AAAAA basketball blog: Westlake’s guard play ‘best in the state,’ coach says

Two years ago, Westlake’s boys basketball team made the state final against Milton and might’ve won, except that state player-of-the-year Marcus Thornton injured his ankle in warm-ups and hardly played.

This year, Westlake (16-2, 10-0) is under the radar without a player the stature of the 6-8 Thornton, now a Georgia sophomore, but ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA. The team all but clinched the regular-season title in Region 2 on Tuesday with an 81-58 victory over M.L. King (14-6, 6-3).

“We were using that game to give us an idea of where we are,’’ coach Darron Rogers said. “I know they’ve got us ranked real high, but I didn’t know how they’d respond to a competitor that’s about equal to us. They’ve got good guards, post play, good coaching. It was a hostile environment. I think we performed like one of the top teams in state.’’

Tony Bagtas, a 5-10 junior, is Rogers’ top gun, averaging 21.5 points and seven assists. He was a part-time starter on Westlake’s 2010 runner-up team as a freshman. He’s being recruited by LSU, Tennessee and Georgia, among others.

In Tuesday’s game, Bagtas had 11 assists and 20 points. Keenan Williams scored 22. Jeremy Postell, the team’s tallest starter at 6-6, scored 18.

Westlake’s three main guards are Bagtas, Williams and Jalen Cummings, none taller than 6-1. Williams is a good perimeter shooter, Cummings the team’s top defender. The top guards off the bench are Christopher Thornton (no relation to Marcus), Cameron Carter and sophomore point Logan McIntosh.

‘’I think our guard play is the best in the state,’’ Rogers said. ‘’I don’t think Milton or anyone across the state has better guards. We’ve got three guys that can really go and three on the bench that can start for anybody.’’

The bigs are Postell, Myles Mann and Andre Elam, all 6-6. Postell is more of a combo guard who can shoot the 3 or play inside. Elam and Mann are key rebounders and shot blockers.

Rogers says he’s got a deep, athletic, defensive-minded team with an elite point guard to run things. Bagtas could be the key.

‘’He’s the best ball-handler in the state hands down, he can shoot the 3 from NBA range, and he’s hitting 90 percent of his free throws,’’ Rogers said of his floor leader. “Because of the 3, you have to come up and guard him, and if you foul him, he’s going to make his free throws. And his assists are spectacular.’’

McEachern’s girls pushed by North Cobb

Only one Georgia team has come within 10 points of beating No. 1 McEachern (19-0, 9-0) this season, and that team – North Cobb – has done it twice now. Playing without injued guard Te’a Cooper, McEachern beat North Cobb 64-61 on Tuesday. Pachiyaanna Roberts scored 30 points and had 14 rebounds for McEachern, which beat North Cobb (14-7, 6-4) only 50-41 on Dec. 9. McEachern had won six straight Region 4 games by at least 30 points.

One point separates Wheeler-Walton, again

Wheeler (10-7, 8-0) escaped Tuesday with a 72-71 victory over Walton (10-10, 2-5) by going 5-for-5 at the free throw line in the final minute. Walton (10-10, 2-5) has been disappointing in Region 4 but played Wheeler close this season. The score of the Dec. 9 game also was 72-71.

Nolte closing in on 100th win as starter

Milton’s 84-48 victory over Northview on Tuesday marked the 99th win as a starter for senior Evan Nolte, the Virginia signee who has played in three state championship games. Milton’s record with Nolte as a starter is 99-19. Three of those losses were forfeited wins earlier this season.

24 comments Add your comment

LSU Tiger

January 25th, 2012
9:22 pm

Westlake is good and can’t take nothing from them but they are in a very weak region. Will they be able to hang with a team like Milton who has played much tougher competition? The region play is much tougher in the North.

Daniel Bagtas

January 25th, 2012
10:59 pm

LSU Tiger.. I do want to say region 2 AAAAA does have some very good teams. Westlake, MLK, Langston Hughes, and Luella are very good teams and have all been ranked in the top 10 in either AJC or Ga prepcountry. Also, Newton is a very disciplined team who could easily beat any team at any given time.

Daniel Bagtas

January 26th, 2012
12:16 am

I forgot to mention.. Congratulations to Evan Nolte on 100 wins as a starter. He has had an incredible high school career and it is so well deserved. A great kid from a great family.

Treysean Brown

January 26th, 2012
2:22 am

Shout out to the most underated player in the nation Tony Bagtas. Should be top 10 in espnu super 60. best pg in Georgia hands down truely no one can guard him 22 and 7 on a loaded team defines that statement. get in front of him he will tim hardaway you, step back he will steve nash you. foul him its automatic oh did i forget to mention the john stockton style court vision and passes, with an kobe bryant/gymrat type work ethic this kid is absolutely the next great thing. with all those elements and a great father @daniel bagtas pushing and motivating him to succeed. He has no choice but to be great. Keep up the good work tony! and @lsutiger watch them in the playoffs record speaks for itself dude.

Daniel Bagtas

January 26th, 2012
8:08 am

@Treysean – Wow, I’d like to meet the player you are talking about! lol But seriously, Tony has a long ways to go but I am very proud of him and thanks for the kind words. I have to say this because I am proud of this team… they also have a long ways to go but they’ve surprised a lot of people.. including me. These kids play hard and when they play together, are a very good team. Hopefully, they come to play the rest of the year because they have some tough games coming up.

@LSU Tiger – I was only referring to the region games. I do know Milton has played and won at least two top national tournaments. They are a very good team filled with some great players. I probably shouldn’t have come on here but I’m sure you know why from a deleted post earlier. People can critique my son’s game or lack of game all they want but I couldn’t allow someone to just say things that are factually not true.

Coach'sson

January 26th, 2012
9:40 am

2-AAAAA is a very strong region one of the strongest regions top to bottom. Milton may play in one of the weakest region in AAAAA. But Westlake has beaten some very good teams. In the New York Shooutout and in Memphis. We played the best private school in tenessee with 6′10 duke recruit without our #1 scorer Keenan Williams and only lost at the end. We beat Fayette County by 20 as our first game of the season, so we have played very good competition. I went to Westlake in 03 and i think Tony Bagtas can go down as the best point guard to ever come through Westlake, and thats saying a lot. We have the most depth in the state at guard. This team is destined for greatness if they keep playing scrappy defense!!!!!

Tony

January 26th, 2012
10:51 am

Westlake’s backcourt is solid and deep. But, best in the state?

If they make it as far as Milton, we’ll see how they deal with the “nightmare matchup”, Charles Mann.

LSU Tiger

January 26th, 2012
11:03 am

Well we will have to agree to disagree. Those teams are good but pretty much anyone will tell you its not the same level of competition as the North. Norcross and North Gwinnett have tougher region play and Milton has had to play some of the toughest competition in the country.

Daniel Bagtas

January 26th, 2012
11:38 am

I’m not disagreeing with you. I do think Milton has played some of the toughest competition in the country. I also think a region with Norcross, North Gwinnett, Mill Creek, and Peachtree Ridge is an extremely tough region. Just saying region 2 isn’t an easy region and each game is tough. Good luck on the rest of your season. The state and region tournaments are going to get real interesting this year.

VernC

January 27th, 2012
12:32 am

Thanks for the mention of North Cobb. McEachern is a Great team and we look forward to battling them. I am proud of the way our girls compete against them. By the way, we are 14-6 not 14-7. Having to play McEachern and Hillgrove is like being in the SEC in football and prepares us for the State Playoffs. Pachiyanna is a BEAST!!.Go Lady Warriors.

North Cobb fan

January 27th, 2012
1:11 am

North Cobb’s record is (14-6, 6-3). They only have three region losses. I am so proud of our girls. They play in the hardest region in the state.

b ball fan

January 28th, 2012
2:44 pm

Enter your comments here

b ball fan

January 28th, 2012
2:54 pm

I saw mlking play at the converse tournament at Columbia high and was not impressed on the least. GA fans need to admit that the talent in state is not what it once was. Just look at the polls on the state and you have ranked teams with 6,7,8 and even 9 losses. Miller groove beat up Milton in their but can’t beat an out of state team. the talent odd down, you are just going to have to learn to live with out.

drew

January 29th, 2012
1:18 am

Region 2 is da best region in 5A ball and maybe da state. The westlake guards are good but not great. Bagtas is a solid guard and is not the best guard in da state that goes Tajh Shasmid Deen from Columbia.

drew

January 29th, 2012
1:20 am

With a sixth place team like Stephenson beating Norcross goes to show how strong Region 2 is.

Thoroughbred

January 30th, 2012
9:44 pm

What else is new? Westlake is good every year. They are a Georgia powerhouse. Besides that they do it without recruiting. That’s what I like about them.

Insidelookingout

January 31st, 2012
1:57 am

Westlake recruits too. No big deal though. Everyone does. I don’t know of one sports program at any high school that doesn’t recruit a player.

Insidelookingout

January 31st, 2012
1:59 am

Westlake is a regular season powerhouse. U have to win the big one to be a powerhouse. Don’t recall westlake winning one

Coach'sson

February 1st, 2012
9:57 am

westlake defiently doesnt recruit. Recruiting is coercing a kid to come to your school either giving them money, providing them a place to stay, or giving there parent or guardian a job. Westlake has never in the history of our program done any of those things while head coach Darron Rogers been there. Westlake is the winningest program in the state since 1999. Two state championships, a state record 33-0 season 4 final fours, 2 state runner-ups. 2 Mr. Ga!!!!!!!

Pee

February 1st, 2012
3:29 pm

Ever since Coach Rodgers has been at Westlake, the problem has never been their basketball program.

Insidelookingout

February 1st, 2012
6:59 pm

Wow coach’s son 10 years ago and they still a powerhouse. That opens the door for everyone then. If that’s the case I guess mays is still a powerhouse. But I respect the record. But let’s get something recent. Your probably going to say west lake was there in 2010. True but your ms ga got hurt, who knows how. I think he’s hurt again at UGA.

Benjamin Mitchell

February 2nd, 2012
6:38 am

I don’t know about Westlake having the best Guard Play in the State. Johnson High school in Savannah Ga Might have the best Guard play in GA. Tim Quaterman 6′6 Jr. Point Guard that avg. 20 points, 8 rebounds,9 assists a game. and keme Davis a 6′3 senior who average 17 points a game. not to many teams in the state ga has what johnson high has in guard play.

SWDFan

February 3rd, 2012
3:07 pm

Congrats Tony keep up the good work!!

South Ga. Basketball

February 13th, 2012
9:34 am

When you say ‘Best Guards In The State”, you must be talking about the state of NORTH GEORGIA? Tift County and Valdosta have some pretty good guards that can shoot and defend!!!