Another Atlanta team bids for mythical national championship in high school basketball

Miller Grove High has overtaken Milton as Georgia’s best hope for a mythical national championship this season in high school basketball.

Miller Grove is the two-time defending Class AAAA state champion and coming off the biggest non-playoff achievement in the DeKalb program’s history. Last weekend, Miller Grove won the championship at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., — generally considered the nation’s second-best holiday tournament.

“With the size and depth that Miller Grove has … gosh, it wouldn’t surprise me –if they continue playing the way they have — if they ended up as the mythical national champions,” Columbia High coach Phil McCrary said.

The Beach Ball Classic put Miller Grove on the map, if they weren’t there already. The Wolverines began to turn heads nearly a month ago when they pulled off a 71-61 upset over Milton, leading by as many as 24 points in the second half. It was the first loss for Milton, which began the season ranked No. 1 in several national polls.

The Wolverines have propelled in polls, reaching as high as No. 3 in USA Today. Coach Sharman White isn’t ready to make any grand proclamations but is appreciative of recognition.

“Our goals were to start out this season and see how far we could go nationally … but we didn’t say anything about any mythical national championships,” White said.

“We just want to see how far we can go and try to achieve more than we did last year. So far, so good, but we’ve got a long ways to go with a tough schedule ahead.”

Miller Grove’s 12-0 start hasn’t been as easy as it would appear. Brandon Morris made a shot at the buzzer to escape with a 66-64 win over Columbia. Twice at Beach Ball Classic, Miller Grove had to pull out victories in overtime.

“No, I didn’t see them being 12-0 … I figured they would have one loss — and that would be to us,” McCrary said with a laugh. Columbia, the defending Class AAA champion, blew a 6-point lead in the final 1:09 of regulation.

“The only way I can explain is that we go out on the court every game expecting to win,” Morris said. “There are great expectations on us because of the past two years and we want to meet them. Or, well, beat them.”

Miller Grove’s stellar start looked even more impressive after the holidays. Columbia went on to win the Arby’s Classic, while Milton finished as runner-up at the City of Palms — considered the No. 1 holiday tournament.

Some people look at Miller Grove as a one-man team with Tony Parker, the U.S. Junior Olympian who is nearly impossible to stop in the post area. He had 61 rebounds over a three-game stretch in the Beach Ball Classic, including a career-high 27 in the semifinals. The 6-foot-8, 270-pound Parker averages 19 points and 16 rebounds.

“I will put it this way — Tony takes up a lot of space in the middle,” McCrary said. “Let’s say that Tony is the engine of that team. But you’ve got to have the pistons and sparkplugs — the other players — all running on the same cylinders for that engine to be able to move. He has the right pieces around him.”

Miller Grove has a frontline that is the envy of many colleges. Parker is surrounded on both sides by 6-7 forwards Henry Brooks and Brandon Morris. Brooks had 20 points in the Beach Ball Classic championship when defenders collapsed on Parker, while Morris has superior athleticism, winning the tournament’s slam-dunk contest.

Shooting guard Davante Provost is responsible for defending the opposing team’s top scorer, while point guard Thomas Marshall may be most underrated at his position in Georgia, according to his coach. Miller Grove goes 9-10 players deep on the bench, and at least six team members have either been offered or are under consideration for major-college scholarships.

Miller Grove’s early success has led many to ask this question: How does this group compare to the past two title teams?

“This team has more experience than the other teams because many of these players were part of those championship runs,” White said. “As far as talent, this group ranks up there. That team two years ago had some great ones on it.

“The thing about this year’s group is because they’ve been in the program, they have benefitted from the success of those [former] players laying down the foundation. They know about the hard work expected out of them on a year-round basis to be successful, and that’s give them an edge.”

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10 comments Add your comment

Ted Striker

January 7th, 2011
10:45 am

All championships are mythical unless there’s a playoff. (This is aimed at the BCS).

coach

January 7th, 2011
11:10 pm

National champs. Is it fair for schol like oak hill to be considered a high school. I mean come on it’s not really a high school. ga needs to have a championship by their classes, then let the champs play for a Ga championship. Betcha all AAAAA schools will not win every time. Funny how MGHS and CHS was battling for Parker. He should have playedat Stephenson along with Trey and Aminu. Imagine how many championships Stephenson would have won!!!!

Landmark C

January 8th, 2011
9:01 am

if Miller Grove played Milton 5 times this season would Milton win a game?

curiousmind

January 8th, 2011
10:08 am

Coach, did one of your players tranfer to MGHS or CHS? Why some much hatred toward two of the well repected programs in DCSS.

WheelerFan #2

January 8th, 2011
2:10 pm

Landmark- yes milton could beat miller grove if they played 5 times…they looked pretty darn good in the city of palms tourney

Hoops Fan

January 8th, 2011
3:42 pm

Landmark- I agree with Wheeler Fan, Milton has been looking great lately and played a bunch of tough teams at City of Palms. I’d give them at least 3 out of 5 against MG

coach

January 8th, 2011
4:02 pm

well if you want to know, I was at a nearby school and sthletes told me that coaches called them and publicly recruited them. But they never got my players, but it looks like some other players are taken. I will never respect people that run dirty programs. If MGHS, is respected why did the coach get suspended. I dont hate anyone, but there is no secret around Dekalb of whats going on. The only people that agree with them are the fans, so it is what it is. U can respect them, but I knowthe truth and will stand on it.

Landmark C

January 9th, 2011
9:30 am

getting back to the Miller Grove vs. Milton match-up…when comparing the top 6 players from each team, how do they match-up? Interested in hearing your opinions!

curiousmind

January 9th, 2011
10:42 am

Coach if you feel as though MGHS coach is recruiting then voice your thoughts to the AD of the school system. I find it hard to believe the coach at CHS would be on the phone or asking players to transfer. Who would want to transfer to colslumbia.

juggiche

February 17th, 2012
6:43 am