Tag Archives: St. Pius

St. Pius looks golden behind Kerney Lane and brothers

“A workhorse. He’s an absolute gym-rat. I’ve never quite been around somebody who loves the game as much as him. He loves it, he lives it, sleeps it, breathes it and he’s somebody that when the lights turn on and when the crowd’s big, his game rises.”

That is what St. Pius X Head Coach Aaron Parr said at DeKalb County Media Day of senior forward Kerney Lane. The Golden Lions, coming off of a school-record 25-win season and a Sweet 16 appearance, have relied heavily on the southpaw since he moved to town for his junior season.

Born in San Luis Obispo, California, his mother elected to move the family to the East coast to be closer to relatives. It turned out to be a good decision and a blessing for the Golden Lions as Lane earned First Team All-Region honors last year and now has St. Pius at 17-2 and ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA.

Windermere Prep Rock Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team
Windermere Prep Rock Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team

Going from California to possibly the toughest region in the state, Lane explained that the competition in Georgia is a bit fiercer.

“In California I went to a small catholic school with like 400 kids and we played other catholic schools that were around the same size,” said Kerney. “So I’d say that the competition here is a little more competitive just because of people being taller and more athletic. Just the skill of play is probably a lot higher because Atlanta is obviously a big city.”

King of the Jungle

Playing in Region 6 means there are no days off. Entering the season, four teams were ranked among the top ten. Fast forward to Week 9 and the Region boasts No. 2 Lithonia, No. 3 St. Pius and No. 4 Grady, with Lithonia and Grady both holding the No. 1 spot in the state for multiple weeks.

The Golden Lions have never been known as a high-flying act or a power plant for Division-I talent, so how have they been able to compete with the likes of Lithonia and Grady with Bucknell-commit Avi Toomer and even a prestigious program such as Columbia?

“Focusing on details has put us in a great position,” said Lane of the Golden Lions’ current 42-7 two-year span. “I think we’re a very respectful team because of our defense and how we shoot the ball and how we play well in big moments. Last year we had the most wins Pius has ever had because we did the small things.”

Simply put, with all the success St. Pius has had, it all boils down to one thing.

“It has a lot to do with our coaches and our players all wanting the same thing, which is to win. I think that Coach Parr has set us up for each of us to succeed in the right moment.”

The smooth lefty has averaged 18.5 points and 7 rebounds per game this season, meaning he is St. Pius’ go-to guy on offense; a role Kerney embraces.

“I’m a really big competitor. I just think that when my team needs me, I’ll step up for them. I’ll do whatever it takes to win. So if that means me scoring a lot, I’ll do that. If it means me passing or making big plays for someone else or finding someone else then I’ll do that. I think it’s just whatever my team needs me to do, I’ll do.”



Overcoming Adversity

A player with the right size and versatile skillset to score either inside or outside is something college programs crave. So why is one of the Peach state’s best unsigned seniors still available? During the travel season with the Atlanta All-Stars Lane tore his meniscus in June which caused him to miss some time during the hotly recruited summer months. The adversity of the slight setback did not hinder Lane’s ability to stay positive and work his knee back into shape. With the numbers he is producing his senior year, no one can question that Kerney is back to 100 percent.


Programs such as Elon, Holy Cross and UNC-Asheville have remained in touch with Lane and have shown interest while Georgia College and North Georgia have put forth offers for the 6-foot-6 forward’s services.

“It’s been difficult at times but I think that by working hard and playing well, coaches will remain in contact,” said Kerney of his recruitment process which has slowly began to heat up.

Parr’s Purpose

One person Lane has leaned heavily on during the recruitment process and who has helped guide Kerney into becoming a better player is Coach Aaron Parr. A Class of ‘06 graduate from St. Pius and the school’s all-time leading scorer, Parr is a young head coach who already is in year five at his Alma Mater after finishing his playing career at Birmingham-Southern.

Coach Parr on stage with Kerney and Christian Merrill
Coach Parr on stage with Kerney and Christian Merrill

His youth and relatability has helped form a close bond between him and his players.

“He has helped me a lot,” said Kerney. “He’s taught me a lot because he’s a younger coach and he’s went through the same thing I have. He’s familiar with AAU and that whole situation, so he’s kind of helped me with getting coaches in the gym and how to react to coaches and respond to them.”

Lane and the entire St. Pius team has a chance to make a statement and gain some exposure as they travel to Norcross High School this Saturday to take part in the Peachtree Corners Invitational (formerly Hilton Invitational). The Golden Lions meet Mountain Brook High School out of Birmingham, Alabama.  The Spartans boast 6-foot-7 freshman Trendon Watford, a five-star prospect and younger brother of former Indiana University standout, Christian Watford. The younger Watford averages 24.5 points and 11.1 rebounds and will likely be locked up with Lane all game long.

With countless college coaches on hand for the day long tournament, Kerney and the rest of the Golden Lions remain focused on getting better each day and not letting the potential pressure of hundreds of eyes watching get to them.

“It’s a non-region game so we kind of look at it more as an opportunity to get better. At every game there could be a lot of coaches, but I think we have to just treat every game like the last one and play hard and try to win every game. I don’t focus on the other stuff.”

Family Ties

Kerney is not the only Lane on the St. Pius roster. Young brother Everett is a 6-foot-2 sophomore who has seen his role and playing time grow each week. At first the idea of playing with his brother was a little different, but now the elder Lane has come to embrace it.

Everett pictured in middle
Everett pictured in middle

“It’s actually been a lot of fun. I was kind of expecting it to be a little annoying at first just because he’s a brother and I’ve been playing with him since I was a little kid, but it’s always been not fun and games, it’s been extremely competitive,” explained Kerney.  “It’s actually been a really big help because we both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses to a point. I think we are both really good when we are on the floor together and he’s having a great year so far. He’s a really good teammate so it’s been a fun experience having us both out there.”

Kerney actually isn’t the oldest brother, the eldest being 22-year-old Arthur who resides in Charleston, South Carolina. Arthur is as proud an older brother as they come, always watching St. Pius games on his computer and supporting his two siblings from over 300 miles away.

“It’s been great,” said Kerney. “He watches all the games online. He’s been an incredible supporter and extremely helpful with things that he sees on film. He is very good with making sure my image is right. He’s very committed to it and I really appreciate that.”

Kerney, with the support of his family along with his teammates and Coach Parr, has put St. Pius into the limelight as a state title contender.  Battling past his minor summer setback, Lane looks to be a lock to follow in his coach’s footsteps and become a gem for any college program that offers him a scholarship.

12-12 Top Games Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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