents’ (3-2) in overtime, 75-67. The Spartans entered the game on a two-game losing streak, but more importantly, without leading scorer, junior point guard Brian Coffey Jr. and 6-foot-8 center, Charlie O’Briant. With two big pieces out, Garrett Covington and Jacob Hoffman were expected to shoulder the load, but it was a level-headed freshman that made possibly the biggest impact of the game.

To open up the night, both teams traded baskets with Hoffman knocking down a three. The senior would roll an ankle however, soon after and would gingerly walk off with the game tied at 7. While on the bench, Cole Smith of Holy Innocents’ caught fire. He scored nine of the Golden Bears’ 13 points in the first quarter and would score 19 of his game-high 29 points in the first half.

One of Cole Smith's five three-pointers on the night
One of Cole Smith’s five three-pointers on the night

Hoffman returned to action later in the first quarter and finished with eight points on the day. The Spartans trailed 13-11 at the end of one. With Holy Innocents’ committing six first quarter fouls, the Spartans seemed destined to live at the line in quarter two, but the Golden Bears didn’t pick up foul number seven until under two minutes to play in the half. GAC pushed ahead 24-19, but Holy Innocents’ used a 14-4 run capped by a Jules Erving putback dunk and a layup to enter the half leading 33-28.

With Coffey sidelined and Hoffman gimpy, someone needed to step up for the Spartans. That someone was freshman point guard Hunter McIntosh. The cool youngster scored half of GAC’s points in the first half with 14 and finished with a team-high 27.

Smith bombed his fifth three-pointer of the night with 46.3 seconds left in the third quarter to extend Holy Innocents’ lead to 48-41, and would take a six-point 50-44 lead into the final period of play…or so we thought.

The Spartans continued to chip away and stay within striking distance while the Golden Bears tried to push ahead with a student section dressed in tacky Christmas sweaters roaring them on. Coach David Eaton implemented a press at the 7:17 mark of the fourth quarter, trailing by four. While GAC was able to disrupt the Bears offense somewhat, Brent Duncan started to go to work inside. The high-flying big man scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half to try and stave off the Spartan charge, but it was not enough.

As GAC continued to inch closer and closer, the play on the court got wilder and wilder with more and more whistles. Just under the three minute mark, the craziness which got the Spartans officially back in the game and over the hump occurred. Big man Chris Hinton, all 6-foot-5, 240 pounds of him, drew an and-one bucket, but missed the free throw. His miss was kept alive by Covington, resulting in the ball bouncing back to Hinton who laid it in to make it a four-point possession and draw the Spartans within one at 60-59.

Garrett Covington was all over the court
Garrett Covington was all over the court

At the 2:05 mark, Duncan hit Harrison Cobb for a jumper to extend the lead to 62-59.

Covington would answer with a steal and a layup making it a one-point game again with 1:36 remaining. Jules Erving was fouled and sank two free throws to go up 64-61 with 48.5 seconds left in regulation.

Jules Erving impressed me again with his versatility
Jules Erving impressed me again with his versatility

Anthony Carter, who ended up with five points, eight rebounds, two assists and four steals, was fouled with 22.2 seconds left for GAC. Earlier, he had missed a pair of foul shots at the 3:26 mark trailing 58-55. Carter atoned for his misses. He sank his first free throw and missed his second, but for the second time in the fourth quarter, Garrett Covington crashed the offensive glass and batted the ball off the backboard. The ball landed in Carter’s hands, who was following his shot, and he was able to lay it in and tie the game with around 15 seconds to play.

Free throw rebounding was an issue down the stretch for HIES
Free throw rebounding was an issue down the stretch for HIES

Ibrahim Shabazz had a final look from the top of the key as the clock expired coming out of a timeout seen here, but the shot went awry. We were heading to overtime.

In overtime, it was all Spartans. Covington, who finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, drove the lane and kicked out a pass over his head that looked wild. That wild pass was right on the mark hitting Jacob Hoffman, who proceeded to bury the triple. Soon after, Covington drove again and found Basil Peterson for the jumper after Hinton spun baseline against Duncan and powered it up for two more on the previous possession. GAC’s quick 7-0 spurt in overtime proved to be the dagger as the Golden Bears wouldn’t threaten again, giving the shorthanded Spartans a huge 75-67 victory.

My Take: Thursday night basketball is something I can get used to. What a game this was; back and forth the whole way. Every time it looked like either team was going to pull away, the other would respond. To be honest, I had no idea who Hunter McIntosh was before tonight. Now I know. The freshman guard looked as calm and collected as it gets in a hostile environment as he had to take on the lead guard duties with Brian Coffey injured. When I found out he was a freshman, I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t making any crazy plays or flashy moves; he was just solid and knocked down every open shot he had. Garrett Covington showed why he is a Gwinnett Daily Post Super Six selection and did everything out there tonight. In overtime alone he had two assists and a handful of rebounds to close it out. Burly Chris Hinton grinded his way to eight big points and did a good job on Brent Duncan down low. Jacob Hoffman splashed home an early three, but after hurting his ankle, he wasn’t able to be as explosive. He gutted it out and played with a grimace on his face. His big three in overtime gave the Spartans the separation they needed. After the game, Hoffman was seen limping out of the locker room with his shoe off. Hopefully it’s not too serious.

This was my second time seeing Holy Innocents’ play. They have three players that can take over a game any given night as they all showed flashes. Cole Smith might as well be called the baby faced assassin. He doesn’t look like your prototypical go-to player, but his handles are tight and his stroke is as pure as it gets. Duncan had a slow first half but began to carve up GAC inside during the second half. Jules Erving once again impressed me. He scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds, collected seven assists, two steals, two blocks and guarded Covington during most of the night. Talk about a busy night. Harrison Cobb played well. He fouled out with 22.2 seconds left in regulation and his calming presence yet intense play was missed in overtime. He finished with eight points, five rebounds and three assists. It will be fun to watch these two teams duke it out again this year as they jockey for position atop Region 6.

Top Performers

Greater Atlanta Christian
Garrett Covington – 23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Hunter McIntosh – 27 points, 3 rebounds
Chris Hinton – 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks
Jacob Hoffman – 8 points
Anthony Carter – 5 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals

Holy Innocents’
Cole Smith – 29 points, 2 blocks
Jules Erving – 12 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Brent Duncan – 14 points, 4 rebounds
Harrison Cobb – 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

Primer: No. 6 GAC (3-3) at No. 5 Holy Innocents’ (3-1)

No. 6 GAC (3-3) at No. 5 Holy Innocents’ (3-1)

This Region 6-AA rivalry features two top ten teams. No. 6 Greater Atlanta Christian has shown flashes of being a region title contender, but a tough schedule and injuries have left the Spartans at 3-3 early in the season. GAC kicked off the year with a 73-61 win against 1A-Private No. 8 Lakeview Academy, 73-61. At the Verizon Hoops for the Cure Classic, Brewbaker Tech (AL) downed the Spartans 64-53. After a pair of wins, they ran into 5A No. 9 Riverwood in the North Forsyth Thanksgiving Tournament championship and lost 51-40. That same Riverwood team handed No. 5 Holy Innocents’ its only loss of the season on opening night, 54-46. GAC enters riding a two-game skid after taking a loss and some injuries to Seneca (SC) on Tuesday, 80-67.

Leading scorer, point guard Brian Coffey Jr. and starting center Charlie O’Briant are both expected to miss tonight’s game. O’Briant suffered a bad laceration to his lip when he took an inadvertent shoulder to the mouth, and Coffey, who has been on crutches the past two days, endured a deep bone bruise to his right knee and bruised a nerve which may keep him sidelined for up to a week. With the injuries, the onus to score will fall heavily on Garrett Covington and Jacob Hoffman’s shoulders. Both players are capable however as Covington averaged 16.5 points and Hoffman 12.1 as juniors. Covington is a Gwinnett Daily Post Super Six selection for the 2015-16 season.

GAC took two of three against the Golden Bears last season, winning 58-49, losing 82-78 and defeating Holy Innocents’ 73-68 in the region tournament.

The Golden Bears opened up their season with a loss against rival Riverwood. Since that game, Brent Duncan has picked up his play and is back to being a handful inside. In a 61-60 win over Duluth at Holiday Hoopsgiving, the 6-foot-7 forward went for 30 points and 10 rebounds including the game-winning free throw with .1 seconds remaining. He, Cole Smith, Ibrahim Shabazz and Jules Erving make up for a nice core, with Harrison Cobb and Richard Surdykowski doing the dirty work. Holy Innocents’ enters on a three-game win streak, defeating Sacred Heart (AL) 64-62 and No. 6 SWAC, 61-46, along the way.

Key Matchup: Jacob Hoffman of GAC and Cole Smith from Holy Innocents’ have the capability to match each other stroke for stroke from beyond the three-point line. Smith scored 13 points when I watched him play Riverwood and has the mentality of a microwave, able to heat up at the flick of a switch. Hoffman also doesn’t shy away from the long ball and has been known for his clutch sniping.

X-Factor: Jules Erving has been tasked with guarding other teams’ best players, getting the call on De’Andre Ballard of SWAC on Tuesday and held him to 17 points. If he gets lined up against Garrett Covington, he will be sure to make him work for every bucket. Erving’s athleticism and size allows him to guard multiple positions.