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No. 1 Northview escapes Towne Lake with season-opening win over scrappy Wolverines

No. 1 Northview 61, Woodstock 51

The Class AAAAAA No. 1 ranked Northview Lady Titans hit the road to visit a new-look Woodstock Wolverines team with Jared Hughes at the helm, his first official game on the sidelines after coming over from Rome to replace long-time head coach Julie Crowe. Last season it was the Titans who hosted the Wolverines to open the year with Northview scoring a dominant 57-44 victory. The tables were nearly turned on Tuesday as Woodstock pushed the Titans to the limit before falling 61-51.

Arriving just 15 minutes before game-time after an hour and 45-minute commute, Northview opened up slow with fouls piling up. Starting point guard Asjah Inniss was ushered to the bench with two fouls in just a minute and 50 seconds, immediately testing Northview’s depth.

The Titans managed to push the lead to 10-4, but at the 3:46 mark, it was Maya Richards’ turn to pick up her second foul and head to the bench. With two key cogs on Coach Chris Yarbrough’s bench, the Wolverines made their move. Freshman point guard Kayden Montgomery sparked a 7-0 run to take an 11-10 lead, hustling to earn second-chance points by hitting the glass and deflecting an assist to physical post Ivana George, who scored all six of her points in the first half.

In search of a basket to stem the tide, Coach Yarbrough knew to punch it inside to All-State forward Ashlee Austin.

Woodstock had opportunities to take a lead heading into the second quarter but three turnovers in near succession held the score at 13-13 after one. Highly touted freshman combo guard Eden Sample carried the offensive burden in the first quarter with Inniss and Richards sidelined and the Titans already with nine team fouls. The smooth shooter scored six points and netted 12 of her team-high 16 in the first half.

Playing with two fouls, Inniss reentered to start the second quarter and ignited the Titans. A quick steal led to an And-1 and before long Northview found itself leading 22-14 with 5:37 left to play, a 9-1 run.

Coach Hughes’ Wolverines settled down and cut the lead to 27-22, George and Montgomery working an inside-out game. On the other side, Austin continued to pound away inside. She went 5-of-6 from the line and finished the night with 16 points, 14 rebounds and four steals.

Down 10 with seconds remaining, Montgomery banked in a three at the buzzer to keep the Wolverines in striking distance heading into the half down 34-27.

Northview came out of the locker room with something to prove in the second half. Clamping on a diamond press, the Titans ripped off a 13-0 run to put the Wolverines on the ropes, now down 20 at 47-27 less than three minutes into the third.

Just a few more baskets away from Goliath landing the knockout punch to David, the underdogs found their stone in the form of 5-foot-11 sophomore Sophia Singer. After scoring just four points in the first half, the potential laced wing poured in 10 of Woodstock’s 11 points in the frame including back-to-back threes to put the Wolverines’ upset bid back on life support, heading into the fourth quarter down 54-38.

The Singer onslaught continued in the final frame as Woodstock sparked a 7-0 run to bring the score to 54-45. The closest the Wolverines would draw would be at the 4:06 mark after Singer put in two of her game-high 21 points off an offensive rebound to make the score 55-48.

From that point on, the Titans finally got a hold of Singer and contained her to one point the rest of the way and was able to nurse a healthy 8-to-10-point lead to the finish line. Northview scored all their fourth quarter points from the charity stripe, going 7-of-10.

My Take

It wasn’t the prettiest way to start the season – a foul fest – but No. 1 Northview was able to hang on. There looked like upwards of four future D-I players on the court. Ashlee Austin is still the most consistent player for Northview and she will be asked to become even more of a cornerstone now that Shannon Titus is at Mercer. The 2019 6-foot-2 forward crashed the glass hard as always and looked even better on the perimeter than last year, comfortable going between her legs and off the dribble to create for shooters in the corner. In due time, I’d like to see her finish those drives through defenders instead of kicking out, but she did a good job of not forcing any bad shots. As good as Austin was, Asjah Inniss was the energizer bunny and the straw that stirred the drink for Northview. The quick and wiry sophomore looked like the game slowed down for her after she tended to play a little too fast as a freshman. Inniss has great hands on the perimeter and can get to a ton of 50/50 balls. Her 13 points and nine steals were a major difference maker. The Titans didn’t function nearly as well on both sides of the ball while she was in foul trouble. Freshman Eden Sample has a pretty stroke and good body control when she finds herself on the low block. She’s able to finish through contact. She stepped up big time with Inniss on the bench and will be counted on to stretch defenses. She has a bright next four years. An unsung hero was undersized senior post Camil Butler. She saw sporadic minutes last season but had to play a big role right away with Maya Richards on the bench. She finished with five points (5-of-6 FT), three rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks. She was automatic from the foul line and very composed when she found the ball in her hands. Great lift off the bench.

Woodstock is young and a little banged up, especially at the guard position. That did not stop Jared Hughes’ team from competing the entire 32 minutes. Down 20 points to the No. 1 team in the state, the Wolverines could have easily laid over and took a 30-point loss, but instead they battled and found a new go-to girl in Sophia Singer. After seeing Singer last season as a freshman, you could tell there was potential there. The daughter of Western Illinois football hall of fame quarterback Paul Singer, Sophia stands close to 6-foot tall with an agile frame and long wingspan. She long jumps 17.5 and runs the 200M, so the athleticism to go with her height is definitely apparent. She broke out last night and started to let it fly after a timid first half. When aggressive, Singer can score in the paint, mid-range and knock down the corner three. If she can stay aggressive on offense, she could be just what Coach Hughes needs to push the Wolverines back into the playoffs. She also mixed it up on defense, picking up a nice block on Austin inside and spent the fourth quarter defending Inniss up top, showcasing her ability to guard multiple positions. Aside from Singer’s big performance, freshman Kayden Montgomery played a nice floor game. Not blessed with the size or speed of her opposition, Montgomery was deceptively mobile and used her IQ to craft her way into making plays. She drained two threes and dished out five assists in her first varsity start. She will be thrown into the fire as a youngster and should come out better for it once her career is said and done.

Top Performers

Ashlee Austin – 16 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, 1 block
Eden Sample – 16 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Asjah Inniss – 13 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 9 steals
Maya Richards – 7 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block

Sophia Singer – 21 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
Kayden Montgomery – 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Bree Burnett – 6 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

No. 7 Sequoyah holds off pesky Wolverines

No. 7 Sequoyah 57, Woodstock 54

Cherokee County powers met at the War Lodge in Hickory Flat, Sequoyah entering at a perfect 7-0 and ranked No. 7 in Class AAAAAA while Woodstock, limping in with injuries at 4-4 without South Alabama-signee Devyn Lowe.

On a rare Monday night showdown, the Lady Chiefs and Wolverines went back and forth with both sides trading runs. Sequoyah led 12-11 after one behind Alyssa Cagle’s five points. The Lady Chiefs were on the verge of a taking an commanding early double digit lead if it wasn’t for the hot shooting of senior Taylor Reed. The long ball threat scored seven of her 10 points in the first quarter and drained three threes on the night while using a flare screen to get open on the opposite wing.

In the second quarter, Cagle picked up a hockey assist as she dished to Emily Seres who found AnnaLynne Bennett on a nice interior pass to go up 19-13.

Sequoyah opened up a quick 24-13 lead on a 12-2 run and looked like they were about to put the banged up Wolverines away, but athletic senior slasher Bralise Reese got free and powered a 13-4 run with six of her game-high 16 points in the frame, leading the Wolverines into the half trailing 28-26.

The Lady Chiefs sprung out of the half quickly using five points from Colby Carden. The junior combo guard sank her seventh point of the quarter to give Sequoyah a 40-31 lead with 1:37 left in the third. Sequoyah finished out the period using a Lauren Schletty basket to maintain a 44-33 lead heading into the fourth.

In the blink of an eye, Woodstock crawled its way back into the game riding a 10-2 surge to cut the Sequoyah lead to 46-43. Senior point guard Kamryn Forrester was the catalyst, scoring six of her 10 points in the final 8 minutes and finishing the game with four rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one block.

The Wolverines finally tied the game on freshman Sophia Singer’s three-pointer but Carden quickly got the ball up the court and found Schletty to regain a 48-46 lead at the 2:49 mark. Schletty got hot and scored six of her 10 points in the fourth including sinking two free throws to go ahead 52-46 with 2:11 left, the Lady Chiefs seemingly regaining control of the game.

Instead, Forrester came away with a steal underneath the basket and while tumbling down, kicked the ball behind her to Reese for two of her eight fourth quarter points to make it 56-54 with 42.6 seconds remaining.

Sequoyah’s Bennett was sent to the line with 27 seconds and missed her first free throw, prompting Woodstock head coach Julie Crowe to call timeout and organize a plan for the Wolverines. Bennett coolly knocked down her second attempt, setting up a final possession with 18.5 seconds left for Woodstock after advancing the ball and moving past half court.

Woodstock swung the ball around the perimeter but the best look they could get was a contested Reese heave from the top of the key that clanked off the rim.

My Take

Though she missed two free throws in the fourth quarter and didn’t have as many “wow” plays as usual, junior point guard Alyssa Cagle is still the real deal for Sequoyah. Every time she touches the ball good things happen whether she’s slashing through the lane, finding open shooters or pulling the trigger from deep herself. Coach Derrick DeWitt praised her for even her post defense when getting stuck on bigger Wolverines. As long as she’s in Black and Gold, the Lady Chiefs will be an issue statewide come February and March. She is the leader of a potent 7-man junior class which sees Colby Carden and Peyton Satterfield flank her as dangerous shooters. Carden moves in from Sprayberry, following father Allen Carden who is head coach of the boys team. She played very well with Cagle and provides a versatile scoring punch and high IQ alongside floor general Cagle. Lauren Schletty, one of two seniors on the roster, really came up big in the fourth quarter; she does some nice things around the basket. Without any Hartmans on the roster, Sequoyah’s one bugaboo when it comes to contending for a state title might be their lack of size.

Woodstock has been stung with injuries but that didn’t stop the Wolverines from fighting to the very end. Kamryn Forrester was excellent as an energizer bunny all over the floor, affecting the game in multiple ways. Taylor Reed used Coach Crowe’s flare screen offense to perfection in the first half with three threes. I loved Bralise Reese’s athleticism and tenacity. She was cat-quick getting to the rim and had a great second leap to clean up misses. Her 16-point 10-rebound double-double was a strong effort. A name to stow away in the memory bank is freshman Sophia Singer. The 5-foot-10 youngster resembles Olivia Nelson-Ododa with her long and lanky frame but of course, not at her height or skill set. She knocked down a big three in the fourth quarter and rebounded well.

Top Performers

Colby Carden – 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals
Alyssa Cagle – 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
Lauren Schletty – 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals 1 block
Peyton Satterfield – 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Emily Seres – 6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist

Bralise Reese – 16 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 1 block
Kamryn Forrester – 10 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
Taylor Reed – 10 points, 4 rebounds
Brittany Burnett – 7 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals

Cherokee County Media Day

Etowah High School hosted Cherokee County Media Day on Tuesday morning. The boys went first for an hour followed by the girls. Much to my chagrin, I was only able to stick around for the boys portion of the event before having to hustle over to the office. Here’s some news and notes from my homeland.



Head Coach: Kingston Clark
Region 4-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 14-15 

How to become a perennial state playoff team in their new region: “We’ve been working out and conditioning. It’s going to be a tough task. We don’t have Wheeler to worry about any more, thank God for that. Milton’s gone, but it’s wide open. One through six, anybody can come up and win the region.”

What the Class of 2017 means to the program: “We have a great group of seniors. Tyreke [Johnson] was First Team All-Region last year, so he actually has something to prove. Brant [Hurter] signed with Georgia Tech already with a baseball scholarship. Cam [Crowe] has had several people looking at him so he has several offers on the table. They have a lot to prove. First and foremost, the very first thing I talked to them about when I walked into Woodstock’s gymnasium, there were no banners on the wall for boys basketball. So that is the number one goal, that those guys want to leave that legacy so they can come back and have something hanging on that wall they can say they played a part of.”



Head Coach: Roger Kvam
Region 4-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 12-14 

On the importance of Phil Cirillo and the senior class: “Phil’s been on the varsity for three years so has Eli [Mayberry] and Jack Carroll, who’s been on for four years, so we have a lot of experience. Jack was on the team as a freshman and actually started. I count on all three of those guys for leadership. Phil is very talented, he can do a lot of different things and play a lot of different positions. We kind of use him like a Queen in chess to do a lot of different things. I feel like we underachieved last year. We were not good on defense and we were kind of selfish on offense and I think we addressed that this summer a little bit.”



Head Coach: Allen Whitehart
Region 4-AAAAAAA
2015-16: 14-14 

How to shape a new winning culture at Etowah: “First and foremost we came in with hard work immediately in the weight room. Most of the kids haven’t really lifted before. I feel like if you can go in there and push through barriers and kind of get a little strain going you can find out about yourself and that translates right over to the floor. We talked about everything being first class. You’ve got to look the part as well as be the part. I was fortunate enough while I was at Buford High School to be around phenomenal coaches: Gene Durden, Jess Simpson, Tony Wolfe and took a little bit from them. I was smart enough to steal a little bit and take some of that with me.”

On Kam Hickey: “He is going to be playing a 3/4 position for us. He’s going to be really counted on to be a mismatch for us for what we do offensively.”

On Lewis Simonson: “He did not play last year but he is going to be counted on as one of our leaders and someone who can knock down shots.”

On Julian Baldwin & Adrian Cohen: “Julian has a chance to have a great year. We really worked hard with his consistency, getting him stronger. His understanding of the game has really come around a lot. I feel like if he continues to improve at the rate he’s improving he will have a chance to have a phenomenal year. Another kid with a chance for a breakout year is Adrian Cohen. Adrian had a phenomenal fall and phenomenal summer on the [AAU] circuit. Again, consistency is something we are preaching with him as well. He has games when he looks like a really high level player. If those four can have consistency, they can really help us go.”



Head Coach: Allen Carden
Region 6-AAAAAA
2015-16: 20-9 

How to build an identity with a young and inexperienced group: “We’ve talked about that from Day 1 in the weight room – our culture is going to be hard work. We are going to identify with being a strong defensive team. We are going to play smart fundamental basketball. We are going to act the right way and do the right things. As much as I talk about defensive rebounding, everybody knows you still have to put the ball in the hole so you’ve got to be strong skill-wise. But identity, we are always going to hang our hat on playing defense.”



Head Coach: Casey Gramling
Region 6-AAAAAA
2015-16: 16-10 

How to become a state playoff team year-in and year-out: “That’s the million dollar question. Of course we want to be there and we do have some good pieces this year and we are trying to make a couple culture changes. One of the things we did was my team didn’t participate in a fall league this year. Now the kids are playing 100 games a year and those 25 games they play for their school just represented other games. We are trying to bring it back to where when they put on a Creekview uniform it means something to them.”

On the continuing emergence of KJ Jenkins: “KJ is a junior point guard, incredibly talented. He will be a third-year varsity player and he’s always had that mentality since he was a younger kid on the team. We are working on with him building that leadership role because this is his team and he’s the point guard. It’s a work in progress and he is doing really well in his new role. The kid can score, he’s smooth. He’s got a great shot, he can defend. We’ve had more college coaches in my gym in the last two months than we’ve had in my last two years I’ve been here. They are coming to watch KJ, they are coming to watch Chandler [Wright] and Weber [Sandlin].”


River Ridge

Head Coach: Ben Farist
Region 6-AAAAAA
2015-16: 8-18 

How to be patient with a young program and find a way to establish itself in a tough region: “I think a lot of it is not only now what we are doing, but investing in our junior program and realizing that they are the future of what we have but coaching who we have now. We aren’t getting any transfers in or anything crazy like that. So control what we can control. Working hard in the weight room to build athletes that we have currently in our program and making the offense more conducive to what we are good at.”

Cobb SSA Fall League Recap

Alpharetta 58, Kell 44

Kell really struggled to get FGCU-commit Brian Thomas the ball
Kell really struggled to get FGCU-commit Brian Thomas the ball

With a handful of important football players not in attendance, Alpharetta led wire-to-wire against Kell. 6-foot-4 senior Garrett Davis got the Raiders off to a quick start, scoring all six of his points in the first half. Davis, a dirty-work type of player, not only found baskets in the paint, but helped defend Florida Gulf Coast-commit Brian Thomas while giving up nearly four inches and 30+ pounds.

Davis along with 6-foot-3 junior forward Ryan Jenei kept a body on the 6-foot-8 big man throughout the game and didn’t give him any easy looks. Thomas was held to six points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as the Raiders forced the Kell guards to try and beat them.

Alpharetta held a 14-6 lead and took off once Westlake transfer Brandon Barron was inserted into the game. The 5-foot-10 sophomore point guard took over in the first half scoring 12 of his game-high 15 points.

Barron created off the dribble, showing a quick first step to get past defenders.

Barron got to the basket, stopped on a dime from the mid-range and even floated a teardrop over the elite shot blocker Thomas. Once Barron came in off the bench, the Alpharetta offense really started to click as he got open looks for Jenei, who hit two threes in the first half and finished with 10 points.

The Raiders held a 34-22 lead at the half and never let Kell back into the game. Junior point guard Jahwan Smith totaled seven points and three assists and Caelon Ball got hot down the stretch, hitting two late threes and finishing with 10 points and four rebounds but it wasn’t enough. Alpharetta’s guards protected the ball and won their individual battles on defense as the Raiders came away with 10 steals led by senior guard Jaylen Young’s five. Young also added six points and five rebounds. Senior David Swillum netted nine points and battled on the glass with seven rebounds.

Junior RJ Pass provided steady guard play and senior Tariq Latchison gave Alpharetta a boost with his hustle off the bench.

Kell could not establish Thomas inside, but it wasn’t all his fault. Too many entry passes were thrown away errantly either too high or too low. Whenever Thomas did get a clean ball, Alpharetta crashed down and physically put a body on him. For the Longhorns to build on their 16-win season, working on getting the ball to Thomas on the low block will be a priority. Feeding Thomas will help loosen up the perimeter defense to give players like Ball, Smith and Demetris Page open looks.

 Lovett 69, Woodstock 59

Dylin Hardeman created opportunities for others, picking up 5 assists
Dylin Hardeman created opportunities for others, picking up 5 assists

Both Lovett and Woodstock were far from full strength thanks to football season with the Wolverines missing juniors Dominic Hewitt, Noah Frith and Sid Mesumbe while 6-foot-4 D-I hopeful guard senior Tyreke Johnson and junior Quentin Doby were not there as well. Lovett was missing a handful of football players too, highlighted by sharpshooter Crawford Schwieger, Nick Jackson, Peyton Ringer and Evan McKown out, meaning only sophomore point guard Ryan Greer was on the floor with any significant varsity experience.

Greer proved to be more than enough for the Lions.

The super sophomore tormented Woodstock with a silky touch and a red-hot motor that saw him collect eight rebounds in the first five minutes of the game alone. Greer finished with 32 points (20 in the second half), 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. His poise with the ball and all-around winning mentality consumed the game.

Greer scored from all over the floor, but he’s at his best attacking the basket. He’s not afraid to mix it up with the bigs inside and has crafty finishes around the hoop. While his mid-range game was on point all night, Woodstock hung around and never let in.

Georgia Tech baseball-commit 6-foot-6 left-handed senior Brant Hurter came out firing. He scored nine points in the first half with his soft touch from the block and the high post and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Lions held a 27-22 advantage at the half before Greer and senior Ryan Pate turned on the afterburners. Pate, a seldom used guard last year, put on a shooting display in Schwieger’s absence, playing Greer’s right-hand man knocking down three first half threes and finishing with five on the night en route to 20 points, five rebounds and three steals. The two combined for 31 points in the second half.

At the 9:50 mark it looked like the Lions were going to race away from the Wolverines but instead Woodstock’s role players took aim. Sophomore Chris Carroll bombed a three followed by a Nate Garner triple, making it 51-45 with nine minutes to play. Greer pushed the Lions ahead 56-45 with 7:23 to play and managed to hold off Woodstock.

Both teams have used the Fall League to build depth and it shows.

Pate looks like a valuable piece from the perimeter when he’s on target, giving Greer another option next to Schwieger from deep. Woodstock received 11 points apiece from Carroll and Garner, a junior. Cameron Crowe struggled early, but came on strong late, the 6-foot-6 forward finishing with nine points and five rebounds. Dylin Hardeman wasn’t hunting his shot in Johnson’s absence and instead helped out in other ways with a team-high five assists.

Georgia State Team Camp Session II Analysis P. III

Head Turner

Avery Wilson of Forest Park can flat out score the ball. I said he was 6-foot-1 in my preview, but after shaking hands with him and meeting him face to face, he’s closer to 6-foot-3 or maybe 6-foot-4 on a good day. Stock up. The explosive guard didn’t play in the first half in a loss to Westminster but decided to give it a go in the second half.

Wilson was nursing a beat up ankle but that didn’t stop him from making an immediate impact. His first two touches in the second half? Two layups in a row, charging his way down the lane. Wilson wasn’t done there. Not just a put-your-head-down-and-attack guy, Wilson banged in three threes including a four-point play. He finished with 14 points, three rebounds and one steal in one half of work. Not bad, considering he hurt his ankle late in the game and did not re-enter. He’s healthy now and will continue to get buckets his senior season. Don’t sleep on the kid from Forest Park.

Bright Future

With Malik Beasley being the 19th pick in the NBA Draft, Kaiser Gates entering year two at Xavier, 6-foot-7 forward Chance Anderson gone to San Francisco and Kobi Simmons off to Arizona after a McDonald’s All-American career, one would think the St. Francis dynasty would finally be entering its twilight right? You might want to hold off on those predictions because Coach Drew Catlett is enamored with his group, especially his young talent that has worked its way up through the pipelines.

Freshmen Dwon Odom and Chase Ellis are ready to make an impact. Odom at 6-foot-2 but still room to grow a few more inches, is a freakish athlete that has had a great year. The 6-foot-2 Ellis might not have quite the athleticism or ceiling as Odom, but he is an elite scorer, pumping in over 1,000 points over his middle school career.

Final Four

Miller Grove 27, Cedar Shoals 24

Bucket-getter extraordinaire Tae Hardy poured in 13 points and three steals, including the game-clinching steal and dunk at the buzzer. Kevin Paige continued his strong camp with four rebounds and two blocks. Cedar Shoals received 12 points from Snipe Hall and five rebounds. Phlan Fleming finished with six points and three boards.

Woodstock 28, Parkview 27 

Cam Chavers, last season’s leading scorer for the Panthers as a sophomore, dropped in nine points and talented sophomore point guard Jamiel Wright added six points but the Wolverines were able to hold on. Late blooming post, 6-foot-5 senior Cameron Crowe was able to negate Ahmir Langlais’ dominance inside (four points) and outscored him with seven points of his own. Noah Frith, an active 6-foot-4 junior when healthy, tagged on six points in the win.


Miller Grove 35, Woodstock 18
Kevin Paige and Cameron Crowe battled inside. Both players saw their stock rise at GSU
Kevin Paige and Cameron Crowe battled inside. Both players saw their stock rise at GSU

The 7-time state champion Wolverines raced out to a 9-0 lead against the first time in 20 years state playoff berth Wolverines and never looked back on their way to the Session II title. Jalen Mason, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, poured in 11 points for Miller Grove. I liked what Mason did over the course of camp as an active defender on the perimeter that keyed a lot of breakouts over the weekend. Tae Hardy scored six in the win and Kevin Paige corralled six rebounds.

For Woodstock, Tyreke Johnson did everything he could to lead the Wolverines. Johnson, who had a strong showing at Kennesaw State Elite Camp which led to an invite back to practice with KSU, continued his hot summer. The 6-foot-4 guard netted 11 points in the loss. Cameron Crowe performed admirably against the bulkier Miller Grove front line coming up with three blocks.