Tag Archives: St. Pius

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.

No. 2 St. Pius blitzes No. 7 Stephens County 79-65

No. 2 St. Pius 79, No. 7 Stephens County 65

From the opening tip, No. 2 St. Pius (8-1) was on a mission to take care of business at the beautiful Currahee Arena. No. 7 Stephens County (6-1) turned out the lights to bring a raucous atmosphere into play, but the home standing fans were quickly negated by the Golden Lions’ 9-0 run just 1:16 into the contest.

Instead of using a timeout to try and slow down St. Pius’ defensive harassment and three-point barrage, Coach Chad Bridges elected to try and let his guys play through it, a plan that backfired. The Golden Lions attacked and attacked. Zach Ranson came off the bench and quickly picked up a steal and assist to Brian Gonzalo.

When the dust settled from the first quarter, it was a 27-9 St. Pius advantage. Interestingly enough, the Golden Lions got out to their hot start with point guard Matt Gonzalo on the bench to begin. Stephens County sat 6-foot-7 post DeUndra Singleton to begin as well. Tae Thornton looked like the only Indian ready to handle the Lions’ non-stop pressure defense, but against a team like St. Pius, it takes more than one soldier to defend the castle.

After sinking five first quarter threes, the Golden Lions continued their onslaught, hitting four more in the second quarter. With the game already out of hand, Jackson Bell provided a small spark for the Indians, entering the game and picking up an And-1 opportunity off a put-back but the Indians still trailed 36-19 with 3:39 remaining in the half.

Stephens County went on a run and closed the gap to 41-28 with 55.2 seconds left, riding Thornton’s fearless play attacking the rim and setting up transition opportunities, but momentum was quickly lost as St. Pius closed on a 4-0 spurt including a Finn McCurdy put-back at the buzzer to take a comfortable 45-28 lead into halftime.

St. Pius opened up the third quarter a little sloppy as the Indians played fast and tried to use their length and athleticism advantages against the Golden Lions. At the 6:20 mark, Stephens County had clawed their deficit to a hoop away from being single digits at 45-34, but it would be the closest they would come in the second half. St. Pius quickly answered with an 8-2 run to balloon the lead back up to 53-36 hitting threes to crush the Indians’ spirit. Brian Gonzalo sank two threes in the period on his way to finishing with a team-high 15 points while brother Matt sank a triple, as did Patrick Snipes, contributing to the Lions’ 13 three-pointers on the night.

At the end of three quarters, St. Pius held a 67-45 lead and would milk it all the way to the final horn. Singleton scored eight of his game-high 21 points in garbage time while 6-foot-6 Ty Nails tossed in six of his 12 points in the same frame.

My Take

The gap between No. 1 Upson-Lee and No. 2 St. Pius and the rest of the field seems enormous right now. No. 3 Sandy Creek is quietly having a strong season, as are teams in Region 1 out in Columbus, but the Knights and Golden Lions are playing great basketball night in and night out. The Golden Lions’ press defense is suffocating. They put their foot on the Indians neck from the opening tip and never gave them an opportunity to even think about an upset. The Lions move the ball so well, they are most likely the state’s most efficient offense when they are clicking. Driving and dishing led to countless wide-open three-pointers; they had 21 assists as a team. Defenses will need to be on a string to be able to contest all of St. Pius’ open looks. Matt Gonzalo and Brian Gonzalo were at their best tonight, peppering the defense with their drives and their three-point shooting. Matt is one of the quickest guards with the ball in his hands in the state. Everett Lane buried his three-point chances and rebounded well for his size. I love what Niko Broadway and Patrick Snipes bring to the table. They aren’t flashy but they are trustworthy glue guys that are always in the right spot to fill up the stat sheet. I need to see more from Kennedy Willis inside. He struggled to make an impact and wasn’t able to really clamp down on DeUndra Singleton. At 6-foot-8, a reboundless game is not going to cut it.

Stephens County was just outclassed tonight. They are still a very dangerous team for the rest of the state, but they just don’t matchup well with what St. Pius does. Tae Thornton was most impressive. He was a little out of control at times, but the 6-foot-1 senior guard played very hard and his athleticism gave St. Pius trouble from time to time. DeUndra Singleton didn’t have the D1 performance I was hoping to see from him tonight, but the big fella is still definitely a college prospect that will be able to provide minutes at the next level. The pace of the game was not conducive to post play, but Singleton still managed 21 points and 5 rebounds. Not being able to play above the rim will hurt him at the next level, but he still is a load on the low block and uses his burly shoulders well. Ty Nails was quiet. The 6-foot-6 swingman didn’t handle St. Pius’ pressure very well and struggled to get going on offense. Jackson Bell brought a nice energy off the bench. His hustle shined more than his skill, but he did good things out there for Coach Bridges. Senior guard Brandon Wheeler was aggressive attacking the boards from his guard position and picked up a handful of steals.

Top Performers

St. Pius X
Brian Gonzalo – 15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Everett Lane – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Patrick Snipes – 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Troy Stephens – 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
Matt Gonzalo – 7 points, 6 assists, 3 steals
Niko Broadway – 5 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 1 block

Stephens County
DeUndra Singleton – 21 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal
Tae Thornton – 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Ty Nails – 12 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

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.

Georgia Tech team camp analysis

I made it out to Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Here are the camp’s biggest takeaways.

The Return of the Messiah

Messiah Thompson was one of the top performers at camp. The 5-foot-9 2019 point guard started his career at North Atlanta before transferring to Pebblebrook for his sophomore season. Now back home at North Atlanta, Thompson resumes the role as lead dog. Thompson plays with a chip on his shoulder and is the unquestioned engine for the Warriors. He posted 18 points, five assists and three steals in a blowout win over Harrison and followed up with a 17-point showing against Dacula. Thompson has a good feel for the game and court vision which allows him to make his teammates better. He scored from beyond the arc and when attacking the basket.

North Atlanta should be much improved from their 7-18 mark not just because of the return of Thompson, but the addition of fellow Pebblebrook transfer Andrew Robinson, who brings energy at 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4 junior Joshua Johnson who was mightily impressive in his first impression. Josh is extremely active and athletic which helps him finish around the basket and rebound. He had 11 points and eight rebounds against Harrison. The nucleus of 2019 players could have North Atlanta competing in Region 7-AAAAAA sooner rather than later.

Fitting In

Quincy Ademokoya suited up for Dacula after recently transferring in as a highly touted 2020 prospect from Illinois, but it was easy to see that Ademokoya is not yet a finished product, though he showed flashes of a solid skillset. He was passive in Dacula’s 54-53 win over North Atlanta. The 6-foot-6 wing finished with three points, seven rebounds and two assists. Both Dacula and Ademokoya are still in the feeling out process as to where he best fits in. Once he finds his role and synergy with his new teammates, Ademokoya should be able to gel. He is in good hands with Dr. Russ Triaga and an established core of Falcons.

Arusha Hunter

One player who had no trouble taking charge was 2018 shooting guard Arusha Hunter. Hunter has continued to rise his game to the next level. After averaging just 4.2 points per game as a sophomore, Hunter turned in 17.3 a night his junior season leading to Class AAAAAA Most Improved honors. Against North Atlanta the 6-foot-2 scorer poured in 26 points, assaulting the basket. Hunter went 16-of-18 from the foul line, crafting his way into the paint at will. With Mekhail Bethea sidelined with a leg injury, Hunter shined and got buckets when needed.

See Ya Seniors
Coach Eugene Brown addressing the Panthers after a win over St. Pius

Four seniors with major experience and a combined 29.8 points per game between them have left the Southwest DeKalb program. The mass exodus is quite ponderous, but Southwest has more than enough to be competitive with talent dripping from the Class of 2020.

Point guard KD Johnson is a fierce competitor that makes all the plays down the stretch. Johnson seemingly has a magnetic pull to the rim, always finding a way to slice and dice his way to the cup and finish strong. Johnson has the chance to be one of Georgia’s best finishers by the time he’s a senior. While he is a respectable three-point shooter, if he can improve his stroke even more, it will be tough to stop him.

Eugene Brown III is still a gazelle on the floor and looks taller every time I see him. Brown is about 6-foot-3 and has a chance to squeeze at least two more inches out of his frame. Brown can handle the ball in transition and covers ground quickly with his long strides. Playing key minutes as a freshman alongside Johnson will bode extremely well over the course of the twosome’s career.

6-foot-6 rising junior James Glisson III showed promise in the Panthers’ 47-44 comeback victory over St. Pius. Glisson finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Senior Demarion Johnson will be asked to provide leadership on a young team. He was active against St. Pius, using his 6-foot-3 build to snag nine points and five rebounds.

Same old St. Pius

With nearly everyone back from last year’s Class AAAA state runner-up roster, St. Pius is still one of Georgia’s most efficient offenses that maneuver with precision cuts and passes. Everett Lane looks ready to grab ahold of the No. 1 option title if there is one in St. Pius’ balanced attack. Lane has thrust his way into the discussion as one of the best shooters in the Class of 2018.

Floor general Matt Gonzalo enters his junior season and continues to orchestrate the offense at a high clip and handle opposing ball pressure. He is the type of player who won’t wow you with big numbers, but if you see him in person you will truly be able to appreciate what he brings to the table.

The Golden Lion forwards had a nice weekend. Zach Ranson played above the rim and finished around the hoop. Rising junior Patrick Snipes caught my eye with his work out of the post, facing up and using his quickness to get by defenders and create advantages.

Milton Maturing
Donaven Hairston

Milton is looking to restore their momentum after an interesting season resulted in just a 14-14 record, but good enough to steal a Region 5 title away from Lambert. Gone is Duke-signee Alex O’Connell, meaning the keys to the car officially belong to rising sophomore point guard Christian Wright. Wright had just six points against St. Pius, but he showed he could turn the corner and get in the lane when he felt like it. Teams will surely key in on slowing him down this year meaning Donaven Hairston will have to step up. The 2019 point guard is slight of frame but still can sneak past defenders and score in traffic. He turned it on in the second half against St. Pius, scoring 17 of his game-high 18 in the frame.

Cherokee County’s Finest
Adrian Cohen lines up a foul shot

Etowah is now the team to beat in Cherokee County after peaking at the right time and capturing a Region 4-AAAAAAA championship and a Sweet 16 berth. Coach Jason Dasinger takes over as head coach and will look to continue to ride the momentum that Milton head man Allen Whitehart put in motion. Dasinger inherits a very good group headed by Jaxon Etter, Adrian Cohen and Julian Baldwin.

Etter, a late blooming 2019 who really came out of nowhere last year, is a steady 6-foot-3 guard with deceptive quickness. He works all levels of the floor and can score the ball. Etter uses controlled dribbles, backdowns and head fakes to ensure he gets clean looks. He poured in 23 points and five rebounds in a 52-51 loss vs. Tri-Cities.

Cohen is a 6-foot-5 wing that has been putting it all together and has a chance to stamp himself as a Low Major prospect with a good senior season. His three-point shot is now a weapon after diversifying his game from just being a slasher.

Baldwin was not in attendance at camp meaning Carter Ingersoll took his minutes. The rising senior is an old school post that uses positioning and body control to score inside. He takes his time and is methodical while working the pivot and showcases some nifty post moves. He finished with 11 points and nine rebounds against Tri-Cities.

Tri-Cities Impresses
Jon Young

Tri-Cities can shoot the ball when they are on. The surprise Class AAAAAA quarterfinalist used a difficult Region 5 to prepare themselves for the state tourney. The Bulldogs have some firepower coming back and see some new faces join the roster as well.

DaMarcus Johnson is a microwave scorer at point guard. The 2019 shooter can catch fire from deep. He is 6-foot on a good day but makes the most out of his size with his quick burst and ability to create his own shot. To play at the next level, Johnson will need to continue to work on making his teammates better.

One teammate who should easily benefit is 6-foot-4 senior Eli Lawrence. The lanky lefty is lights out when he gets going. He dropped in 15 points in a win over Etowah. Lawrence will be joined by Jon Young, who was fabulous in the first half, scoring 16 of his 18 points. Young was on fire, drilling threes and scoring off the bounce. He will benefit from Johnson and Lawrence’s scoring threat. Young is now on his third school entering his senior year. He began at Westlake and bounced to New Manchester for his junior season before coming to Tri-Cities.

6-foot-7 Zachary Morgan brings an interesting dynamic to the Bulldogs. He is a grown man inside strapped with muscle. He didn’t get many opportunities to score the ball, but he showed he could face up and attack the hoop. Defensively, he can alter shots and clean the glass.

Georgia Tech camp Team Reviews Part 1

By Trent Markwith (@TMarkwith14)

Southwest DeKalb

Coach Eugene Brown addressing the Panthers after a win over St. Pius

With the departure of some 2018 players, SWD sported a very young team at GT this weekend. Even with this youth, SWD looked pretty good and had nice wins over Milton and St. Pius. SWD looks to be led by KD Johnson, who has been making some noise with the GA Stars on the travel circuit. Johnson is a fiery competitor and exceptional athlete who gets to the basket whenever he wants, he is a prospect to keep an eye on in Georgia’s 2020 class. Along with Johnson in the backcourt is Eugene Brown III, another 2020 guard. Brown is a long, wiry player who displayed a nice offensive skill set with solid ball-handling and finishing in transition, and an effective jumper. SWD also has two productive forwards in James Glisson and Demarion Johnson. Glisson provides a big body down low, has a soft touch around the basket, and stays active on the glass on both ends. Johnson is a tough player who plays with a lot of energy and excels in his role on this team as someone who doesn’t demand the ball much but defends, rebounds, and finishes inside. This SWD team could definitely have a successful year as their young players continue to develop and mature.


Donaven Hairston

This weekend, Milton was led by three different players who all had impressive moments throughout the camp. Christian Wright, Ulyric Linton, and Donaven Hairston all look ready to have solid seasons for the Eagles. Wright (2020) and Hairston (2019) share ball-handling responsibilities in the backcourt and are both confident with the ball. Wright has a crafty handle and mature body for a 2020 player, which he uses to get inside for either fancy finishes or kick-outs when the defense collapses. Hairston is a speedy guard that can score in bunches with finesse inside and perimeter shots off both the dribble and catch. Linton (2018) was aggressive the entire weekend; the strong, left-handed wing was consistently looking to get inside and finish through contact in each of Milton’s games. Others who saw a lot of time were Evan Hurst, Vince Graves, and Brady O’Connell. Hurst, a 2020 guard, has a smooth game and provided some scoring for the Eagles. Graves and O’Connell both give good length and athleticism to the team; look for new coach Allen Whitehart to get more out of them in terms of activity and intensity. Milton definitely missed the production and energy of JP McGhee this weekend but expect Coach Whitehart to have this squad prepared for 2017-18 as they become more disciplined and find their identity.

St. Pius X

The Golden Lions played like you would expect from a state runner-up at Tech. Pius is one of the most well-rounded, fundamental teams that you will see in Georgia and that was on display this weekend. Highlighted by crisp ball movement and unselfishness on offense, Pius was able to get quality looks throughout the camp. They also played suffocating full-court defense that you might not expect from a team in early June, this pressure surprised teams and forced them into frequent turnovers. It seems like this team will be led by scorer Everett Lane and facilitating PG Matt Gonzalo, but there are many other capable players on the Pius team that will give quality minutes. Zach Ranson, Brian Gonzalo, Troy Stephens, Niko Broadway, and Patrick Snipes will all produce for the Golden Lions as well. I was most impressed with the energy and chemistry that Pius plays with. There aren’t any players with their own agenda on this team, things flow smoothly because it doesn’t matter who scores and each player wants to see the others do well. The entire team, whether on the bench or in the game, is loud and you can sense energy being given off from one player to another. These traits keep Pius intense and locked in the whole game, it easy to see why they have been one of the better programs in Georgia for a while now.


Adrian Cohen lines up a foul shot

Coming off a region championship and Sweet 16 appearance, Etowah is looking to follow up with success again this season and showed the potential to do so over the weekend. New coach Jason Dasinger is one of the most intense coaches you’ll see and he has his guys playing with great effort. The Eagles were led by versatile backcourt players Jaxon Etter and Adrian Cohen, both are bigger guards that can handle the ball. Etter is fearless going to the basket and gets there with ease due to his combination of speed and strength. Etter has also improved as a shooter since I saw him in the spring, hitting multiple mid-range shots and threes. Cohen is a well-built slasher who excels in transition and is starting to develop a reliable outside shot. In the frontcourt, Julian Baldwin is a long, athletic player who rebounds well and finishes with ease off of put-backs and drop-offs. With Baldwin gone on Sunday, Carter Ingersoll picked up his play and had a good day. Ingersoll showed good post moves and footwork inside, to go along with a nice short corner jumper. Ingersoll may be somewhat undersized for a post player but he is an excellent rebounder and understands how to score down low. Etowah’s offensive skill paired with their defensive energy should have this Eagles team poised to make a run at another region championship.