Tag Archives: Rob Grubbs

Young Tigers claw past No. 3 Sandy Creek in white-knuckle tug-o-war at Fayette County

Contributed by Rob Grubbs   (@RCGJr226070)

Fayette County 67, 4ANo. 3 Sandy Creek 65

Fayette County and Sandy Creek went down to the wire

It’s still a week until Thanksgiving, but the menu for early season GHSA basketball games has whetted our appetite for the season ahead.  One such game was the cross-county rivalry between two Final Four teams from last year, the Sandy Creek Patriots from AAAA and Fayette County from AAAAA. Playing before two huge student sections, the game stayed within six points the entire night. The ending was dramatic, as the Tigers would score the winning basket on their last possession for the 67-65 win.

Coach Andre Flynn is back on the Tiger bench, he has coached there for over 20 years, but the players that took them to the Final Four in Columbus have moved on. He is working with a clean slate, but because of his consistency and the system he employs, the new players know exactly how they fit in. This year’s group is built around athleticism and discipline. For Sandy Creek, they brought back much of the talent that took them to Augusta last year for the semifinals but have welcomed a new coach, Jon-Michael Nickerson. Coach Nickerson, who comes with an impressive resume as a player, high school coach and college coach, brings a more defensive mindset than the past. He has a deep, talented roster with height and leadership.

On this night, there was a buzz before the tip that lasted until the final whistle, both coaches and players would say it’s early, this is a non-region game, it is not that important in the grand scheme of things, but actually, it was important to them and their play proved that. In a game that was crisp and full of athleticism and sportsmanship, Sandy Creek took a two-point lead to half. You could tell the defensive energy that both coaches were looking for was there which kept the game low scoring.

The fourth quarter, which started with Fayette County ahead 48-45 was almost a blur. It felt like the first three quarters were warm up and this was for real. Josh Dupree and Rickey Knight would hit back-to-back threes to give the Tigers the largest lead of the night at six, only to see Sandy Creek come back. Jarred Godfrey would hit two threes himself within 15 seconds of each other and with 2:50 remaining, the Patriots were up 60-59.  Ultimately, it came down to a tie game with under a minute. Fayette County point guard JeKobe Coleman, an ELCA transfer, worked from the top of the key as the Tigers waited patiently for their opportunity. With 9 seconds remaining, Coleman found Jordan Brown who had snuck in behind the Patriot zone defense for the game winning shot.

Sandy Creek had eight seconds, but Josh Dupree stole the basketball and ended the night

Afterwards Flynn said, “Our guys are so young, you don’t know how they will compete until the game starts, we did not play well on Saturday in a loss to East Coweta, but I am proud of how they fought tonight. We want to see how they respond when they get beat up because it gives you an indication of the growth. We will need to continue to grow as the year goes on.”

Takeaways

  1. JeKobe Coleman threw the pass to Brown for the winning score just like he did this season for the Fayette County football team as their QB. He was very calm and collected, the moment was not too big for the sophomore.  It is always great to see the two sport athletes play.
  2. Jarred Godfrey has bought into Coach Nickerson’s philosophies on the court. Godfrey has developed into a true leader, the college watching last night loved his performance.
  3. Patriot Kameron Miller has one speed – wide open; he scored, he passed, he rebounded and he was everywhere.
  4. The Tigers are young and are liable to have a bad game from time to time, but they are good and will get better.
  5. The Patriots lineup of Miller, Godfrey, TJ Bickerstaff, Xavier Brewer and Julian Alexander has a good mix of height and quickness.
  6. Look for both teams to make noise in the post season.

Top Performers

Fayette County
Rickey Knight – 20 points, 2 rebounds
Josh Dupree – 15 points, 2 rebounds
Terrell Bradley – 14 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists
JeKobe Coleman – 9 points, 2 assists

Sandy Creek
Jarred Godfrey – 22 points, 3 rebounds
TJ Bickerstaff 22 points, 11 rebounds
Kam Miller – 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists

Fayette County Lady Tigers impress with cross-county win over Sandy Creek

Contributed by Rob Grubbs   (@RCGJr226070)
Photo by CD Photography (@FayetteSports)

Fayette County 58, Sandy Creek 32

Trinity Brown
Trinity Brown || CD Photography

FAYETTEVILLE, Georgia – Two teams that had impressive finishes to last years’ season faced off in an early inter-county rivalry game. The Sandy Creek Lady Patriots made it to the Class AAAA Final 4 where they would lose to eventual champion Columbus. Graduation was not kind to Coach Janie Hodges and the Lady Patriots as they lost their dynamic backcourt duo of ShanQuaylia Stanton and Kasey Toles from last year’s team. This year’s team will be focused more on a strong inside game from their star post players, Daija Powell and Paris Thompson.

Fayette County Coach John Strickland also lost a key player from last year’s Class AAAAA Sweet 16 team, Darryl Langford who is at the Naval Academy now, but brought back a deep roster with strong senior leadership. In contrast to Sandy Creek, the Lady Tigers bring experience to the backcourt but are young inside. The matchup was a classic opportunity for both teams to see where they are and what needs work. Since this is was a non-region game, one team was going to win while the other was going to learn more about themselves.

Sandy Creek jumped out to an 8-5 first quarter lead with all points scored by Powell.  The new guard tandem of Nina Lum and Jania Hodges were constantly feeding the ball down low, and Powell was moving in the paint with ease. As the game progressed, the Lady Tigers continued to rotate players, making wholesale changes at almost every break.  Guards Maegan Brantley, Sidney Sims and Trinity Brown were playing fast and they slowly turned the defensive pressure up which wore down the Patriots. After taking a 22-18 lead into the half, the Lady Tigers dominated the third quarter with their full court press and depth to pull away.

Afterwards, Strickland was proud his post players who were getting the first significant playing time of their career. “Naomi Franco and Celine Akande played outstanding against their inside players, who are really good. We know what we have in our frontcourt, we know what to expect from Maegan, Trinity and Sidney, but I was really encouraged with how Naomi and Celine played. If they continue to progress, that will open up more of our offense.”

Strickland also wanted to brag more on his ladies latest academic feats than the game, he said, “This has the potential to be a special group.”

In the end, it was Fayette County 58-32 with Brown and Barkley leading scorers with 15 each. Franco played a solid game in the post, just missing a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds. Powell led the Lady Patriots with 15; look for them to improve as the season goes along and their guard play gets more comfortable and confident.

Top Performers

Fayette County
Maegan Barkley – 15 points, 3 rebounds
Trinity Brown – 15 points, 3 rebounds
Naomi Franco – 9 points, 9 rebounds
Sidney Sims – 8 points, 9 rebounds

Sandy Creek
Daija Powell – 14 points, 8 rebounds
Paris Thompson – 10 points, 3 rebounds

No. 1 Westlake impresses in preseason romp of Fayette County

No. 1 Westlake 66, Fayette County 42

Contributed by Rob Grubbs   (@RCGJr226070)

FAYETTEVILLE, Georgia.  The top-ranked Westlake Lady Lions opened the 2017/2018 basketball season with a scrimmage on the road against the Fayette County Tigers Wednesday night. Westlake has been to the Elite 8 three years in a row, but with the talent, depth and the top ranking, this season they want more. Coach Hilda Hankerson said, “Our ladies are excited about the #1 ranking, they are ready to compete.” The Lady Lions took that first step with a convincing 66-42 win over a very good Fayette County team.

Coach Hankerson has a powerhouse lineup with three pre-season Class AAAAAAA All-State players in Texas Tech signee Taylor Hosendove, Simone Lett and Shekinah Howard to go along with All-Region guard Anastasia Warren, Carlyse Hooks and Paris Mullins. To compliment their veteran roster are two impressive freshman as well, Raven Johnson and Brianna Turnage who will be making noise in the seasons ahead.

The game was tied at 6  at the four minute mark when the Lady Lions unleashed a suffocating full court pressure defense and quickly went on a 17-0 that put things away early. It did not help that Lady Tiger leader and three-point sharp shooter Rikkelle Miller got in foul trouble immediately and missed most of the first half. With Warren putting constant pressure on the ball, Fayette County struggled to put together scoring possessions.

The Lady Tigers found some answers after halftime and with Miller connecting on several 3s, the Lady Tigers were much more composed against the constant pressure and held their own. But Coach Hankerson was rolling fresh players constantly into the game. With their depth (Coach Hankerson has 15 players and they all look like they could start), they are equipped for a season that will see fatigue and foul troubles at some point.  Warren led a balanced scoring attack for the Lady Lions with 12 and Hosendove added 11, while Miller lead the Fayette County offense with 10 points.

Afterwards, Hankerson was pleased but saw a lot of work ahead. When asked what they needed to work on after the game, she quipped, “Everything, but especially our rebounding and defensive rotations. Those areas were not where they needed to be. We have a lot of potential, but right now, we have a lot of things to work on.”

This is going to be a fun season to watch for Westlake. Leadership and the talent to raise the bar from the past three years and complete something special. The Fayette County Tigers will compete for the Region title in 2-AAAAAAA and will look to once again return to the state playoffs.