Tag Archives: westlake

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.

Newton Survives triple-overtime thriller with defending state champion Westlake, 89-83

Newton 89, Westlake 83 3OT

Contributed by Joe Chapman (@Joe_Chapman3)

The moment that the GHSA released the Class AAAAAAA playoff bracket, all eyes fixated on the top right region in hopes of a rematch of last year’s Final Four thriller between Westlake and Newton (Westlake won 64-59). After Newton demolished Peachtree Ridge 100-72 and Westlake topped Roswell 50-37, the dream matchup was set. No. 2 Newton, viewed by many as the best team in the state, against No. 5 Westlake, the defending state champions.

Rarely do games of this magnitude and anticipation live up to the hype. But wow, this may have been the best high school game in the state of Georgia this year regardless of class.

After making the 2-hour trip from Clemson, South Carolina to Covington, Georgia to watch this highly anticipated matchup, I showed up at Newton High School over an hour before tipoff and the gym was already filling up. I knew that this was going to be an incredible matchup when Isaiah Miller threw a self-lob and went between the legs to throw it down in warm-ups. These guys were ready.

It’s hard enough to face the three-guard attack of J.D. Notae, Isaiah Miller, and Ashton Hagans as it is. But with Jamie Lewis out with an undisclosed injury, Westlake needed to play it’s best on the road to come out with a win. Newton struck first and jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead 3 minutes into the first quarter behind a pair of 3’s from senior guard, Darvin Jones, and a 3 and a thunderous poster dunk from Isaiah Miller. The remainder of the first quarter resulted in teams trading buckets and at the end of 1, Newton led 24-16.

In the second quarter, the referees made their presence be felt as they started calling foul after foul, frustrating the capacity crowd. With 4:43 remaining in the first half, and Newton up 30-23, the Rams quickly ran off an 11-0 run behind a trio of 3’s and a big time dunk by super-sophomore, Ashton Hagans. Westlake picked up a couple of buckets late in the first half to make the halftime margin slightly more manageable.

As the 3rd quarter got underway, Auburn signee and top-100 recruit, Chuma Okeke, began to assert his dominance as he quickly rattled off 7 of his team’s first 9 points in the half to cut the deficit to 6 with 3:14 to go in the quarter.

A pair 3’s by J.D. Notae grew the Rams lead back to 12 and by the end of the 3rd quarter, Newton found themselves up 57-48.

With 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Westlake pulled within 5. Then, after some Newton misses and turnovers coupled with huge buckets from seniors Okeke and Daniel Lewis, Westlake found themselves up for the first time all night 67-66 with 1:11 left in the quarter.

Senior, Darvin Jones, got fouled with about 22 seconds left and after making the first free throw to tie the game, he missed the second off of the right side of the rim. Coming out of the Westlake timeout, Okeke missed a shot. The ball then landed in J.D. Notae’s arms but he then threw it out of bounds as he tried to make a cross-court pass with about 6 seconds remaining. Okeke then found the ball in his hands again but missed a floater and the game went into overtime.

After going back and forth for the first 3 minutes of the first overtime period, Newton found themselves up 3 with just over a minute left to play. Following a couple of missed layups from Westlake and a Newton free throw, the Rams led 78-74 with 40 seconds left. A Newton turnover led to a miraculous banked 3 by Daniel Lewis to cut the lead to 1 with 25 seconds remaining. Isaiah Miller then hit 1 of 2 from the line and sophomore, Caleb Wallace, hit a floater to tie the game at 79 with 12 seconds left. Ashton Hagans then missed a game-winning 3 attempt and the game went into 2OT.

The second overtime was very low scoring as neither team could buy a basket. Newton had the ball up 83-81 with 51 seconds left coming out of a timeout. After some stalling, Westlake eventually got the steal and senior, Kelvin Simeon, hit a layup off of the assist from Okeke to tie the game at 83. Once again, Newton had the last shot in the 2nd overtime session but Isaiah Miller could not get a floater to fall and then Okeke blocked the Josh Tukes follow attempt and the game went into 3OT.

At this point, the crowd was in disbelief as to what they were witnessing. I knew that this matchup would not disappoint but I never thought that it would end up in a triple-overtime outing. Darvin Jones started the 3rd overtime period with a pull-up jumper. After missed buckets by both teams, Westlake had the ball down 85-83 with 1:39 remaining. A missed layup and a turnover coupled with 4 made free throws from Newton spelled the end for the Lions comeback attempt. Westlake did not score in the final overtime session and Newton came out on top, 89-83.

Despite the loss, Chuma Okeke put on one of the best performances that I have ever seen. The Auburn signee finished with 35 points and 20 rebounds and constantly willed his Westlake squad forward. He finished shooting 12-24 and went to the line 16 times, hitting 11 of them. In the end, Newton was just too much for Westlake to handle, but Okeke did everything in his power to carry his Westlake team. Following Okeke, senior UCF commit, Daniel Lewis, poured in 18 points.

Leading the way for the Rams in scoring was senior Jacksonville-signee, J.D. Notae. Notae found his groove early and finished with 24 points that featured 6 3-pointers. Following Notae was unsigned senior, and one of Sandy’s Spiel’s Under the Radar Seniors, Isaiah Miller, as he poured in 21 points and 10 rebounds. The 6’1 high-flying combo guard did what he does best as he threw down a handful of powerful dunks. He also stepped out and knocked down a 3 while also hitting some midrange jumpers throughout the day. Ashton Hagans is special. He just knows how to run an offense and is so mature for a sophomore point guard. He finished the night with 11 points and a career high 17 assists. He also added 5 steals and 5 rebounds in the win. The pass-first point guard led his team all night and was such a calming presence for the Rams.

The X-factor of this game however, was senior guard Darvin Jones. Jones finished the night with 20 points on 7-11 shooting (3-3 3pt) and 3-4 from the line. He started the game by knocking down a pair of 3 pointers and during the overtime periods, he was not afraid to attack the rim or knock down a pull-up jumper following a Westlake basket. He put on a huge performance for the Rams when they needed it most.

This was hands down one of the top-3 high school basketball games that I have ever watched. Not only were these two teams arguably both top-5 teams in the state, but also the game went into triple-overtime. Newton now moves ahead to face a highly talented Tift County (26-2) squad in the Elite 8. As for Westlake, they take an early exit home following their state championship run last year.

Covington, Georgia was the center of the high school basketball world for the state of Georgia tonight, and it certainly did not disappoint. Here’s to hoping that the Elite 8 games will produce the same excitement as this game did tonight.

Fulton County Media Day (Boys)

Complete Video: http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/northview-high-school-johns-creek-ga/26883f8408


Northview
Head Coach: Steven Bombard
Region 7-AAAAAA
2015-16: 8-18

Expectations for the season: “We are pretty excited about this season. We have a really good group of guys returning with varsity experience from last year. We’ve got potentially five guys that were not on last year’s varsity roster that will be on this year’s varsity roster highlighted by Justin Brown, who has some D-I looks already. So we are really excited about the possibilities of what the season can be for us.”

On Justin Brown’s return: “You can see a big difference just in practice. He is one of the most vocal players on the court and it’s a big difference from where he was two years ago when he was just a freshman and was kind of just feeling things out.”

Justin Brown

Back at Northview and ready to be a leader his junior season: “I think coming back here my junior year at Northview, I think we will have a pretty good team and I’m ready to be a leader and just lead my teammates to have a winning season. Coming back from Milton, we had a pretty strong team but I think this year my family and I thought it would be best to come back here where I’m comfortable.”

Alpharetta
Head Coach: Jason Dasigner
Region 7-AAAAAA
2015-16: 11-18

On the dirty work that Garrett Davis does: “There’s a reason why Garrett is sitting at this table right now because he’s everything we want our team to be. I didn’t really know what I was getting with Garrett until I saw him battle with a 6-7 guy in the fall league [FGCU-commit Brian Thomas] without me having to prompt him. He brings toughness, he brings defensive rebounding and offensive rebounding. We may not run a lot of set plays for Garrett, but he could average 8 to 10 points per game by just doing the little stuff.”

What type of dynamic Alpharetta’s football players will bring once they get on the court: “In the fall league they looked decent at times and at times not so decent. I think that our football guys will bring some toughness and a little more athleticism. But I’m interested to see how they respond. They’ve been playing football, they haven’t been with us. We’ve been trying to build this community and these guys get after it every single day in practice. We’re hoping those football guys bring a little beef to the table and some athleticism, but if they don’t fall in line with what we are trying to create, then they are going to be kind of on the outside looking in.”

 

Chattahoochee
Head Coach: Kacey Martin
Region 7-AAAAAA
2015-16: 12-14

Where 6-foot-5 sophomore post Grant Van Beveren fits in this year: “Grant is young, he’s a sophomore. But he’s got some height on him and he’s very patient in the post. You get a lot of post players that get the ball and they try and do things too fast. I think that’s that old school mentality that you were talking about. He’s going to catch it, kind of feel where the defense is and decide what move he is going to make and he’s got really good instincts in the post.”

 

Tri-Cities
Head Coach: Omari Forts
Region 5-AAAAAA
2015-16: 10-14

On playing in a tough deep region: “I think the four teams that advance out of our region will have an opportunity to make a lot of noise in the playoffs. But we try and get them to focus on the process. Focus on us internally. Focus on the process and not worry so much about things down the road that you can’t totally control.”

What style of play they look to implement: “Guys that have coached and played against us the last few years will tell you we run the Triangle Offense. We put a lot of defensive focus. If I said there’s one thing we hang our hat on is half court basketball, being able to execute in the half court sets because when you get to the playoffs a lot of teams are going to force you to play half court basketball.”

 

Creekside
Head Coach: Gregory Freeman
Region 5-AAAAAA
2015-16: 12-14

Outlook for the season: “We have a young team as far as varsity playing experience but we have some older guys. We are a team made up of a lot of juniors sprinkled in with a couple seniors. We are really just trying to gel at this point. We hope the way we practice translates to how we play…We have one rising junior named Tyson Jackson who is one of the top 10 players in the Class of 2018. What I like about the makeup of our team, is they feel like they have a lot to prove.”

 

Langston Hughes
Head Coach: Rory Welsh
Region 5-AAAAAA
2015-16: 11-14

Are the Panthers ready to live up to high expectations, entering the year ranked No. 3: “To be honest, I do. This crew has a lot of experience. When they were 10th graders, we won 21 games. We finished up as a three-seed in the toughest region in the state which was Region 3-AAAAAA. Last year we kind of dipped off a little bit for a variety of reasons. We lost seven games last year by three points or less so we had a tough time closing out some of those really really close games. I think it was a big learning experience for all of us, as coaches and as players.”

Lander Nolley II

What’s different from the Chicago game and the Atlanta game: “The speed is definitely different. The style, how the game flows, it’s all different from Georgia. I just have to make that adjustment to fit in…There’s definitely a lot more running; it’s faster [in Illinois].”

Khalil Cuffee

How to go out with a bang and win a state title his senior year along with Derrick Cook: “We just got to work hard. Bring that to practice every day. Don’t take any team lightly and just come out to win every night.”

 

Roswell
Head Coach: Ty Phillips
Region 4-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 10-16

 

Important football players that will join the basketball team later in the year: “The one kid we do expect to get with our varsity is Jayden Comma. He just gave his verbal to Maryland as a 6-3 receiver. He’s a great kid that’s been in our program since the sixth grade when he started Jr. Hornet basketball. He is just a great athlete. When he gets done with [football] practice, just the other day he came in the gym and was hanging out on the side and watching. Afterwards he was joking with the guys, part of that chemistry. One of the great things for us is when you have a really successful football program, it builds such a great school vibe and spirit and we just want to take that energy and that passion and that pride from being from Roswell and continue it into basketball season.”

 

Westlake
Head Coach: Darron Rogers
Region 2-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 27-4

Is the team ready to compete in the toughest region in GHSA history:

Chuma Okeke: “I’m really looking forward to it. There’s a lot of competition with a lot of transfers coming in. I think this year we are coming in as the underdog really just because we had some graduate. I think we are going to step up to what we have to do and I think we are going to win another championship.”

Jamie Lewis: “Same thing. We lost some valuable players from last year so this year we are really going to have to step up. I’m looking forward to it because it will improve our games individually and as a team.”

Danny Lewis: “We’ve been working really hard every day and we’ve really been buying in and we hope to see it pay off.”

Do you feel disrespected opening the season ranked No. 3 in the state behind two teams within your own region:

Danny: “Not really. We just need to prove it on the court.”

 

Banneker
Head Coach: Earlando Courtney
Region 6-AAAAA
2015-16: 5-21

On freshman Sean Hazel playing varsity: “The first practice, we brought him in and he secretly reminds me of Tim Duncan. His mannerisms and facial expression won’t change at all. Whether he blocks a shot or gets his shot blocked, makes a mistake or makes a great play, it is the exact same thing. So that level of calmness and maturity – even when he makes a mistake he doesn’t get down on himself or even if he does something great he doesn’t get overhyped – that and us being deficient in size and him being 6-foot-3, I was like ok, I needed him probably more than he needed me to tell you the truth.”

 

Centennial
Head Coach: Lorenzo Withrite
Region 7-AAAAAA
2015-16: 14-13

Jay Hothersall

On a playing well in a new region: “It’s wide open. There’s a lot of new teams. We played a couple of them over the fall and the summer. I think once we get the chemistry down, I think we have the talent.”

Craig Shannon

What is the key to the season: “Heart, just because we are probably going to be considered the underdog for most of the season. We just got to have heart, compete, hustle from tip off till the final seconds of the game.”

Cambridge
Head Coach: Chip Flemmer
Region 7-AAAAAA
2015-16: 6-20

Top areas of improvement: “We are going to work really on cutting down the number of points we are giving up each night. We got to get better on free throws and most importantly, we have to cut down on turnovers. We figured it out there were several games – probably eight to 12 games – that two or three possessions cost us, so the record didn’t look so pretty but it wasn’t like we were that far off from being a lot more successful.”

 

Johns Creek
Head Coach: Keenan Temple
Region 7-AAAAAA
2015-16: 24-5

On becoming a head coach again after multiple stops along the way: “I’ve been very fortunate because I coached in Indiana for 10 years then I came here and I coached with Eddie Martin and Scott Bracco, two future Hall of Famers. I’ve learned a lot about how to run a program. A lot about how to handle different situations.”

Coming off the best year in school history, how important is it to establish the program as a top dog in a new region: “It’s important for us and it’s going to play out. These kids have worked incredibly hard, this is probably one of the hardest working groups I’ve been around in years. We want to come out firing, ready to play. I think we are one of the top teams in the region but there’s a lot of talent in the region too. I think it’s a great chance for us, because I think our region games will prepare us for the state tournament and that’s our ultimate goal.”

What people can expect from sophomore guard Neil Ilenrey: “He is a 6-foot-1 linebacker point guard. He’s explosive. He can score form anywhere on the floor. The number one thing for anyone who doesn’t know him, he’s a great kid. He’s a teammate first. All the guys on the team love him. We love having him and he’s very coachable. He’s going to turn some heads.”

 

North Springs
Head Coach: Charles Parks
Region 6-AAAAA
2015-16: 6-18

How to rebuild the program and bring excitement like there was when Jon Burke played in 2010-11: “Just to try and mold these guys’ confidence. I think that’s something that we lack due to playing time together because they come from so many different places. New faces, new bodies and so forth. So just the confidence.”

 

Milton
Head Coach: Matt Kramer
Region 5-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 23-9

How to avoid ups and downs and to peak at the right time late in the season: “Our practices right now are better than they’ve been. That’s a product of me having been here for four years; this being my fourth year. When I got to Milton, we didn’t know how to practice. One of the reasons coaches that have been places for a long time that are having great success is because there’s a culture that has been built there and that culture sets the expectation for practice and sets the expectation for how kids are supposed to act on and off the floor. We’ve got all that right now. My expectation is that we will get better every day and when you’ve got great leadership like Alex [O’Connell], the culture has been set.”

On watching Alex O’Connell grow each year on and off the court: “It’s been amazing. The first time I ever walked in the building, I came from Ohio, I went to Milton the first day and I knew I had his brother Shawn and I’m looking down at the end of the hallway and I see big tall Shawn with the little skinny ninth grader and next to Shawn he looked more like a seventh grader. I knew I was coaching Shawn. I knew there was an Alex but I didn’t know anything about Alex. To see him grow from that skinny little ninth grader to a skinny 12th grader who’s now 6-foot-6, who can do the things he can do on the floor, it’s been something I will probably never see again. There was no way to project Alex being at Duke. That’s a self-made kid right there.”

On Brady O’Connell: “He’s a point-forward. Visualize a Jalen Rose type from the old days. Left handed just like that and he’s as good a passer as you’ll ever see. He sees the floor really well.”

Alex O’Connell

On how younger brother Brady’s game compares to his: “We are definitely similar size, length. He’s probably the same height as me now but he’s sort of a different player. He’s not as aggressive downhill but he has really good court vision up the court and in half court situations. He’s a little bit of a different player. I would say he’s leaning more towards being a combo guard.”

Christian Wright

How would you describe your game: “I’m a big strong guard. I like to get the ball going down the court. I lock up; I play good defense and I can shoot the ball. I play downhill the whole game.”

 

Westlake closes out GHSA season by breaking Pebblebrook’s heart in overtime

No. 2 Westlake 68, No. 7 Pebblebrook 58 OT

Pure madness. That is the phrase that could wrap up the 2015-16 GHSA basketball season. From the terrible conditions at the Macon Centreplex that made you feel like winning the Powerball was more possible than catching a signal, to the taped rims, cracked floors and of course, the baskets not even being regulation length, the Class AAAAAA final will be one that people will gather around the water cooler to talk about and scratch their heads concerning all the strange decisions made.

The game started off ho-hum, as a photographer walked onto the floor in the middle of the action, in a daze as if he didn’t know the most important game of the season was being played – or any game for that matter. The bizarre scene was just the start for a whacky final game that summed up the GHSA season as, ponderous.

No. 2 Westlake (27-4) raced out to a 15-6 lead and looked like they were going to demolish No. 7 Pebblebrook (23-10) and hand them their second-straight blowout loss to the Lions, and fourth loss overall during the season against their Region 3 foe.

Collin Sexton had other ideas. The potent guard came away with a layup in transition to end the quarter after Westlake was attempting to hold for one shot, cutting into the lead 15-12.

It was just the beginning of a monstrous second quarter run for the Falcons. Coach George Washington’s electrifying group stunned the bigger Lions by using Sexton and JJ Smith’s athleticism to counter Westlake’s length. A 26-7 run ended the half with the Falcons on top 32-22, but like in their Region 3 championship meeting, Pebblebrook held an eight point lead before falling 79-57.

Sexton netted 14 of his team-high 18 points in the first half while living at the foul line, sinking all eight attempts. In the second half the Falcons continued to soar. Smith threw down a dunk and helped Pebblebrook to its largest lead of the game, 42-31.

Jamie Lewis wouldn’t let Westlake fade into oblivion however.

The super sophomore poured in 12 of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter and added nine assists on the night to draw the Lions within three, 46-43. The interesting coaching tactics of Darron Rogers came into play. He called three timeouts within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter including one after a Lewis to Ronald Bell alley-oop tied the game at 48 with 5:13 to play.

Chuma Okeke shot just 1-of-3 in the first half for three points but slowly began to wake up when the game was on the line. His seventh point of the contest gave the Lions the lead with 4:43 left. Westlake’s 9-2 run pushed the lead to 52-48. Sophomore Dwight Murray knocked down a three to keep the Falcons in striking distance at 53-51.

Lewis extended the lead to 58-53 when he found Okeke inside with under a minute to go.

After a Pebblebrook bucket, Okeke was sent to the line for a one-and-one. He missed both and Auburn signee Jared Harper, who had a modest finish to his elusive high school career scoring 11 points in each of his last two games after averaging 28 on the season, drilled a three with 19 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime at 58. Little did he know, his 15th point of the game coming on 6-of-19 shooting, was the final basket of his career.

In overtime Coach Rogers elected to hold the ball and melt the first three minutes off the clock as the crowd erupted in boos.

When the Lions finally attacked it was Okeke spinning through the lane for a hoop to go up 60-58 with a minute left. Danny Lewis came up with a runout and connected on a layup but was intentionally fouled too. He hit both free throws turning it into a 4-point play which resulted in a 6-point possession as on the ensuing inbound, Okeke slashed to the hoop for an open layup, 66-58 with now just 27 seconds left, stunning the Falcons a year after falling to Wheeler 59-58 on two last second free throws from Jaylen Brown.

Okeke scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and added seven rebounds. Danny Lewis finished with 14 points and Raquan Wilkins chipped in nine points and six boards. Smith was Pebblebrook’s third leading scorer with 13 points and five rebounds.