Archive for December, 2011

Class A Basketball Blog: Turner County stuns Wilkinson County, ends prolific win streak

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Turner County stuns Wilkinson County. Taking a page from the old adage that begins, “If a tree falls in the forest …,” the biggest upset of the season took place last week and there was hardly anything said or reported about it. Unranked Turner County (7-0) hammered Class A’s top-ranked team, previously unbeaten Wilkinson County, 73-56, last week AT The Palace at Wilkinson County. The Indians, one of the top programs in the state, were the defending state champs and were riding a 36-game winning streak. They were 65-1 going back to the 2009-10 season.

But upon further examination, the win wasn’t quite as big an upset as it appears on first glance. Turner County has been one of the state’s most consistent programs, compiling a record of 156-36 going back to the 2005-06 season. Over that period the Rebels have played for the state title twice (2008 and 2009), and advanced to the state Final Four (2007), Elite Eight (2011) and the …

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AAAAA basketball blog: Shiloh faces top Alabama team; Norcross beats No. 2 team in country

Shiloh, Georgia’s top boys team so far in Class AAAAA, is back in action this week at Centennial, which is host to the Hoops in Overdrive tournament Friday and Saturday.

Shiloh (8-0) will play Carver of Montgomery on Friday in the 8:30 p.m. game. Carver was a Class 6A semifinal team in Alabama last season and features blue-chip guard Craig Sword, who has signed with Mississippi State, and 6-foot-6 forward Jeremy Johnson, who has an offer from Auburn.

Shiloh’s top player is 6-foot-8 Robert Carter, a Georgia Tech signee. Shiloh will play Rockdale County on Saturday. (See the Hoops in Overdrive schedule below.)

Another game of interest at Centennial will be Mary Persons against Osborne on Saturday at 7 p.m. Mary Persons’ top player is 6-7 forward Brannen Greene, a junior who recently committed to Kansas.

In Raleigh this week, Wheeler’s boys are playing in the 40-year-old Holiday Invitational and opened Wednesday against Kinston of North Carolina. This site …

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AA basketball blog: East Hall’s Jackson reaches milestone

Morgan Jackson scored her 1,000th career point during the Lanierland Tournament and helped the No. 10 East Hall girls win the championship.

Jackson, who has signed with Georgia State, scored 34 points in the championship game, a 64-57 win over North Hall. Her clutch shooting helped the Vikings (7-0) erase a 10-point halftime lead and win the Hall County tournament for the second straight year.

Jackson had 27 points and nine rebounds against Johnson and 11 points against Gainesville, when she picked up her 1,000th point. She was an obvious choice for tournament MVP.

The No. 6 East Hall boys lost to Gainesville in the final game.

Tournament News

Undefeated Morgan County is the only Class AA team in the Hoops in Overdrive Shoot-Out on Friday and Saturday at Centennial High School. No. 3 Morgan plays its only game on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. against Lee High School of Alabama. Other Georgia team in the field include host Centennial, Jonesboro, Luella, Rockdale County, Monroe …

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AAA basketball blog: Cartersville girls survive tourney test

With Dalton appearing to be in rebuilding mode after a run to the Class AAA state finals last season, the power in Region 7-AAA may have shifted to Cartersville, where the Hurricanes are 8-2 after beating Class AAAAA Wheeler Tuesday in the first round of the Pickens Holiday Classic in Jasper.

Cartersville coach Donna Enis said she was looking to learn things about her team in the tournament setting, and the intel she got was positive. Cartersville trailed by 12 with six minutes left before. rallying to beat Wheeler 67-61, sparked by 24 points, 10 assists and 2 steals from sophomore guard Kaelyn Irby.

“That was just a really good opportunity for us to play from behind and come away with a win,” said Enis, whose club plays Etowah today and Creekview Thursday. “I thought this would be a measuring stick for us. If we could be competitive playing these bigger schools, I felt good about our chances. If we get a loss, we get a loss. Wheeler gave us an opportunity to see where some …

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AAAA basketball blog: Alcovy, Rockdale County girls remain unbeaten

Holiday tournaments are taking place all over the Southeast this week. Here’s a recap of some of the top action involving Georgia’s Class AAAA teams:

*Peach State Holiday Invitational (at Holy Innocents’): Alcovy and Rockdale County remained undefeated and were part of a 5-1 day for Class AAAA teams in the first round of the 32-team girls tournament on Tuesday. Alcovy used a 26-4 run in the second half and improved to 10-0 with a 56-41 victory over Duluth. Meagan Tucker scored 12 points and Ashley Williams had 11 points and 15 rebounds for Alcovy, which will meet Greater Atlanta Christian in the second round of the White bracket on Wednesday. Rockdale County improved to 8-0 and advanced to a second-round matchup against Region 8-AAAA rival Apalachee with a 66-56 victory over Seneca (S.C.) in the Silver bracket. Other AAAA winners on Tuesday were Forest Park (over Webb School, Tenn.), Apalachee (over Jordan, N.C.) and Northside-Warner Robins (over Dudley, N.C.). Fayette …

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State-championship schools that have closed

Avondale, a school that won state titles in 1958, 1963 and 1976, closed this year. Here are schools that have won GHSA titles and are closed (with the years of their closings and their state titles). It includes Waynesboro, which won a title in 1957. Waynesboro and Sardis-Girard-Alexander merged in 1987 to form Burke County, which won its first state title this season.


Avondale (1958, 1963, 1976)


Americus (1962, 1965, 1975, 2000-01)


Douglass, Montezuma (1981)

Hogansville (1952)


Waycross (1960, 1961, 1977, 1981)


Brown (1949)

East Rome (1978-79)

R.E. Lee (1988)

West Rome (1965, 1982-85)


North Fulton (1966)

Northside, Atlanta (1957)


Palmetto (1982-83)


Rossville (1954-55, 1962)


Murphy (1952)


Lyons (1975)

Waynesboro (1957)


West Point (1948, 1950, 1958)


Davis (1964)


Athens (1955, 1969)

Fort Valley (1948, 1961)

Lincolnton (1960, 1962-63)


Jesup (1954, 1959)


Blakely-Union (1964)


Quitman …

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Coaches who improved their teams the most in 2011

Awards for state coaches of the year typically go to the head coach whose team wins the state championship. There’s nothing wrong with that, as a coach can’t do better than win a state title. But not enough credit goes to those coaches who make teams better from one season to the next.

Bryan Way at Warner Robins didn’t win a state title, but Warner Robins led the state in “victories improved” from 2010 to 2011, going from 2-8 to 11-3. Then there was Mark Wilson at Bryan County. His team went to 6-4 from 0-10.

Below is a list of 10 coaches in each classification who improved their teams. To be objective, we devised a formula to do it. The formula = (number of 2011 victories – number of 2010 victories) + (improvement in winning PCT x 10) + (number of 2011 playoff rounds – number of 2010 playoff rounds).

If it sounds complicated, don’t worry. We did the math.

Just trust that these 50 coaches deserve a raise.




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Early gauge of the new regions: Class A

Here are three observations about the regions that will make up Class A in 2012:

*The regions listed below are based on what is currently proposed by the Georgia High School Association, which is scheduled to meet on Jan. 10 to ratify the regions. There is no way to project any changes the GHSA might make at its executive committee meeting or the impact a much-talked about secession by public schools would have on the region setup.

*The best region, according to the Maxwell Ratings, will be 5-A, which will consist of six football-playing private schools and be the smallest region in Class A. Eagle’s Landing Christian, 2011 runner-up Landmark Christian and Holy Innocents’ are all rated among the top 10 teams in the new Class A.

The chart below might give you a feel for strength of regions and the teams to beat next year.

Make sure you understand how it works:

*The W-L record is each school’s record over the past five years.

*The rating on the right is each team’s …

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2011 leaders in rushing, passing and receiving yardage

Below are the leading rushers, passers and receivers in Georgia high school football for the 2011 season.


2,375 – Tyren Jones, Walton

2,183 – Kevin Ellison, Habersham Central

2,180 – Marteze Waller, Putnam County

2,179 – Chaz Thornton, Stephens County

2,142 – Miles Jones, Allatoona

2,063 – Janier Ferguson, Pepperell

1,928 – Mike Davis, Stephenson

1,839 – Travis Custis, Lovejoy

1,805 – Chris Brown, Seminole County

1,802 – Brendan Douglas, Aquinas

1,790 – Quenshaun Watson, Clarke Central

1,770 – Tre Hamilton, Charlton County

1,738 – Shadrach Thornton, Liberty County

1,706 – Imani Cross, North Hall

1,704 – John Tatum, Eagle’s Landing Christian

1,684 – Marquez Holloway, Carver (Columbus)

1,658 – Voltaire Driver, Bremen

1,622 – Chris Beck, Seminole County

1,615 – Kenyan Drake, Hillgrove

1,564 – Tolerance Shepherd, Fitzgerald

1,561 – Tyshon Dye, Elbert County

1,559 – Lewis Watkins, Glascock County

1,552 – Jayden Compton, Gordon …

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Mustangs gallop to quad meet win

By Score Atlanta

Meadowcreek dominated a quad meet at Douglas County Thursday. The Mustangs beat Villa Rica 63-15, Douglas County 57-20 and Lithia Springs 78-6. Key performers for Meadowcreek included Dante Bennett (120), Rene Deluna (126), Angelo Pineda (132), Alex Steele (160), O.G. Harden (170), Ryan Moore (182) and Alex Lucio (285). … Parkview traveled to Hilton Head, S.C. to participate in the Seahawk Slam last Thursday. Thanks to eight placers, Parkview finished fifth out of 24 teams. Parkview was led by Kamaal Fhakur’s win in the 132-pound class. Khalil Fhakur finished second in the 160-pound class and An Vu (113) and Harrison Schmid (195) each finished fourth. Jordan Matlack (138), Will Anderson (120), Andrew Webb (126) and Edwin Lindsey (145) also helped Parkview with high finishes. … Jefferson will head to Rochester, Minn. for the two-day Clash National Duals Tournament this Friday and Saturday. Jefferson is 8-0 this season in duals meets. Forrest Przybysz is …

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3,000-yard passers in Georgia history

Georgia players who have thrown for more than 3,000 yards in a season, according to

4,560 – Hutson Mason (Lassiter), 2009

4,218 – Taylor Heinicke (Collins Hill), 2010

3,710 – Jeremy Privett (Charlton County), 2003

3,705 – Hutson Mason (Lassiter), 2008

3,638 – Taylor Lamb (Calhoun), 2011

3,612 – Jonquel Dawson (M.L. King), 2010

3,600 – Brian Ellis (Peach County), 2006

3,415 – Jonquel Dawson (M.L. King), 2011

3,358 – Tyler Brown (Colquitt County), 2010

3,351 – Wesley Hill (Crisp County), 2001

3,350 – Eddie Printz (Lassiter), 2011

3,343 – Johnathon McCrary (Cedar Grove), 2010

3,331 – Justin Walker (Lee County), 2010

3,279 – Robert Johnson (Americus), 2000

3,251 – Deshaun Watson (Gainesville), 2011

3,245 – Chad Bryant (Dooly County), 2003

3,187 – Fabian Walker (Americus), 1998

3,172 – Drew Little (Henry County), 2007

3,113 – Joshua Dobbs (Alpharetta), 2011

3,101 – Mashard McKnight (Ware County), 1999

3,091 – Dwight Dasher (Charlton County), 2005

3,090 – Al Pinkins …

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Early gauge of the new regions: Class AA

Here are three observations about the regions that will make up Class AA in 2012:

*Defending state champion Calhoun has won 11 consecutive region titles and appears to be in a good position to extend that streak in 2012. The Yellow Jackets’ region contains no other team rated higher than No. 13 (Pepperell) by the Maxwell Ratings, and Calhoun is 9-0 against Pepperell since 1980.

*The state’s smallest region in any classification will be 6-AA, which will have just five teams. If Hapeville Charter chooses to play a non-region schedule, then Greater Atlanta Christian, Lovett, Westminster and Wesleyan will have automatic playoff berths, although all four teams are regular playoff participants regardless of the size of their regions.

*The strongest region, according to Maxwell, will be 1-AA, which will have perennial playoff teams Fitzgerald, Brooks County, Cook and Thomasville. All four teams are rated among the top nine in Class AA, and Early County is …

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All-class player of the year: Grayson’s Nkemdiche stands out like few others

Grayson football coach Mickey Conn remembers when he decided Robert Nkemdiche was special.

“It was the first time I saw him,’’ Conn said. “He was in the eighth grade. He returned a kickoff about 80 yards. He was 6-4 then, so he was twice the size of everybody on the field, and he could fly. It was pretty obvious.’’

It still is.

At 6-foot-4 ½ and 270 pounds with 4.6 speed over 40 yards, Nkemdiche stands out in a way that few underclassmen or defensive linemen have in Georgia high school football. He’s only the second junior ever to be named the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s all-classification player of the year, an honor first given in 1981. Washaun Ealey of Emanuel County Institute was the first in 2007.

Nkemdiche is the son of Nigerians. His father is a doctor. His mother is a legislator in her native country who returns to Georgia only a few times a year. Their son didn’t start playing football until he was 13.

Five years later, Nkemdiche led Grayson to …

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AAAAA all-state: Walton’s Jones, McEachern’s English are players of year

Tyren Jones, the Walton junior running back who rushed for 2,375 yards and scored 42 touchdowns for a state runner-up, is the AJC’s offensive player of the year in Class AAAAA. The defensive player of the year is McEachern defensive lineman Darius English, who had 21 sacks for a 10-2 team.

Grayson defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche is the all-classificaiton player of the year.

Offensive player of the year: Tyren Jones, Walton
Defensive player of the year: Darius English, McEachern
Coach of the year: Mickey Conn, Grayson
QB – Jonquel Dawson, M.L. King, 5-10, 190, Sr.
RB – Mike Davis, Stephenson, 5-10, 195, Sr.
RB – Tyren Jones, Walton, 5-10, 190, Jr.
WR – Charlie Hegedus, Lassiter, 6-2, 197, Sr.
WR – Blake Tibbs, M.L. King, 6-1, 175, Sr.
TE – Ty Flournoy-Smith, Colquitt County, 6-4, 221, Sr.
OL – Jackson Buonamia, Brookwood, 6-3, 280, Sr.
OL – Bryce Giddens, Colquitt County, 6-0, 280, Sr.
OL – Brandon Kublanow, Walton, 6-3, 295, Jr.
OL – A.J. …

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AAAA all-state: Habersham’s Ellison, Lovejoy’s Hough are players of year

Kevin Ellison, the Habersham Central quarterback who rushed for 2,183 yards and 32 touchdowns, is the AJC’s Class AAAA offensive player of the year. The defensive player of the year is Lovejoy defensive back Jermaine Hough, who had 15 tackles for losses, seven interceptions and five blocked kicks for the top-rated scoring defense in AAAA.

Offensive player of the year: Kevin Ellison, Habersham Central
Defensive player of the year: Jermaine Hough, Lovejoy
Coach of the year: Al Hughes, Lovejoy
QB – Kanler Coker, Flowery Branch, 6-4, 217, Sr.
RB – Shadrach Thornton, Liberty County, 6-1, 200, Sr.
RB – Quenshaun Watson, Clarke Central, 5-10, 175, Sr.
WR – Miles Everett, Pope, 5-10, 165, Sr.
WR – Andrej Suttles, East Paulding, 5-10, 180, Sr.
TE – Larry Jefferson, Banneker, 6-3, 215, Sr.
OL – Nick Brigham, Marist, 6-4, 280, Sr.
OL – Freddie Burden, Statesboro, 6-3, 295, Sr.
OL – Greg Farms, Warner Robins, 6-6, 320, Sr.
OL – Dominique Threatt, …

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