By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
News and notes from Class A basketball …
St. Francis stumbles on way to Wesleyan rematch. St. Francis, ranked No. 2, will most likely drop a bit in the polls after a 50-48 loss to No. 3 Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy last week. SACA may have had a bit more riding on the game as the Warriors were seeking payback for a 54-29 thumping at the hands of the Knights during a tournament in Florida over the holiday break. In that game, junior guard Nigia Green, who transferred from SACA to St. Francis last summer, scored 19 points. SACA (18-4) will probably take the No. 2 slot in the rankings behind No. 1 Wesleyan (17-3), whose only losses this season have come to teams from other states. St. Francis will host Wesleyan on Feb. 7 to decide the regular season champion in the B Division of subdivided Region 5. Wesleyan won the first game, 67-54, Jan. 20.
SACA wants its shot at Wesleyan. When you’re on top, everybody wants a piece of you. Three-time state champion Wesleyan knows this as much as anyone. So far no team in Georgia has been up to the challenge, including Region 5 rival St. Francis. But after Southwest Atlanta Chrisitian Academy edged St. Francis last week, SACA head coach Jackie Cowan thinks her club might be ready for the Wolves. “I think so,” she said after the Warriors drilled Strong Rock (13-4) Friday night, 67-32. “We have to stay focused and keep playing hard. I think we have the pieces in place.” SACA’s already solid front court, paced by forwards Amy Griffin and Amber Brown, will get huge lift soon when junior center Alexis Carter joins the line up after recovering from off season knee surgery. In the back court, the Warriors are led by senior point guard Brandy Wilkey, along with sophomore Marquita Daniels and freshman Tori Dozier.
North Cobb Christian still perfect. It’s starting to become even more evident that the state’s top ranked team will be undefeated when region tournaments begin next month. North Cobb Christian (21-0) withstood a solid test from Cobb County rival Mt. Paran Christian (16-4), 65-49, Friday night. NCC beat Mt. Paran by eight earlier this season, and led by just one late in the first half of Friday’s game. But a 14-2 run in the third quarter, keyed by sophomore guard Stephon Jelks, put the game away for NCC. Jelks, who is already getting looks from top-20 Division I programs, led all scorers with 23 points. The combined records of NCC’s last four regular season opponents is just 28-40, which includes McCallie Academy of Chattanooga, which is 13-1.
Top 10 showdown to settle Region 9A. Barring a monumental upset this week, Whitefield Academy (15-3), ranked No. 2, and sixth-ranked Landmark Christian (15-1) will meet Feb. 7 at Landmark to decided the regular season Region 9 champion. Landmark hasn’t lost since its season opener, a 58-56 decision to Class AAA Woodward Academy (14-6). Whitefield’s only losses have come at the hands of Class AAAAA McEachern, 58-55, and to Enterprise (Ala.) and Hillcrest (S.C.), whose combined record is 36-8. Landmark is led by 6-foot-8 forward Houston Kessler, who has offers from a dozen mid-major programs and is being recruited by Georgia and Auburn, while Whitefield is led by 6-4 shooting guard Kenneth Gaines, who has committed to Georgia.