Tag Archives: Westminster

Georgia State Session II Under The Radar Teams

By Trent Markwith   (@TMarkwith14)

John’s Creek

The Gladiators are a team that doesn’t have a bunch of size down low, but this squad has a trio of guards that will be expected to do a lot this season. 2019 Neil Ilenrey is a really strong, physical guard who seeks out and absorbs contact on his way to the basket. Ilenrey finished through hits with regularity and was not afraid to take perimeter shots either. Will Penland is an outside specialist for Johns Creek; he can get hot quickly with his high-arcing shot and when he does, it is big trouble for the opponent. Rising senior Nate Gauthreaux may have been the most impressive of the three Gladiators. Gauthreaux is an exceptional shooter who can hit from a lot of different areas on the floor. He also displayed the athleticism and ball-handling ability to push in transition and weave through the defense for layups. Johns Creeks will depend on these guys in 2017-18 and it looks like they are ready to carry the load.

Westminster

The Wildcats came to Georgia State without two key players in Paris Howland and Carter Oesterling, but others rose to the occasion and the team had some nice moments during the camp. Westminster sported an undersized squad this weekend but was successful on offense with a lot of half-court movement, unselfish play, and outside shooting. Niki Manocha, TJ Malloy, David Perchik, and Chance Hausman all showed confidence shooting from deep in different games for the Wildcats. Eli Barry is another Westminster guard that played well; Barry is a high IQ player who consistently scored and facilitated while also having an impact on defense. Matt Howard and Charlie Ham manned the forward spots for the team; although neither are the tallest, Howard used his wide body and Ham used his athleticism to be effective inside. Oesterling and Howland will give Westminster two needed ball-handlers to deal with pressure and score. This team may struggle against bigger, more athletic opponents in 2017-18 but the Wildcats will be able to find success due to their fundamental, patient style of play.

Lovett

This weekend was my first time seeing the Lovett squad without transfer Ryan Greer. Although they will definitely miss Greer, the Lions have several capable players that will have solid seasons. Nick Jackson looks ready for a big year; you can’t label him with a specific position but Jackson has a non-stop motor on both ends and makes things happen on offense with great strength and the ability to penetrate. Lovett has two players that can light it up from the outside: Crawford Schwieger and Lance Beck. Schwieger has made his mark previously as a shooter and can hurt teams with either threes or mid-range jumpers. Beck has good size for a shooter and a quick release to go with it, he also showed glimpses of slashing ability when defenders flew at him on the perimeter. Mike Hardee saw a lot of time at PG for the Lions this weekend and showed the potential to make plays off the dribble, which Lovett needs more of. Evan McKown and Peyton Ringer were both out this weekend but will help the Lions a lot. I’m interested to see what Ryan Koudele has in mind for this team, he always gets the most out of his guys.

Holy Spirit Prep

The Cougars are a team that I highlighted after the Georgia Tech camp, mentioning Ant Edwards, Kamani Johnson, and Kye Jeremiah. This trio performed well again this weekend, but there were a few other HSP players that also showed they will contribute this season. Incoming transfer Jaylen Dunham was with HSP for the first time at GSU and had some solid performances. Dunham is a strong lefty with some shooting ability, but he is at his best when he gets to his left hand where he slashes aggressively and finishes through contact. Nick Maddox played with a lot of aggression for the Cougars; Maddox used his strength to get inside and go into defenders for layups while also showing some touch on his mid-range shots. Christian Fussell is another transfer that could end having an impact for HSP. Fussell is a long forward that has a smooth, soft shot with range out to the 3-point line. Fussell is pretty mobile and athletic also, as he gets stronger he could be a problem around the basket, which would create a nice inside-out package for the 2020 prospect.

Cobb SSA Summer Team Camp Analysis

Day 2 of All Tournament Players Park (aka Cobb SSA)’s, Summer Team Camp took place on Tuesday. From 6/13-16, the 10-team field will take the court, playing two games a night. The participants include: Woodstock, Westminster I & II, Kell, Osborne, Lovett, Cumberland Christian, King’s Academy, Active Elite (AAU) and AC Georgia (AAU).

Lovett

Coming off of a Class AA Elite Eight appearance, the Lions lose eight seniors. Luckily for second-year head coach Ryan Koudele, sophomore point guard Ryan Greer, sophomore post Nick Jackson and junior shooting guard Crawford Schwieger all return with plenty of experience under their belts. Lovett lost to Active Elite 57-53 and Westminster 53-50, but the Lion backcourt was dynamic.

Greer finished with 22 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals against Active Elite and followed up with 17 points and seven rebounds vs. Westminster. Greer attacked defenses all night, using a hesitation dribble to square his broad shoulders and finish in the lane. Once the defense was keen to Greer getting to the rack, he would stop on a dime and make a pocket pass to an open teammate. Greer plays beyond his years. His maturity level measures up with top seniors across the state.

Crawford Schwieger commanded constant defensive attention
Crawford Schwieger commanded constant defensive attention

Running mate Crawford Schwieger tickled the twine all night as he was the best shooter in the building. He canned six threes en route to a 20-point performance in Game 1, and knocked down three more on his way to 15 points in Game 2. Schwieger is a floor stretcher extraordinaire that commands attention as soon as he crosses over mid-court.

For an undersized post, Nick Jackson played tough inside and corralled 10 boards against Active Elite who featured big-man Chris Agbo.

Westminster

A 22-3 season ended on a sour note last year as the Wildcats were stunned in the Region 4-AAA tournament and were denied a postseason bid after ranking in the Top 10 for much of the season. Will Benson, a 6-foot-5 workhorse forward, has graduated and was selected by the Cleveland Indians 14th overall in the MLB Draft last week.

The Wildcats scored a 53-50 win over Lovett thanks to the play of senior Mikael Sampson. Sampson, 6-foot-6, was anchored on the block last year. Now that Benson is out of the picture, the offense will run through Sampson. He looked much more confident against Lovett and Coach Tray Malloy put the ball in his hands, taking over the role Benson held. When Sampson put the ball on the floor, he was a freight train.

Mikael Sampson can now score inside and out
Mikael Sampson can now score inside and out

He finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocks. Sampson has extended his game to the three-point line even, knocking down a straightaway three. Being able to play on the perimeter will greatly help his stock instead of solely being viewed as a back-to-the-basket energy big man. Sampson will have all the opportunity in the world to stuff the stat sheet his senior season as the offense will run through him.

Woodstock

After waiting 20 years for their first state playoff appearance, the Wolverines will look to build on their success behind a talented backcourt. The Wolverines thumped Cumberland Christian 90-48 and then trounced King’s Academy 71-44.

St. Francis transfer Dylin Hardeman powered Woodstock in the second half. The sophomore hit a three at the buzzer to extend their lead to 34-28 going into the break before he exploded for 12 of his game-high 19 in the final 20 minutes. Hardeman provides good size at the off-guard position standing 6-foot-3, and brings a confident swagger after having a great summer circuit with 16U Team Atlanta.

Senior holdover Tyreke Johnson has garnered the most interest from next level coaches. Johnson played well at the Kennesaw State Elite Camp on Sunday and continued where he left off last season, posting 17 points and five rebounds. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 17.6 points per game last year and shouldn’t have as much pressure on him to score the ball now that Hardeman is in the fold.

Late blooming stretch forward Cameron Crowe had a big game against King’s Academy with 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Crowe stands close to 6-foot-6 and brings with him some nice athleticism inside that will pair well with bruiser Brant Hurter. Crowe rebounded with two hands and showed a nice touch off the glass in the paint.

Rising junior Will Allen played sparingly last season but played exceptionally well off the bench on Tuesday. A long 6-foot-4, Allen drained three three-pointers and tallied 15 points, five rebounds and one block off the bench. He looked confident and wasn’t afraid to let it fly. Allen should be a very nice rotational piece in the mold of graduating forward Zack Wallace but with more aggression.

Once all of Coach Kingston Clark’s pieces are together, including Hurter and Noah Frith, Woodstock has to be an early favorite out of Region 4-AAAAAAA.

Chris Agbo

Senior center Chris Agbo suited up for Active Elite after playing with the Southern Stampede this summer. Agbo by far is the biggest, strongest player I have seen in the high school game since covering it this past year. At 6-foot-8, 250 pounds of all muscle, the Covenant Christian super hero is imposing to say the least.

Active Elite earned a 57-53 win over Lovett and Agbo was a big reason why. Early in the game, Agbo was laboring getting up and down the court, seemingly disinterested. Once he was subbed out, he was grimacing and holding his shoulder. He decided to change shoes and shook out his arms and looked fine the rest of the game. He wrecked the Lions frontline for 15 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.

Agbo understands how to throw his body into defenders to square up his shoulders, but sometimes over does it when he doesn’t need to, drawing a few silly offensive fouls. He could still use some refining on the low block as far as post moves and counter moves go as he still can get away with overpowering opponents with brute force. Agbo tipped a lot of balls to himself on rebounds and got away with it because of his size. Against bigger opponents however, he will need to grab them with two hands consistently.

Overall, Agbo dominated the paint when he wanted to and came away with a monster stat line. The Nigerian native will warrant college looks from his size alone. If he can rev his motor up and play hard every possession, his recruitment will soar his senior season.

Region upsets shake state picture

Just a day after defending Class AAAAA state champion Brunswick fell to Statesboro in the Region 3 tournament, eliminating the Pirates from postseason contention, more madness rocked the state.

The Statesboro Blue Devils struck again, defeating No. 9 Effingham County, bouncing the Rebels to the consolation game after Effingham had not lost a region game all year. The fifth-seeded Blue Devils now meet two-seed Camden County for the region title and a number one seed heading into state.

Stunners rattled the landscape of Class AAAA. Region 1’s top-seed No. 9-ranked Monroe was hammered by fifth-seed Westover 61-43. The Patriots advance to the region title where they will matchup with two-seed No. 10 Bainbridge. Tyree Crump (UGA) and the Bearcats are peaking at the right time, winners of six-straight. They advanced to the championship after dispatching of three-seed Worth County 80-59.

Region 1 gets Region 4 in round one. No. 1 Jonesboro blew past the second-seeded No. 8 Eagle’s Landing Eagles 70-52. In the championship the Cardinals meet opposite number one-seed and No. 7-ranked Walnut Grove. The Warriors rallied past three-seed Eastside 51-47 last night. The two-time defending state champion Cardinals are the favorite to three-peat this year and are expected to win their region, but the first round of state won’t be a cakewalk as they will draw either No. 9 Monroe or Worth County, a team which has spent time in the top ten and boasts one of the best frontcourts in the state with 6-foot-8 power forward Anfernee McLemore heading to Auburn and 6-foot-5 Brandon Moore, who posts over 22 points and 12 rebounds per game.

In Region 6-AAAA No. 4 St. Pius blew a 50-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter against No. 5 Grady. The Knights were fouled attempting a three with 1.6 seconds left in a tied game and sank all three free throws to overcome a 15-point deficit and win 59-56. Grady now plays No. 2 Lithonia in the region championship while St. Pius plays fifth-seed Columbia.

Class AA’s defending state champ No. 2 Seminole County lost to No. 9 Early County 73-66 in Region 1. The Indians will face fourth-seed Fitzgerald in the consolation game while No. 1 Thomasville draws the Bobcats with the top-seed out of one of the state’s toughest regions up for grabs. If things go chalk in Region 4 with No. 4 Crawford County advancing to the region title game and beating No. 8 Macon County, if Seminole County were to lose to Fitzgerald, or if the Indians won and Crawford County lost, the opening round of the state tournament would see a 2015 state title rematch between Seminole County and Crawford County, a high-flying game the Indians won 76-71.

The upset of the night took place in Region 4-AAA. No. 7 Westminster entered its game with Jackson-Atlanta, winners of 21-straight and holding a 22-2 record. After dispatching of four-seed Jackson-Atlanta in the middle of January, 52-44 at Jackson, the Wildcats looked like a lock to advance to state. The Jaguars entered at 14-11 overall and 4-6 in region play, but it did not stop them from stunning the Wildcats 53-48 and in the process eliminating Westminster from making the state playoffs.

21-straight wins, only three losses on the year and all Westminster has to show for it is nothing at all. That is the definition of playoff basketball and that is what makes the March to Macon, or February Frenzy, so unpredictably great.

Westminster Can’t Shake Slow Start Against No. 5 Sandy Creek

4A No. 5 Sandy Creek 62, 3A Westminster 47

St. Francis High School was host to the Verizon Hoops for a Cure Classic which featured No. 5 Sandy Creek and a Westminster program coming off an 18-8 season. Right away the up-tempo Patriots established their dominance with Gardner-Webb signee Christian Turner hitting Elias Harden on the left wing for a three-ball to open the game. Harden drilled three deep balls all in the first half and finished the game with 15 points.

As good as Harden was from distance, it was Turner who powered the Patriots. He helped ignite a 10-1 run in the first quarter that would give Sandy Creek all the space it needed as Coach Anthony McKissic’s team took a 17-11 lead into the second quarter. Turner scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the first half and bullied his way to the bucket at-will against the smaller Westminster guards.

The Wildcats managed to hang around in the first half with big man Mikael Sampson in foul trouble. The junior picked up his second foul at the 1:21 mark of the first quarter and didn’t score in the first half. Dual-sport star Will Benson was quiet as well in the first two quarters before slamming home a dunk in the final minute of play in the second quarter to give him the team lead with seven points entering the break as Westminster trailed 32-22.

In the third quarter it seemed like momentum would finally swing in favor of the Wildcats as rim protector Keith Heard II picked up his fourth foul at the 4:18 mark of the third with Westminster down 36-26, but McKissic elected to leave him in and seconds later he was rewarded when Heard caught an alley oop and laid it in. Heard fouled out with 1:48 to play in the third with the Patriots holding a 42-28 lead. Entering the fourth Sandy Creek was in control 46-31.

Coach McKissic gearing up for the fourth quarter
Coach McKissic gearing up for the fourth quarter

Sampson and Benson came alive in the fourth quarter, both scoring six apiece, but they could not get any help and Turner continued to control the action for the Patriots. He scored seven points in the final frame and AJ Freeman added five to keep the Wildcats at bay. Westminster was unable to cut the lead to single digits as Sandy Creek’s defense came up with the stops it needed to keep a comfortable distance.

Turning Point: Off a high miss off the backboard, Will Benson came soaring in for a thunderous putback dunk to bring Westminster within 46-33 with 7:10 to play, but the Patriots quickly raced the ball down the court and AJ Freeman converted on a three-point play to take the wind out of Westminster’s sails.

Highlight of the Night: Will Benson turned the tables on “Lob City South” as he recorded three big dunks. His putback dunk, which almost looked like a pass off the glass, left those in attendance marveling at the Duke baseball commit’s athleticism.

My Take: Sandy Creek looks and plays the part of a Top 10 team in the state. They are long, athletic, can shoot and showed discipline; all signs of a well-coached team. Their defense is what can make them a state title contender. The activeness of Keith Heard and Evan Jester inside will be something to watch all season. Christian Turner was a bulldog attacking the basket and abusing the smaller guards of Westminster. He would put his head down and attack at-will, but also was able to find open men outside. Elias Harden settled for too many threes in the first half. Once he started attacking in the second half, it was clear to see why many high major programs are after the junior. Xavier Brewer ended up being the X-factor today. The long sophomore entered in the first quarter and quickly sparked the Patriots. He finished with five points and seven rebounds. Westminster was a little shorthanded due to the football season, but the Wildcats showed flashes of promise. Will Benson didn’t get a ton of chances to create in the first half and I would have liked to see the ball in his hands some more. Mikael Sampson had a slow start to the game but came on strong in the second half. Philip Jones didn’t score much from his point guard position but he filled out the stat sheet in other areas. Tyler Barry, former NBA’er Jon Barry’s son, did not shoot well at all finishing with six points and a lot of missed opportunities. If the core of Jones, Benson and Sampson can control the offense and have it run through them, the Wildcats should have another successful season.

Top Performers:

Sandy Creek
Christian Turner – 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals
Elias Harden – 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Evan Jester  – 6 points, 9 rebounds
AJ Freeman – 9 points, 2 assists
Xavier Brewer – 5 points, 7 reboundsFullSizeRender (2)

Westminster
Will Benson – 18 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block
Mikael Sampson – 9 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block
Philip Jones – 5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
Tyler Barry – 6 points, 3 assists, 2 steals FullSizeRender (1)

 

Primer: No. 5 Sandy Creek (2-0) vs. Westminster (0-0)

4A No. 5 Sandy Creek (2-0) vs. 3A Westminster (0-0)

A highly talented Sandy Creek team, who enters the season ranked No. 5 in Class AAAA, will matchup against AAA Westminster in the Verizon Hoops For A Cure Classic hosted by St. Francis.

The Patriots behind new Head Coach Anthony McKissic have lived up to the moniker of “Lob City South”, crushing opponents behind alley-oops and suffocating defense. They have notched wins over Morrow (scrimmage) 93-55, Cambridge 82-37 and Banneker 75-36. Saturday’s showdown will be a step up in competition against a Wildcat program coming off an 18-8 season.image2

Four-star guard Elias Harden leads the balanced Patriots offense which averages 78.5 points through two regular season contests. He enters with a 19.5 scoring average while grabbing seven rebounds per game. Evan Jester and Keith Heard II anchor the paint. Jester, a 6-foot-6 junior, is averaging a double-double early in the year with 16.5 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 pogo stick Heard, is posting four points, eight rebounds and 4.5 blocks. AJ Freeman is going for 14 points a night and Gardner-Webb signee Christian Turner is logging 12 points on average from his guard position. The onslaught of offense has put up big points, but it has been the defense igniting the Patriots, coming up with 27 steals per game.

Will Benson | USA Baseball
Will Benson | USA Baseball

Westminster will look to Philip Jones to handle the high defensive pressure the Patriots will bring. Jones is an experienced senior guard who has played in some big games over his career. The offense runs through Will Benson, a 6-foot-5 forward who brings shades of Bo Jackson onto the hardwood. The AAA All-State Honorable Mention Benson is a premier baseball prospect that will be drafted in 2016. He has committed to Duke and will attempt to play both sports if he decides against going pro. On the court he is a physical specimen with burly shoulders and ball handling skills that allow him to attack the rack. The southpaw truly looks like a man amongst boys with his athleticism and playmaking ability.

X-Factor: Sandy Creek’s Keith Heard will play an important role on Saturday. His ability to alter shots and clean up misses could be a difference maker. If he is active on both ends of the court for McKissic, the Patriots will be in good shape. Westminster has a big guy of its own who is slowly beginning to come into his own. Junior Mikael Sampson is another strong bodied power forward who likes to mix it up inside. His strength and athleticism will challenge the Patriots’ big men inside. Sampson had a good summer at the 2015 HoopSeen Fall League and will try to build on his success.