Tag Archives: Langston Hughes

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. Ansley 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.

Class AAAAA

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.

Class AAAAAA

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.

Class AAAAAAA

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.

No. 1 Langston Hughes holds off No. 4 Douglas County after losing Landers Nolley to ejection

Contributed by Rob Grubbs   (@RCGJr226070)

Sponsored by:   @sportalspace

No. 1 Langston Hughes 78, No. 4 Douglas County 67

On occasion, a big loss can do more good for a team than harm. Such was the case back on November 28, 2017 when the defending Class AAAAAA state champion Langston Hughes Panthers took the Douglas County Tigers to the woodshed in a 78-43 win on their home court in Fairburn. Since then, Douglas County has reeled of 10 consecutive wins, including the championship of the Tucker Christmas Shootout. Tiger Head Coach Hollis Bethea watched his team grow over the past month and the rematch with the Panthers on their court would be a good barometer of how far the No. 4 ranked team in AAAAAA had come.

Panther Head Coach Rory Welsh knows how to prepare his team for a championship run and has the hardware to prove it from last year’s championship. His team has only lost once since that late November blowout win over the Tigers. The fact the contest was a Region 5 game made it an even juicer matchup. In an evening that would see the Panthers (12-3) best player, Virginia Tech-signee Landers Nolley get ejected for bumping an official, Douglas County (11-3) seized the moment to tie the game only to see the Panthers steady themselves for a late 9-0 run that sealed the 78-67 win. It gave the Panthers a two-game lead over the Tigers in the region standings.

Langston Hughes opened the night in a tight man-to-man, in your face defense, but the Tigers would respond quickly. Guard Rickey Clark hit a jumper for the opening basket and forward Ernest Randle had a big blocked shot to jump out to an 8-5 lead. However, the one-time, brief UGA-commit Nolley scored his first points on a deep NBA distance three-pointer for the tie and then took over, hitting three more threes before the end of the first with the Panthers up 19-14.  Nolley also had a crowd shaking dunk in the first quarter when he stole an inbound pass on a full court press. Coach Welsh utilizes Nolley in the front of the press, his wingspan creates challenges for the offensive team and he got several steals as the game progressed.

Not to be outdone, Tiger Jeremiah Smith got a steal himself and created excitement for the home crowd with a dunk on the other end to start the second quarter. Midway through the second, the Tigers were down by five but Langston Hughes slowly began to expand their lead. With the Tiger defense focusing on Nolley, Tyrel Morgan and Josh Butts contributed to a 17-8 Panther run to close out the half with them up 40-26.

At this point, Coach Bethea began to see answers to how much his team had grown. Down 14, the Tigers could have cashed this one in, but they came back scrappy. Malik Battle hit a three to serve notice this was not the same team that lost by 35.  The game changed suddenly at the 4-minute mark. The Panthers had their largest lead at 15 when Ernest Randle hit a three for Douglas County. After a foul, there were words exchanged between Nolley and a game official which seemed to irritate Nolley, who attempted to walk away but slightly bumped the official as he passed. He was immediately ejected and in the aftermath, Douglas County was awarded six free throws. In a cruel twist of fate, all the free shots were missed, each one to the delight of the visiting Langston Hughes crowd, which were making themselves heard.

After a star player exits, both sides need to recalibrate their game. For Douglas County, the Panther press was not as intimidating without Nolley in the front, so maneuvering the inbound pass was less difficult and that created easier scoring opportunities.  The Tigers jumped at the opportunity and went on to outscore the Panthers 23-11 in the next eight minutes to tie the game up at 62.  A moment that stood out in the Tiger resurgence was a real-man offensive rebound by Clark and the put- back, he seemed to just will himself to the rebound and score.

For the Panthers, the opposite was in effect, their offense revolved around Nolley scoring or distributing from a double team and Coach Welsh suddenly needed someone to step up.  It was almost as if the tie game issued Langston Hughes a wakeup call as Papa Samba led the Panthers on a 11-0 run that would put the game away. Clark finally broke the run for the Tigers with an offensive rebound and put-back, but the damage had been done.  Panther Armani Bolston would hit five consecutive free throws down the stretch for the final 78-67 margin.

Afterwards Coach Welsh was proud of the way his team responded to adversity. “We needed someone to step up and we have a bench full of selfless guys, the ejection caught us off guard, but I am proud of how we responded and how we put them away at the end. This team is full of players who sat and watched last year’s championship run and now they are getting their chance. They are taking advantage of it.” When asked where this year’s team is compared to last year’s team in early January, he said, “we are a better defensive team this year, these guys have been waiting a long time to prove themselves, and now they are.”

The Panthers will have to regroup quickly as they will be without Nolley for the next two games based on GHSA rules. It will provide them more opportunity to jell as a team and development supplemental scoring opportunities. In the long run, it may make them better, which should be a scary proposition for the teams in AAAAAA. Douglas County has improved from earlier in the year and the results prove that. Coach Bethea has stated that he believes they still haven’t played their best basketball yet. While winning the regular season region crown has probably passed, the next potential game between the two teams in the region tournament could be very interesting indeed.

Rob’s Takeaways

  1. Langston Hughes will have to prepare to be without Landers Nolley for the next two games against New Manchester and Alexander because of the ejection.
  2. With Nolley at the point of the Langston Hughes press in the backcourt, he causes in-bounding issues that forced several turnovers for easy baskets.
  3. Langston Hughes should get used to the drive from Fairburn over to Douglasville as they play games there three times in five days.
  4. The Douglas County Gym is a first-class facility, with upper and lower seating, there are great site lines all across the building.
  5. Being in the Douglas County gym reminded me of one of my favorite basketball players of all time – Anthony Barge. A.B. was a high school All-American for the Tigers and a complete basketball player. One night, against top ranked Campbell-Fairburn, he dropped 56 points without the benefit of a three-point shot in an upset victory. He played at South Alabama and eventually West Georgia where he was a Division 2 All-American. Barge was tragically killed in a traffic accident in 2010.
  6. Panther Head Coach Rory Welsh said his coaching mentor was former Lovejoy Head Coach, Rick Francis. Welsh was an assistant on his staff before taking the Langston Hughes opportunity. Welsh has attention to detail, he went and personally thanked each cheerleader after the game for their contribution to the win.
  7. Douglas County is waiting on the return of 6-foot-5 post player Mataio Soli, who is nicked up with a football related injury. His presence underneath will add to an already solid lineup.
  8. Nolley is looking to win this third championship in a row, as a sophomore he won an Illinois State Championship at Curie High School in Chicago, then his family moved back to Fairburn and he led the Panthers on their championship run last year.

Top Performers

Langston Hughes
Landers Nolley – 24 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists
Tyler Smith – 15 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists
Patrick Carter – 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists

Douglas County
Rickey Clark – 17 points, 7 rebounds
Malik Battle – 16 points, 4 assists
Jeremiah Smith – 3 points, 10 rebounds

 

Javon Greene’s historic performance leaves Langston Hughes shell-shocked at Holiday Hoopsgiving

No. 5 Henry County 92, No. 4 Langston Hughes 89

In possibly the most improbable outcome in Holiday Hoopsgiving history, Class AAAA No. 5 Henry County rallied from down 47-31 at the half to stun Class AAAAAA No. 4 Langston Hughes in overtime without New Orleans signee Damion Rosser available.

Rosser, who injured himself in a scrimmage against Eagle’s Landing, was on crutches as he watched George Mason signee Javon Greene will the Warhawks to victory. Greene went berserk, scoring 57 points – 37 in the second half – to steal a victory in a game which they never led in regulation.

Langston Hughes rushed out to a 12-2 lead behind Southeast Missouri State signee Khalil Cuffee’s 10 first quarter points. The Panthers were on the verge of blowing the game open on multiple occasions throughout, but Greene always had an answer.

He stroked the first of his seven threes at the 4:20 mark, but the Warhawks still trailed 17-6.

Cuffee drained a buzzer beater to give Langston Hughes a 27-16 lead after one quarter of play.

 

In the second quarter, it was Northeastern signee Derrick Cook and Landers Nolley, fresh off a 50-point game, turn to pepper the shorthanded Warhawks. Nolley finished the first half with 13 points while Cook contributed 10.

Henry County cut the lead to 40-30, but Cuffee buried a three off the dribble and Cook sank two hoops including a layup at the buzzer to make it 47-31 at the half.

Nolley continued to sizzle in the third quarter, scoring 10 of his team-high 35 points in the frame as it looked like the Panthers were going to finally run away with the game.

Kovi Tate came away with a big slam but Langston Hughes still held a commanding 62-41 lead with 2:57 to play in the period.

Tate’s put back, just his third point of the game, proved to be a springboard as the Warhawks entered the fourth down 64-50 with a shimmer of hope.

While Greene kept Henry County in the game, he started to receive help from Tate and Sadonte Lindley. Lindley pitched in five of his 18 points in the fourth quarter while Tate began to dominate inside. The undersized 6-foot-5 post crept the Warhawks closer and closer as he cleaned up the glass on misses. He scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth and collected 11 rebounds.

At the 2:57 mark, Henry County found itself down just two points, 70-68 after Greene dropped in another tough bucket.

 Nolley answered with a three at the 2:08 mark but Greene responded with another triple, cutting the Panther lead to 73-71 with 1:16 remaining.

The Warhawks finally drew even on another Tate follow up slam with 47.3 seconds to go.

Nolley was stripped heading to the hoop, giving the ball back to Henry County with 3.6 seconds left. Greene’s halfcourt heave went amiss, sending the game to overtime tied at 75-75, Henry County outscoring Langston Hughes 25-11 in the fourth.

In overtime, Greene took it to another level.

On fire, unconscious, in a zone; whatever you want to call it, Greene was it. He torched the Panthers for 15 in overtime with an array of buckets and his floater with 3:35 gave Henry County their first lead of the entire game at 77-75. As good as Greene was, Langston Hughes still had a final look after a missed free throw. The Panthers raced down and Nolley got a fairly good look at the horn but his three rimmed out.

 

My Take 

There’s not many words that will do this game justice. Javon Greene was insane hitting seven threes and 18 free throws. I thought the game was going to be a rout with how well Langston Hughes came out behind their trio of D-I standouts. With Damion Rosser sitting on the bench injured, it looked like it was just going to be a “What-If” game. What if Rosser was healthy? I wonder if the game would have been closer? Greene didn’t give us that opportunity as he showed he was more than enough to carry the Warhawks in one of the gutsiest efforts you’ll ever see. Sadonte Lindley pitched in 18 points in quiet yet steady fashion, but Kovi Tate’s intensity was what really helped Henry County out. Nine points in the fourth quarter in loud fashion had to have helped Greene’s psyche as his Atlanta All-Stars teammate began to make a difference.

Even in the loss, Langston Hughes looked flat out scary. Landers Nolley, Khalil Cuffee and Derrick Cook combined for 80 points. Cuffee is an absolute steal at SE Missouri State. He is a big time guard with a great stroke. Nolley has high level college ball written all over him and Cook does a little bit of everything on the floor. They looked like a different team from the Gainesville game but ran into a buzzsaw with Greene. There wasn’t much Coach Rory Welsh could do to slow down Greene. The Panthers will just need to shake this one off and trust that they are as good as any team in the state when they are clicking on all cylinders and not playing against Javon Greene.

 

Top Performers

Henry County
Javon Greene – 57 points (7 threes, 18 FTs), 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Sadonte Lindley – 18 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
Kovi Tate – 12 points, 11 rebounds, 1 block

Langston Hughes
Landers Nolley – 35 points (6 threes), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Derrick Cook – 23 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal
Khalil Cuffee – 22 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals

12-8 Top Games Preview

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

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

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

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

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

Sequoyah Sweeps Preseason Tilt With Langston Hughes

5ASequoyah 78,  6ALangston Hughes 69

Two teams on the precipice of cracking the top ten in their respective classifications met in the War Lodge in a preseason scrimmage. Missed opportunities and runs were the story of the game. Coach Rory Welsh’s 94-feet of pressure defense had the Sequoyah Chiefs on their heels early on, as the Panthers jumped out to an 11-3 lead. Jordan Usher of Sequoyah started out slowly, but found his first points of the game at the 1:41 mark of the first quarter. From that point on, it was all Chiefs.

Sequoyah would go on a 21-2 run to open up a 28-17 advantage mid-way through the second quarter before Khalil Cuffee would quiet the storm and score 11 of his game-high 27 points in the first half. At the break Sequoyah led 36-30 thanks to big second quarters from Cameron Cox, who announced before tip-off he would play his college ball at Navy, and Usher. At the half Cox led all scorers with 13 points while Usher added 8.

Usher defending Cuffee as Coach Welsh looks on
Usher defending Cuffee as Coach Welsh looks on

After trading offensive fouls to start the second half, Cuffee canned three straight three-pointers to take a 39-38 lead. Hunter Gaddis of Sequoyah fought for an offensive rebound and scored a contested putback at the buzzer to give the home-standing Chiefs a 54-51 advantage heading into the decisive final quarter.

Free throws crushed the Panthers’ hopes of winning as Langston Hughes shot just 6-of-14 from the line in the fourth, featuring key misses from Cuffee and Derrick Cook, who combined to go 3-of-10. Sequoyah converted 12-of-17 free throws in the final frame to stem the tide and hold off the Panthers.

Free throws doomed the Panthers
Free throws doomed the Panthers

Turning Point: Langston Hughes fought back from a 66-57 deficit and had a chance to make it 66-63 with just over 2:30 remaining in regulation, but a blown opportunity at a point-blank look turned into a Chiefs fastbreak layup, making it 68-61 with 2:39 to play.

Highlight of the Night: Jordan Usher and Hunter Gaddis punched in back-to-back slams on the fastbreak to give Sequoyah a 64-56 advantage.

My Take: The guard play did not disappoint. Khalil Cuffee looked extremely smooth and should have Division-I colleges knocking at his door. Cameron Cox stole the show in what was an emotional night, committing to Navy. Cox, like Jordan Usher, rebounded from a slow start and scored his first points of the night on a baseline jam. Role players Levi Biddy and Hunter Gaddis get a lot of credit for the W. Derrick Cook did a little bit of everything for the Panthers. I think the early setback will be a good wakeup call for the Panthers as they enter a gauntlet of a regular season schedule. Coach Welsh’s team showed good discipline, they just could not convert from in close or at the line. Give credit to Sequoyah for not folding after a slow first few minutes and bouncing back to give the Panthers a punch in the mouth and take momentum.

Top Performers:

Sequoyah
Cameron Cox – 26 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals
Jordan Usher – 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Levi Biddy – 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
Hunter Gaddis – 10 points, 5 reboundsimage2

Langston Hughes
Khalil Cuffee – 27 points, 3 rebounds
Derrick Cook – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
Justin Jones – 13 points, 3 reboundsimage1 (3)

Girls

Sequoyah 61, Langston Hughes 43

Two crucial spurts put the Lady Panthers away. Sequoyah led 22-15 at the half and used a 22-to-8 run to gain a 44-23 advantage heading into the fourth. Langston Hughes fought back and cut the Lady Chiefs lead to 49-38 with 3:14 remaining, but a 9-0 run ballooned the lead to 58-38 with 48.8 seconds left ending the comeback bid. Kelley Hartman and the rest of the Sequoyah length hurt the Panthers inside, while Megan Garcia’s three-point shooting and super sophomore Alyssa Cagle’s all-around ball handling and shooting powered the She-Chiefs attack.