Tag Archives: Lithonia

Peach State Stops of the Week (1/1-1-6)

People always ask me, “What’s the best game in town this week?

Peach State Stops of the Week will highlight some of the best basketball being played in Georgia for the current week. Whether it’s a tournament/showcase, a region rivalry, a Top 10 showdown, or a seldom heard sleeper, Peach State Stops of the Week will let you know what gym you need to get into


No. 5 Northview at No. 6 Alpharetta [G]

The established Lady Titans (10-3) visit the upstart Lady Raiders (12-1) led by Mississippi Valley State-commit Sydnie Ward. The transfer from Tennessee averages over 17 points per game and has given Coach David Walden a major boost and has diversified the Raider offense, six players averaging over 5 points per game. Inside, the Maduka sisters GoGo and JuJu, will have to slow down No. 5 Northview’s Ashlee Austin and Maya Richards. Austin, 6-foot-2, is averaging over 19 points and 10 rebounds per game while Richards, 6-foot-1, averages a physical 8.4 points and 6.7 rebounds. Young guards Eden Sample and Asjah Inniss will be crucial for the Titans. Sample, a freshman, is averaging over 13 points per game while Innis, a sophomore, is producing close to 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Croix Bethune, Kendall Phillips, Jalyn Tillerson and Grace Knutsen will all be asked to attack Northview’s guards and get them in foul trouble. The winner will be in the driver’s seat in Region 7-AAAAAA.


No. 4 Lithonia at No. 6 Miller Grove

No. 4 Lithonia (14-3) has a golden opportunity to push themselves atop Region 5-AAAAA if they can go into the Purple Palace and knock off No. 6 Miller Grove (8-6). The Bulldogs will have to match Miller Grove’s size inside. Kevin Paige and Jermon Clark are imposing figures but junior Justin Myles is a 6-foot-7 shot-blocking ace that protects Lithonia’s rim. Senior Ziven Alexander has been aggressive attacking the hoop while Brison Rockcliffe and Eric Gaines round out a balanced attack. Maurice Harvey has paced the Wolverine offense with 16 points per game alongside Lorenzo Anderson who has taken on the role of scoring guard, averaging 14.4 points. TJ Stargell has orchestrated the offense and will have to deal with the defensive pressures of Sydarius Stinson and Tasim Sims.


No. 10 Cartersville at LaGrange

After a slow start to the season, the Grangers (10-4) have won 5-straight highlighted by a win over Class 5A No. 10 McIntosh 72-71 at the Toyota Classic. Senior guard Bo Russell has taken on the burden of scoring the ball with help from Jordan Ogletree and Daz Williams. Covan Huzzie is one of many Grangers that can stroke the three-ball. LaGrange will have a chance to earn their way into the Top 10 if they can defend homecourt against Region 5-AAAA rival No. 10 Cartersville (8-2). The Grangers swept Cartersville last year, but will have to deal with Furman-signee Jaylon Pugh yet again. The All-State guard is coming off an All-Tournament Team selection at the Lake City Classic where he poured in nine three-pointers en route to 38 points against Millbrook, NC. He is joined by TJ Horton and Perignon Dyer in the backcourt while Isaac Gridley is most productive in the paint. Expect Russell and Pugh to trade baskets all night.

No. 2 Lithonia clinches Region 6 title with win on Senior Night

No. 2 Lithonia 56, No. 3 St. Pius 48

It was Senior Night for the No. 2 Lithonia Bulldogs. Parents, friends, family, balloons and flowers filled the court after the girls game as all the senior basketball players and cheerleaders took to the court. It was an emotional night, but there was still work to be done. First-place in Region 6-AAAA was on the line, a region that boasts the top 2-4 ranked teams in the state. With both Lithonia (18-4, 15-1) and No. 3 St. Pius (18-4, 12-3) beating No. 4 Grady (19-3, 13-2) in their second meetings, the Bulldogs now had the inside track to winning the regular season title if they could stop St. Pius.

In a nip-and-tuck game which saw the largest lead of the first half come in the form of a 4-0 Golden Lions start, Lithonia used a big third quarter to take control and hold on for a 56-48 win, all but ensuring themselves the region title in the regular season and the No. 1 seed heading into the region tournament.

The first quarter ended knotted up at 14, but one Bulldog showed more bite than usual on the big stage. Rodney Chatman, a senior guard committed to UT-Chattanooga, hasn’t been known for his scoring, usually taking a backseat to the likes of Tyheem Freeman, Jacara Cross and Tyleen Patterson, instead working to get those teammates open looks. Friday night however, was Chatman’s time to shine.

Chatman scored nine points in the first eight minutes, but he was just getting started. Jakob Spitzer hammered in a dunk to give the Golden Lions a 14-11 lead, but Chatman drilled a three at the buzzer.

It took nearly four minutes for Lithonia to score its first points of the second quarter. Once the lid was off the basket, Freeman, who scored 16 points, hit Robert Hatchett in the corner for three to take a 20-17 lead. Forty seconds later, Kerney Lane found younger brother Everett for three to knot the game back up. Lithonia entered halftime up 24-22 with the game still in the balance.

It wasn’t for long.

Coach Wallace Corker’s Bulldogs opened the third on an 11-3 run sparked by Cross. The 6-foot-7 big man posted 18 points and 12 rebounds in their previous meeting, a 55-44 win over the Golden Lions, but through the first half on Friday, he was held scoreless with two fouls. Chatman got him going, like a good point would. He lobbed an alley-oop to Cross for his first points of the game and after a wild scramble on defense, the Bulldogs came up with the loose ball. The ball was pitched ahead to Freeman who attacked the basket and dumped the ball off behind him to a trailing Cross who collected it and flushed it home to take a 35-25 lead with 3:34 left in the third, causing Coach Aaron Parr to burn a timeout.

Twelve seconds later, Cross picked up his fourth foul when Everett Lane pump-faked him inside, sending him and momentum to the bench.

St. Pius chipped away at the lead and cut it to 35-28 after a Kerney Lane bucket, but Chatman answered yet again with a three-ball.

The Golden Lions split a pair of Spitzer free throws with 1.1 seconds left and sent themselves into the fourth quarter down 38-29.

The fourth quarter belonged to Kerney Lane as he tried to will his team back into the game. Lane scored three straight buckets for the Golden Lions, sparked by a rebound off a Spitzer missed free throw, powering the ball back up for two. With 6:03 left, St. Pius trailed 41-35. Lane scored nine of the Golden Lions’ first 10 points in the quarter, but Chatman and Freeman were too much.

Chatman scored eight of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter while Freeman netted six to his tally. Sam Petry came off the bench to hit three late three-pointers for St. Pius, but it was too little too late as the Bulldogs reigned supreme on Senior Night.

My Take: Lithonia is one of the best teams in the state, and I don’t think I’ve seen them play their best game yet. Rodney Chatman and Tyheem Freeman were sensational for Coach Corker. Chatman has played the role of distributor all season long, but showed he can fill it up when he goes in attack mode, finishing with 24 points, six rebounds and three assists. Freeman is a great running mate alongside Chatman. Jacara Cross is an immense talent inside, making things look easy at times, but he is too susceptible to foul trouble and can be taken out of his game. Lithonia has as good a chance as anyone to make a deep state playoff run and win the state title, but if they want to do that, Cross cannot pick up silly fouls and have to sit on the bench. Tyleen Patterson, Lithonia’s second option in the post, is a reliable scorer, but he picked up two dumb fouls as well that luckily didn’t cost Lithonia. Pushing a player after a Bulldog basket and then next trip down, grabbing a rebound and throwing a blatant elbow while carving out space. The little things like that might not hurt you in the regular season, but come playoff time it will be something that needs cleaned up.

St. Pius had one of its worst shooting nights of the year. The Golden Lions left 10 big points at the line, shooting just 9-of-19. Their defense was able to keep them in the game however. It was just one big 11-3 run for Lithonia in the third quarter that gave the Bulldogs enough cushion. Kerney Lane took over in the fourth quarter for the Golden Lions, but couldn’t find enough help as the Bulldogs’ physical defense made St. Pius work for every hoop. Without Sam Petry’s three late threes, the score would have been a lot worse. Outside of Petry’s shooting, the Golden Lions weren’t able to stretch out Lithonia’s defense, hitting just two three-pointers. In the first half, St. Pius proved they can play with anyone in the state and warrant the No. 3 spot in AAAA. It was a tough night to struggle from the field, but the Lions should get another crack at the Bulldogs when it matters the most, in the region tournament.

Top Performers

Rodney Chatman – 24 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Tyheem Freeman – 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Tyleen Patterson – 7 points, 5 rebounds
Jacara Cross – 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block

St. Pius
Kerney Lane – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks
Sam Petry – 9 points
Christian Merrill – 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals
Jakob Spitzer – 5 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block

Feature Photo By Mark Brock (DCSD)

4A: No. 5 Grady Knights Tame No. 1 Lithonia Bulldogs

No. 5 Grady 62, No. 1 Lithonia 52

Another stiff test vs. a ranked opponent, another win for the No. 5 Grady Knights. Coach Brian Weeden’s team made the trip to No. 1 Lithonia for a crucial Region 6-AAAA showdown between the top two teams in the standings.

The Bulldogs, with the size advantage inside between Tyleen Patterson and Jacara Cross, took a 15-11 lead into the second quarter behind seven first quarter points from Patterson,  who finished tied for a team-high with 15 points. Rodney Chatman and Tyheem Freeman were able to cut inside and find the big man who finished with ease with the smaller Grady players surrounding him.

Then something happened in the second quarter. That something was Christian Bryant. The switch turned on and the Knights led by Bryant began attacking the rim fearlessly. Bryant scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the second quarter and sank 8-of-10 free throws in the period. He finished 10-of-15 from the line and caused problems all game long for the Bulldogs.

Grady entered the half up 30-28 and kept the pressure on, this time behind Bucknell-commit Avi Toomer’s six points in the third. He finished with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block after scoring seven points in the first half. Chatham picked up his third foul with under five minutes to play and went to the bench with the Bulldogs trailing 37-32. Grady surged ahead on a mini 8-4 run to take a 45-36 lead into the fourth after Lithonia squandered a chance at a last second bucket. After a mad scramble, Patterson scooped the ball up with three seconds left and had a two-on-one fast break. Instead of dumping the ball off, he tried to go over his defender for an and-one, but instead was whistled for his fourth foul on a charge as the buzzer sounded.

To open the fourth quarter, Grady put the game away with an 8-0 run that gave the Knights their biggest lead of the game, 53-36 with five minutes remaining. Grady began to take some time off the clock by holding the ball and being patient on offense which prompted Coach Wallace Corker to extend his Bulldog defense.

The game was seemingly out of hand before the Bulldogs showed some bite. Behind a 12-4 run Lithonia clawed the game back within single digits at 57-48 with 1:28 left to play. Bryant missed a pair of free throws after being fouled and allowed Lithonia a chance to crawl even closer, but Toomer had other ideas in mind.

The senior came away with a huge steal and tossed the ball up ahead to Tykwaan Bryant who slammed it home to make it an 11-point game with 1:10 left and in the process, slammed the door shut on Lithonia.

Lithonia had chances to come back, but missed free throws haunted them. At one point they missed five consecutive foul shots. They finished 15-of-28 at the line which proved costly in the 10-point loss.

My Take: Grady has to be taken seriously as a dangerous threat to making a deep run in the state tournament. There is no true front runner aside from No. 2 Jonesboro, who is the two-time defending state champion, but the Cardinals have lost a lot of championship pieces. Grady gets after it with their lightning quick guard play. They like to play fast on offense when they want, streaking to the basket, or they can slow things up and make you get out and extend your defense, leaving open holes for the ball handler to slice into. When I opened with Grady in my top ten to begin the season after a 14-15 season a year ago, it may have been met with skepticism. I knew they would have good guard play with the addition of DJ Brittian from Miller Grove, but I had no idea that Christian Bryant would assert himself into the picture. Bryant flew under the radar as a transfer from Bowie High School in Maryland, but he no longer is a secret. He’s tenacious with the ball and loves to draw fouls on the perimeter. He is the perfect complement alongside Avi Toomer and Brittian and has taken the load off of Toomer’s shoulders more so than anyone could have expected.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the play of an unsung hero: Kemari Averett. The 6-foot-7 post player is more known for his skills on the gridiron as a tight end and defensive end, but his size came in handy tonight. He chipped in seven points and four rebounds off the bench and gave the Knights a spark inside.

To sum things up in how Grady won, they just made Lithonia look slow. Tyleen Patterson, Tyheem Freeman and Jacara Cross all had nice games, but none of them stood out and took the game over. Cross looked like he was able to score at-will inside, Patterson at times too, but the Bulldogs were unable to feed them the ball consistently. Rodney Chatman had a very quiet night scoring the ball with just three points, but rebounded and passed the ball extremely well especially in the first half. For some reason I felt like Cross wasn’t 100% into it tonight. Maybe 95%, but not the extra five. He missed a big dunk and picked up a silly third foul early in the game at half court. He does have the skill set to dominate games however when he is fed constantly. He came away with three blocks as well, I just would have loved to see him get more touches inside and exploit Grady’s size.

Top Performers

Christian Bryant – 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
Avi Toomer – 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
DJ Brittian – 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals
Kemari Averett – 7 points, 4 rebounds
Tykwaan Bryant – 6 points, 3 rebounds

Tyleen Patterson – 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
Tyheem Freeman – 15 points, 3 assists, 2 steals
Jacara Cross – 14 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 blocks
Rodney Chatman – 3 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists

12-12 Top Games Preview

IMG_7921No. 1 Lithonia (5-2) at No. 6 St. Pius (5-1)

The No. 1 ranked Bulldogs visit the No. 6 ranked Golden Lions in a crucial Region 6-AAAA showdown. Both teams along with No. 5 Grady have emerged as the front runners to win one of the state’s toughest regions. Grady visits Lithonia on Friday with a chance to extend their lead on the rest of the region after already knocking off St. Pius, 51-50. Even after back-to-back losses to Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC) and 3ANo. 3 Morgan County 44-41, Lithonia has maintained its No. 1 ranking all season. The addition 6-foot-7 forward Jacara Cross from Cedar Grove has seemingly put the Bulldogs over the top as a legitimate state title contender. Cross is coming off a 19-point, 10-rebound performance in an 85-52 blowout victory over Chamblee on Tuesday. His versatility to score inside and out coupled with the rest of a talented senior class makes Lithonia a diverse team that can get stops and get out and run while also being able to score in the half court. Tyheem Freeman scored 22 points on Tuesday while Rodney Chatman finished with 13 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Tyleen Patterson is another important guard and Derious Wimberly is an experienced body inside. St. Pius will counter with leading scorer, senior forward Kerney Lane. The 6-foot-6 southpaw leads the Golden Lions in scoring with over 21 points per game. His ability to drive the lane and hit the open jumper makes him tough to stop. In a 33-30 slugfest victory over Columbia on Dec. 4, Lane drilled a three at the buzzer to secure the victory and fend off the Eagles. He scored 24 of his team’s 33 points and doesn’t shy away from taking big shots. He receives help from another talented forward, Christian Merrill. Inside, 6-foot-7 Jakob Spitzer must play well. He has shown flashes this season of being a threat down low, but consistency is the one aspect he must find in order to take not only his game, but the Golden Lions to the next level. His play inside against Cross will be an important matchup to keep an eye on.

IMG_7923No. 9 LaGrange (5-0) at No. 8 Callaway (2-0)

5ANo. 9 LaGrange plays the first of a home-and-away tilt against 3ANo.8 Callaway on the road. LaGrange is still looking to hit its stride under first-year Head Coach Mark Veal. Junior LaPerion Perry was hampered at the beginning of the season due a fractured toe he suffered while playing football, but he has begun to work his way back into shape. He joins Rico Smith, an explosive guard who has produced games of 36 and 31 points already in the early season. In Tuesday’s 55-51 win over Whitewater, he scored a team-high 18 points to keep the Grangers undefeated. Mike Hardy, Qua Epps and Alex Dantzler are all capable scorers in the guard heavy lineup. A pair of 6-foot-6 forwards, Kenan Gray and Bryan Fanning, help balance the offensive attack. Fanning finished with 12 points Tuesday night. Callaway is another team that relies on its quick and feisty guards to harass opponents into turnovers which lead to easy buckets. Last year the Cavs were one of the highest scoring teams in AAA, averaging 79 points per game. Junior combo guard Braylon Sanders paces the attack with 18.5 points per game. Dre Martin has poured in 16 points in both games while 6-foot-4 forward Joe Brown is averaging 14 per game. Earnest Patillo is another dangerous threat and scored 17 points in the Cavs’ 75-62 season opening win against Greenville to lead the team.

IMG_7922Harrison (4-2) vs. Houston County (2-2)

On Nov. 3 I released my Sandy’s Spiel Super Sleepers (https://sandysspiel.com/sandys-spiels-super-sleepers/) for the 2015-16 season, and low and behold, two of them meet at the East Hall Showcase tournament. Harrison has played well this season as they battle for a top four seed out of Region 4-AAAAAA. On Tuesday the Hoyas dropped a close one, 69-68 at Hillgrove. Austin York is the team’s captain and go-to player. He is 6-foot-4 and has good feet inside, showing an ability to score down low with a variety of moves. York also likes to step outside and shoot the three when open, and is a steady defender, always eager to give his body up to draw a charge. Ryan Boler is another hard working post player that does the dirty work inside for Coach Clay Crump. Tate Coston, Chris Brown and Juwan Owens all do nice things from their guard positions and help keep the offense flowing. They will be tested by 2-AAAAA’s Houston County Bears, a dangerous team that continues to grow under Coach Stephen Walls. Zion Johnson, DL Hall, Jaylon Golds and Amari Colbert are all strong guards that can score the ball and defend. They will be put to the test on Friday at No. 8 Warner Robins, but it won’t be their first challenge of the year. After dropping the season opener to the nearly unstoppable Khavon Moore and Westside-Macon 64-41, a week later they quickly rebounded and defeated them at home, 78-75 in overtime. Three days later they fell to 1ANo. 4 Whitefield Academy 55-50. Last Friday the Bears beat Dublin 88-77 behind some big performances. Johnson scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. Hall went for a team-high 25 points and 12 rebounds while Golds gave Coach Walls another all-around floor game, collecting 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Javion Johnson and Marquis Traylor are two athletic big men that complement the Bears’ strong guard play and make them a complete team.