Tag Archives: Mays

No. 4 Tri-Cities’ backcourt powers Bulldogs past Mays

Contributed by Rob Grubbs   (@RCGJr226070)

Sponsored by:   @sportalspace

No. 4 Tri-Cities 59, Mays 53

January 9, 2018 (Atlanta, GA): With their matchup Friday night against Class AAAAAA top-ranked Langston Hughes on the horizon, the fourth-ranked Tri-Cities Bulldogs (14-3) faced a potential trap game on the road against their region rival, the always tough Mays Raiders (8-8). Coach Omari Forts has led the Bulldogs on a four-game winning streak, including a victory over the sixth-ranked Jonesboro Cardinals in the Peach State Classic.

Tri-Cities won the previous game between the two schools on their home court back in December 72-55, but this one had all the ingredients for a dangerous game for the Bulldogs and their region title hopes.  Mays has had some tough luck this season; they have two 2-point loses and went toe-to-toe with Langston Hughes in December before losing by nine late. Head Coach William Faulkner has leaned on seniors Kendall Wimberly, Major Weems and Horace Wyatt, who bring somewhat of a football mentality to the court. In a contrast of two different styles, the Bulldogs utilized the quickness of a five-guard lineup to overcome the Mays height advantage for a hard fought 59-53 win.

Mays opened the game in a 2-2-1 zone press that the Bulldogs quickly sliced through for a 6-0 lead. Mays had to call their first time out of the game only two minutes in when Antonio Taylor checked in with a uniform infraction that only the game official noticed. The ensuing designed play saw Wyatt score the first bucket of the night for Mays on a mid-range jumper. Eli’sha King answered on the next possession with a hard work, offensive rebound and put-back. After Coach Forts subbed the entire bench at the half way point, a now proper uniformed Taylor made an excellent pass to Raider Maleak Bryant for a basket that cut the lead down to two. Mays held the ball for the final shot of the first quarter, but Jon Young grabbed the rebound for the Bulldogs and raced down the court for a lay-up at the buzzer to give them a 12-8 lead.

After an Eli Lawrence free throw to start the second quarter, the Bulldogs pressed for the first time in the game and got a quick turnover and an acrobatic reverse layup from Lawrence.  However, the Raider guards quickly steadied themselves and Wimberly would score three baskets in less than three minutes to reel the Bulldogs back in. Lawrence then decided to take the game over as he used his agility to knife through the Mays big men to score 11 of his game-high 21 points which gave the Bulldogs a 29-20 halftime lead.

A quick basket by Young gave Tri-Cities an 11-point lead to start the third. It felt as if they were about to take complete control of the game, but a hard, throw-down dunk by Wyatt seemed to calm the Raiders demeanor and when Weems hit a three, they had cut the lead to five. Mays would outscore the Bulldogs 18-9 over the next nine minutes to pull the game to within two with 6 minutes remaining, punctuated by another Weems three.

Mays had possession and prepared to set up offensively to tie the game when Lawrence got a clutch steal and then a quick basket by DeMarcus Johnson and they slowly began to expand the lead once again. Wyatt would hit two free throws for Mays to bring it back to a three-point game with 2:14 remaining, but Lawrence delivered the dagger with a three-pointer just under two minutes that put it away. Tri-Cities would finish this one out going 7-for-10 from the free throw line over the last minute to seal the 59-53 victory. With the combination of playing on their home court and getting key players back from football, the Raiders made up for the blowout earlier in the season and held their own against the No. 4 Bulldogs.

Coach Forts was very blunt in his post-game assessment, “Our defensive performance was very underwhelming tonight, we came in with a game plan to stop their best scorer and we did not do a good job, that gives us something to work on. On offense, we were very good, I was proud of how we played, I was proud of Jon Young, he was the reason we won tonight.”

When asked about how he coaches his team who is usually at a height disadvantage, he offered a unique perspective, “We play five guards, which is different, it means that two of our opponent’s big men must guard someone quicker than them, we like to exploit this to our advantage. We make up for a lack of height on the boards with overall toughness; we come to outwork you on the glass.”

The outcome sets up the Bulldogs’ showdown with the Langston Hughes Panthers on Friday for the top spot in Region 5-AAAAAA. The two powerhouse teams will play twice in eight days. Forts will need all that quickness and toughness to go up against Landers Nolley and the Panthers front court.  Mays will host Alexander on Friday night in another key region contest, they are trying to claw upward in the region standings.  They have improved and look to continue that going into the tournament.

Rob’s Takeaways

  1. Mays had a strong contingent of players that remained with their football team on their playoff run, which went into the third round. Their last football game was on November 24, 2017, which contributed to their 3-6 start. Since the football players have worked their way into basketball shape, they have gone 5-2. Look for them to continue and improve and perhaps pick up a surprise win along the way.
  2. Tri-Cities got impressive minutes from 6-foot-5 freshman Eli’sha King. He is a player to watch in the upcoming years for the Bulldogs.
  3. The Mays ladies’ basketball team won the AAAAAA state championship last year, but they have not raised their championship banner yet, it is on order and will go up later this season.
  4. Senior 6-foot-4 guard Eli Lawrence has the ability to take over a game, as he did tonight in the second quarter. He has a long, flexible wing span that can cut down quickly on passing lanes. He has a confident air about him and seems to be an extension of Coach Forts on the court.
  5. Going into Friday’s matchup with Langston Hughes, Tri-Cities Coach Forts wanted to point out, “We were the last team to beat them in a region game,” they knocked off the 2016 State Champions last year in the Region semifinals. However, Langston Hughes, playing without a suspended Landers Nolley, lost on Tuesday night at Alexander.
  6. Mays was a good test for Tri-Cities going into the Langston Hughes game, as they are big inside and prepared the Bulldogs for the matchup problems and opportunities that will exist.

Top Performers

Eli Lawrence – 21 points, 5 rebounds
Jon Young – 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
DeMarcus Johnson – 15 points, 5 assists

Kendall Wimberly – 14 points, 5 rebounds
Horace Wyatt – 12 points, 13 rebounds
Major Weems – 12 points, 4 rebounds

Georgia Tech Girls Team Camp Notes

By Bre Singleton (@bre_singleton)

Daishai Almond
Daishai Almond

Reigning Class 6A State Champion Mays faced Peach County in what ended up being a battle. Down by just two points at the half, Peach County had a few bigger guards on the roster to help combat Mays’ quickness. One player in particular stood out. Daishai Almond, a 5’9” point-forward is a baller. On several occasions, she snagged a rebound and pushed it the length of the floor for a smooth bucket. Almond has recently gotten interest from the host team, Georgia Tech to go along with offers from Louisville and Kennesaw State. Whether she chooses to stay in-state, or to take her talents elsewhere, I’m confident that Almond will be able to step in and immediately bring scoring and versatility to any program.

Life after Kamiyah Street will be difficult for Mays but Natoria Hill will look to step up and run the point guard position. Hill, a 5’8” junior, has the length to be a pesky defender and the aggression to get to the rim. With a little more work on her mid-range game, I think she has the potential to be a very solid player. Chardae Bell also contributed with a scrappiness on defense that would frustrate many. Much like Hill, the addition of an outside jumper to Bell’s game would really help her stretch the floor in that Raider offense.


After picking up the win over Peach County, Mays had a state championship rematch with Harrison, who I had the chance to watch a week or so ago and Georgia State’s team camp. I profiled Harper Vick at GSU, but Sarah Woghiren had a command over the court on Saturday for the Lady Hoyas. She put up 17 points and pulled six boards against the defending champs on their way to a win. Woghiren is strong and finishes well at the rim. If you’re going to foul her, you’ve got to make sure she doesn’t get the shot up at all, because if she does, there’s a good chance she’s getting the and-one.

Vick did not disappoint either. Her quickness led to easy leak-outs as Mays defenders had a hard time keeping track of her on the court. Finally for the Hoyas, Mae Willis had a solid game, getting to the free throw line early and often. Willis turns defense into offense for Harrison, coming up with steals and forcing the issue on the break.

Duluth leans on upperclassmen 

The last game of the day that I was able to catch was Duluth vs. Hardaway out of Columbus. As Endia Banks gets settled into college life in Miami, the Wildcats will have some work to do to replace her and Brianna Dixon in the backcourt. Victoria Oglesby is still looking very strong, coming off of several great performances in the state tournament. She was aggressive, getting to the line at will. She’ll look to decide on a school either later this month or early in July after re-opening her recruitment.

Zaniaya Williams is also on top of her game this summer. She pounded the boards hard for Duluth and had several putbacks for scores. Torey Walker, a 5’10” point-forward also looks promising going into her junior year. She seems to be getting more comfortable with her game which ought to bode well for the Wildcats. The only problem that stood out for Duluth was its inability to score. Oglesby broke Hardaway’s pressure but Duluth couldn’t seem to put the ball into the basket very much in the second half. Hardaway on the other hand attacked the basket and finished more often than not. It’ll be interesting to see how Duluth’s rotation shakes out when the GHSA season rolls around. They’ll need to address the backcourt to keep up with the likes of Collins Hill in Region 6-AAAAAAA.