By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here are some items of note as basketball season begins to get underway:
W.D. Mohammed finally starts fast. After starting a combined 0-31 the past four seasons, W.D. Mohammed has won its first three games thus far. The Caliphs’ longest winless streak to begin a season was 18 to start the 2007-08 campaign. But they are 3-0 largely on the play of guard Jihad Hameen. Last week, the junior scored a career-high 27 points in a 64-61 win over Class AA’s Maynard Jackson and scored 22 points with a school record 10 steals in a 61-19 win over Strong Rock.
Early struggles for top teams. Four teams considered by many to be among the best in Class A are struggling out of the gate. Wesleyan (1-2), Aquinas (1-2), Providence Christian (1-2) and Paidea (1-3) are a combined 4-9. But that’s mostly due to the fact that all four are testing themselves against larger schools, as all nine of the losses have come to teams from larger classifications.
Top performers. Claxton senior point guard LaBron Glover is the leading scorer in Class A after one full week of games, averaging 21 points in the Tigers’ (2-1) first three contests. Nigel Jackson, St. Francis’ 6-7 senior center is the leading rebounder averaging 10 through four games for the Knights.
Holy Innocents, SACA out of the gate. After ending their seasons on disappointing notes, Holy Innocents and Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy are starting this season like gangbusters. SACA, which finished 24-5 last season, but fell to Pace Academy in the preliminary round of the state playoffs, is 3-1 after wins over three teams from larger classifications — Southwest DeKalb (55-33), Campbell (64-50) and Sandy Creek (56-32). The Warriors’ only loss is to Texas power Lincoln of Dallas (55-39). Holy Innocents, which lost its final three games of last season, is 4-1 to start the year with the lone loss coming to St. Francis.
Speaking of St. Francis. The Knights could be one of the few teams in Georgia that may be able to challenge Wesleyan this season. They have started the season 3-1 with the only loss coming to Hoover of Alabama (62-52), which features four Division I signees and is ranked in the top 10 nationally in several polls. Junior guard Nigia Greene was the game’s high scorer with 27 points in the loss to the Bucs.