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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.

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.

Peach State Stops of the Week (12/3-12/9)

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 Bradwell Institute at No. 4 Brunswick

If you want to take a trip to go see the Savannah River this Friday, you might as well stop by to catch two of the coast’s best basketball teams they have to offer at 8:30. The Tigers (6-1) are somewhat of an upstart, going 11-12 last year, but were a Preseason Top 10 team and haven’t disappointed yet thanks to the arrival of Preseason All-State First Teamer Khalyn Weekley and Isaiah Scott. Weekley is averaging over 20 points per game as a physical and explosive 6-foot-3 point guard while Scott provides a wiry 6-foot-4 frame on the wing that possesses a soft touch. Add Ronald Canty Jr. and Javonte LeCounte and you have a potent offense. The Tigers face a major test in defending Class AAAAAA state runner-up, Brunswick (5-0). The Pirates have handled their business behind a quick, yet undersized backcourt. 5-foot-8 senior Marcus Scott leads the team in scoring while 5-foot-10 Daquan Humphreys and 6-foot Jaylen Jackson are also experienced seniors. Tarique Gray and Shaky Baggs are two versatile pieces at Coach Chris Turner’s disposal.

No. 5 Southwest DeKalb at No. 3 Miller Grove

Region 5-AAAAA is always a dogfight with DeKalb County powers going toe-to-toe nightly. The young Panthers (5-2) will try to pick up a statement win over the Wolverines (4-2), who have seen their dominance and their talent gap shrink over the past two years, but still remain the team to beat. Sophomore point guard KD Johnson has proven to be the real deal and merits his Preseason All-State honors. The fearless competitor is averaging 18.9 points, 4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.6 steals per game. James Glisson III continues to round into a strong post presence, the 6-foot-6 junior averaging 13.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks while lanky 6-foot-4 wing Eugene Brown III is chipping in 11.1 points and 7 rebounds. The trio will have to compete with TJ Stargell, Maurice Harvey and Lorenzo Anderson who pace the Wolverine offense from the backcourt. Stargell plays floor general while getting Anderson and Harvey in scoring position. Jermon Clark and Kevin Paige are two space eaters that rebound and block shots inside.



No. 7 Cedar Shoals at Clarke Central

The shoe is on the other foot for the first time in a long time for these two Athens rivals. Though they are currently ranked in the Top 10, No. 7 Cedar Shoals (2-4) is reeling after three straight losses against elite competition including a 74-48 defeat against Region 8 foe No. 2 Buford this Tuesday. Clarke Central (5-0) hasn’t played nearly as difficult of a schedule but have the momentum heading into Saturday’s showdown. The Gladiators have often been the underdog but even so, they’ve always found a way to play the Jaguars tight, losing 73-70 and 67-57 last season. The core of Dwon Smith, Quamontae Monfort, Mijah Campbell and Jaiquez Smith have helped the Gladiators to their best start since 2013-14’s 26-2 team. Trey Johnson and Martavius Darden give Andre McIntyre a bevy of scoring options. Cedar Shoals will turn to sophomores Quincy Canty and Tyler Johnson to provide an inside-outside punch. Jai’Vanni McDavid and Keivaziay Ball are scrappy senior guards that have been through countless wars under Coach L’Dreco Thomas. Keep an eye on sophomore Demetrius Glenn, a sharpshooter that transferred from Clarke Central to Cedar Shoals this offseason.

Georgia State Session II Top Teams

By Trent Markwith   (@TMarkwith14)

Parkview Impresses

There was some talk surrounding the Panthers coming into June after losing three key transfers to Shiloh, but this team used the GSU stage to show that they are just fine. Anchored down by Ahmir Langlais inside, Parkview has a dependable post presence in the 2019 big. Langlais is tough and very active down low, but is also smart in the post, knowing when to kick to guards if he is doubled.

The Panthers made their mark this weekend with pesky defense in each game; they have a plethora of tough guards who take pride in locking down on every possession. Their guards were also reliable on offense with good production from Wilfred Campbell, Brandon Harvey, Jamiel Wright, and others.

The Parkview guards can shoot outside and penetrate, which ensures that teams cannot just harass Langlais in the post without any worries. This combination of defensive pressure and an inside-out presence on offense propelled the Panthers to impressive wins throughout the weekend, which ended with them winning the championship against Cedar Shoals, who had beaten them earlier on Saturday. New Head Coach John Collins should be excited to see what this group will do in the winter.

Cedar Shoals Reloads

With the departure of nine seniors, there may have been some uncertainty heading into 2017-18 for the Jaguars. However, the defending Class AAAAA state runner-up gained two nice additions in 2020 players Tyler Johnson and Quincy Canty from Athens Christian, to go along with some returners who are ready to step up. The Cedar Shoals squad looked very good at GSU, with wins over St. Pius and Miller Grove in bracket play before losing in the aforementioned championship game against Parkview.

Johnson showed a nice all-around offensive skill set for the team, capitalizing on catch and shoot opportunities and scoring off the dribble consistently during camp. Canty provides versatility as a forward for the Jaguars; he was effective on mid-range jumpers and was aggressive inside on both ends, using his athleticism to rise over defenders for rebounds and buckets.

Rising seniors Jaivanni McDavid and Keivaziay Ball also had solid performances for the team, putting them with Johnson on the perimeter creates a very nice trio of guards for the Panthers. McDavid and Ball both know how to fill it up and will provide toughness and leadership for the Cedar Shoals team this year.

St. Pius Strikes Again

St. Pius was one of my favorite teams at the Georgia Tech team camp and this weekend they were back at GSU with more impressive play. The Golden Lions displayed the same fundamental, energetic play throughout the camp that I saw before, but I also had a few new observations this weekend.

Both Gonzalo twins missed some time at GSU and without two main guys, I felt like Everett Lane solidified himself as the go-to guy and clear leader for the team this upcoming season. Lane is such a competitor and thrives in big moments when his team needs someone to step up.

Along with Lane, Troy Stephens and Niko Broadway both picked up their play at the camp, further proving themselves as key pieces for St. Pius in 2017-2018. Both of these guards showed good toughness and scoring ability for the Golden Lions. Zach Ranson, who always plays with a lot of passion, seemed to have raised his level of intensity even more this weekend. Ranson was fierce inside, converting on crafty reverse layups, throwing his body around, and running hard in transition for easy baskets.

Time To Shine For Harvey And Co. At Miller Grove

With the graduation of Tae Hardy, who averaged nearly 20 PPG last season, several players now have the opportunity to step into the spotlight for Miller Grove. Maurice Harvey is now the primary ball-handler for the Wolverines and excelled in his role at GSU. It was already known that Harvey was a freak athlete in transition and while he put that on display this weekend, he also showed some nice point guard skills. Harvey made good reads off the pick and roll, dumping down to the roll man and hitting mid-range pull-ups when defenders went under the screen.

Other standouts for the Wolverines were Jermon Clark and Kevin Paige, who have big, physical bodies that they used to their advantage during the Wolverines’ games. These mobile, athletic forwards were very aggressive and productive for Miller Grove during their time at GSU; they scored and rebounded with ease for the Wolverines and showed that they form a post duo that will create issues for opposing teams this season.

Gainesville press frustrates Miller Grove


No. 2 Gainesville 84, No. 2 Miller Grove 65

It didn’t take long for the 2016-17 GHSA season to give us a doozy of a matchup, albeit still just a scrimmage. Class AAAAAA Preseason No. 2 Gainesville hosted Class AAAAA No. 2 Miller Grove as the Wolverines took to the floor for the first time without familiar face and seven-time state championship winning coach Sharman White leading since the program’s inaugural season in 2005.

The Miller Grove machine piloted by Rasul Chester looked like it was ready to keep clicking, jumping out to a quick 8-0 lead against the hosting Red Elephants behind two Jalen Mason threes. Gainesville got off to an inauspicious start, Kajuan Hale blowing a wide open layup off the tip and struggling with turnovers, but the Elephants quickly put the slow start behind them and began to gain their footing thanks to their potent junior class.

Jarred Rosser got Gainesville on the board at the 5:33 mark and Bailey Minor chipped in the first of four three-pointers on the night to steady Gainesville. Miller Grove stifled the Elephants early, altering shots at the rim. 6-foot-7 junior Kevin Paige swatted away six shots on the night and pitched in a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. A bucket along the baseline gave the Wolverines a 16-7 lead at the 1:30 mark of the first quarter, Miller Grove humming along.

Things changed.

Gainesville ratcheted up the pressure with their full court press and saw Miller Grove start to breakdown. The Wolverines were hampered with early foul trouble, 10 to 2 in the first quarter and Gainesville capitalized, closing the quarter down 18-16.

The length between Jarred Rosser, Jarrel Rosser and KJ Buffen disrupted Miller Grove. The Elephants consistently trapped the first pass and continued to harass the Wolverine ball handlers in the half court as well. The end result was a 31-to-5 Gainesville run that swung into a 38-21 advantage.

Hale started to assault the basket with his quickness. He scored seven points from the line in the second quarter while Minor punished Miller Grove for leaving him open in the corners, dropping in 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first half.

As the turnovers forced by the Gainesville press and the fouls continued to pile up, the flustered Wolverines unraveled, picking up two technical.

Senior Tae Hardy, an explosive scorer who will be counted on to pour in points, was held scoreless by Hale and the rest of the Gainesville defense before his first hoop at 2:16 in the second quarter, Miller Grove down 43-25.

Giving the Wolverines a pulse was Lorenzo Anderson. The junior guard tossed in seven of his team-high 18 points in the first half.

Traditionally a strong three-point shooting team, Miller Grove’s only deep balls came in the first minutes of the game via Mason as the likes of Hardy and George Wilson struggled to find the range. Miller Grove limped into the half down 48-27, Hardy unable to connect on a tough lay-in at the buzzer.

But as any proud program goes, the Wolverines didn’t go down without a fight in the second half. Gainesville led 52-29 with 5:55 remaining in the third quarter before Paige sparked life into the Wolverines. The big man met Buffen at the rim and rejected a dunk attempt, igniting the fast break. Hardy turned it into an And-1 and missed the free throw, but that was all the microwave needed to will his team back into the game.

Hardy went off, scoring 12 of his team-high 18 points in the frame. The Wolverines chipped away with an 18-to-7 run to bring the game to 59-47 with 50 seconds left, but Austin Long banked in a straight away three and Miller Grove picked up their fourth technical of the game.

Brent Kelly followed up a Mike White miss at the buzzer and all of a sudden, a once narrow 12-point game was ballooned back up to 67-49 entering the fourth.

My Take:

It’s only logical for Miller Grove to be a little down this year, but even after tonight’s performance I don’t think the Wolverines are a team to overlook. Joshua Jackmon should return by January after tearing an ACL in the offseason. His leadership from the bench was apparent tonight. Miller Grove would have loved to have the senior out there on the court. But even without the defensive ace, they played aggressive pressure defense with their guards in the half court early on, but once fouls became a problem and Gainesville was able to dictate tempo with their full court defense, everything changed. Tae Hardy was kept in check with two points in the first half. He tried to put on his cape in the third quarter, but too many turnovers and emotions for the entire team deterred their comeback. Miller Grove has talented guards, but aside from Hardy, the simple fact is they haven’t played big time meaningful minutes at the varsity level. This was a good test for them against a strong Gainesville team. The talent is there, but it will take time for the Wolverines to put it together. The lack of a lead guard that could clear out and break the press all by himself hurt Miller Grove. I’m not sure whether or not that’s a lack of expertise ball handling or just great Gainesville length on defense. The two bright spots throughout the night for Miller Grove were juniors Lorenzo Anderson and Kevin Paige. Anderson did a very nice job in the open floor and was able to finish at the cup. He looks like a guy that could emerge. He came off the bench and took a ton of minutes away from sophomore Maurice Harvey who hardly saw the floor after starting. Not positive whether it was foul trouble, injury or just getting lost in the shuffle, but Harvey didn’t tally a single stat when he was on the floor. Paige is a guy that has gotten better every time I’ve seen him. He didn’t play a whole lot down the stretch during Miller Grove’s state title run last year. I got my first glimpse at him over the summer and he has come a long way. Not just a big space eater anymore, Paige showed a great motor flying in for rebounds and turning back six shots on defense. His double-double was a pleasant surprise. Miller Grove doesn’t really run any set plays for him and let him get the ball off the glass. If he develops some post moves, he could be an interesting piece come his senior year.

Well, well, well. Gainesville has all the pieces you want to be considered a serious state championship contender in Class AAAAAA. Five players cracked double figures with two more on the verge. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Bailey Minor is a college basketball player. I cannot fathom how teams let him drift to the corner unguarded for open threes. Not only did Minor can four deep balls, he showed a nice baby hook in the lane and collected seven rebounds and three blocks. KJ Buffen, Jarred Rosser and Jarrel Rosser are long glasses of water. Jarrel played atop Coach Benjie Wood’s press and made it nearly impossible for the Miller Grove guards to get past him when he would double team with Kajuan Hale and others. The Rossers and Buffen play above the rim. Buffen showed an all-around floor game with a couple smooth glides to the basket. He picked up six rebounds and five assists in the win. Hale had a shaky start to the game but he picked it up once Gainesville’s defense started to translate into offense. He’s a quick guard that has good court vision. He alongside Xavier Bledson will be sure to dish out some highlight dimes this season. Mike White came off the bench and played with a wrapped hand. Once he’s healthy, he brings another strong wing athlete that can shoot it. Definitely can’t forget about the play of Austin Long. The epitome of a role player, Long did good things when he was on the floor and hit a huge three to stymie Miller Grove’s third quarter push.


Top Performers

Bailey Minor – 20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks
Kajuan Hale – 12 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
Jarrel Rosser – 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
KJ Buffen – 10 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block
Jarred Rosser – 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks
Xavier Bledson – 8 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals
Austin Long – 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

Miller Grove
Tae Hardy – 18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals
Lorenzo Anderson – 18 points, 6 rebounds
Kevin Paige – 11 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks
Jalen Mason – 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 steals