Archive for January, 2012

Class A Basketball Blog: Two-sport standouts, Harris leads Macon County girls

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

News and notes from Class A basketball …

BOYS

Football players key to teams’ basketball success. While many high school athletes have decided to forgo other sports in order to devote time to perfecting their skills in one, there are still thousands of multi-sport athletes doing big things. Here are three football players who are making big contributions on the basketball court. Let us know who else (boys and girls) needs to be on this list:

Rashard Fant, Our Lady of Mercy. The 5-foot.-10, 160-pound junior point guard is averaging 15 points and eight assists to just two turnovers per game for the Bobcats (11-6). Fant is one of the state’s most dynamic playmakers in football scoring 15 touchdowns this season from six different positions – kickoff returner, punt returner, running back, receiver, Wildcat quarterback and corner back (interception return). In footbal Fant is being recruited by Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech and North …

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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 …

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AA basketball blog: Laney boys, girls proving to be a threat

Laney has established itself as a contender in both boys and girls basketball this season. The boys are ranked seventh and the girls are ranked fourth. Both have seized control of Region 3 Subregion A.

On Tuesday the Laney girls (19-1) won their 16th straight game by swamping Jefferson County 81-45. The Wildcats field a balanced attack led by Jermeka Gibson and DeKoya Mack and some tough inside defenders in Simone Smith and Khadijah Cave.Mack had 25 points in Saturday’s rout against Butler.

The Laney boys (16-3) have won eight straight games and Saturday stepped up in class to rally from 11 points down to beat Butler 56-51 and avenge one of their earlier losses. Jammie West has been the offensive catalyst for the Wildcats; he had 29 points and made six crucial free throws down he stretch against Butler.The boys rebounded from the emotional win to take a 58-48 subregion road win on Tuesday at Jefferson County. Raheem Newton scored 18, with Shaquille Cook and Curtis Hightower …

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AAAA basketball blog: Douglas County boys, girls prepare for showdown with Osborne

The Douglas County boys and girls teams tuned up for their big Region 5-AAAA showdown with Osborne at home on Friday with lopsided victories Tuesday night against Paulding County.

Douglas County’s boys, ranked No. 6 in Class AAAA, bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 93-64 victory in Tuesday’s game. The top-ranked Douglas County girls beat Paulding County 70-43.

Douglas County’s boys are 19-1 overall and lead 5-AAAA with a 10-0 region record. The Tigers were upset by Lithia Springs 79-78 on Saturday on a layup by Femi Ojuolape at the buzzer. Douglas County has averaged 90 points in its past 10 games and scored 100 or more points four times during that stretch.

The No. 10 Osborne boys were 17-2 overall and second in the region at 8-1 going into their game on Tuesday against South Paulding. The Cardinals, who were 9-17 last season and have not had a winning record since going 15-12 in 2008-09, are seeking their first state tournament berth since …

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AAA basketball blog: Westover D’s up

The Westover girls went to the third round of the state tournament last year, and even with the loss of two starters who transferred, it seemed obvious they’d be good again.

The way Westover coach Lewis Smith talks, though, a 20-0 start wasn’t really what he expected.

“We replaced those two startes with some sophomores, and it’s a big deal for them,” said Smith, whose team improved to 20-0 overall and 8-0 in Region 1-AAA with a 51-41 win over Dougherty Tuesday night. “They’re in a little over their head, because we’ve kind of thrown them into the fire.”

How have they done it? By employing the three four D’s: DyTiesha Dunson, defense and determination.

Dunson, a senior who has signed with Florida Gulf Coast University, is averaging 24 points per game and burned Tift County with 35 in a win Saturday. Classmate Ieshia Young averages 14.

Smith points to the defense as the key. The Westover girls have held 13 of 20 opponents under 40 points.,

“Defensively we’re …

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Basketball: Milton 84, Northview 48

Milton’s three-year run of reaching the state finals ended last season in an upset loss to Norcross that ushered out three all-state seniors.

Nearly a year later, it looks like it might’ve been just the closing of one era, the start of another one just as good.

Evan Nolte, the lone starter remaining from the 2010 Class AAAAA champions and 2009 and 2011 runners-up, scored 21 points Tuesday in No. 1-ranked Milton’s 84-48 victory over Northview that put the Eagles (16-4, 8-0) within a win of clinching the regular-season championship of Region 6-AAAAA.

Northview (12-6, 5-3) had been Milton’s top region challenger and was within 33-28 at halftime, but Milton scored the first 11 points of the second half, nine by Nolte, and Northview never made another run.

Milton has won 12 straight games since a 4-4 start.

‘’We were at a crossroads,’’ Boyd said of the early-season tribulations that included three forfeits over star guard Charles Mann’s eligibility. “When you …

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Jefferson wins Sham Slam

By Stephen Black

Score Atlanta

Class AA state duals champion Jefferson won the 36-team Sham Slam at Habersham Central Saturday. Gwinnett County champion Archer finished second while Class AAA state duals champion Gilmer finished third. North Gwinnett finished fifth at the meet, with Hunter Franklin (113 lbs.) and Alex Stoehr (285 lbs.) winning individual titles. … Holy Innocents’ hosted the Clinch Gear Prep Slam over the weekend and the host Golden Bears finished 10th in the tournament, the best finish of any Georgia participant. The two-day event saw 44 teams from 12 states travel to Holy Innocents’ to take part. Jason Grimes (170) and Lee Davis (182) took second place for the Golden Bears while Robbie Martin of St. Pius took fourth place in the 138-pound weight class. … Meadowcreek won the Last Man Standing tournament at Eagle’s Landing Saturday. Rockmart was the runner-up while Forest Park finished third, the hosts finished fourth and Westminster took fifth place. …

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Johns Creek wins Fulton County championship

By Stephen Black

Score Atlanta

Johns Creek won the Fulton County Championship meet by winning the girls meet and finishing fourth in the boys meet. Alpharetta won the boys meet for the fifth year in a row with a score of 361.5 and came in second in the girls meet with 319 points. However, Johns Creek’s whopping 453 points in the girls meet and 284 in the boys gave the Gladiators the championship. Jack Nyquist won the boys diving event with a score of 545.95 while fellow Raider Crawford Berry came in second with 412.30 points. … Parkview won a meet with rival Brookwood 334-286 Friday. The Panthers won the boys meet 197-111, but lost the girls meet 175-137. Parkview has a total of 35 state qualifiers and has also qualified its entire team for the county meet. It is the first time an entire squad has qualified for the county meet, according to Panthers coach Jack Gayle. … Lassiter won a meet with Hillgrove by sweeping both the boys and girls meets on Senior Night for the …

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New HS basketball rankings: Fayette County replaces Miller Grove at No. 1 in AAAA; GAC boys, Buford girls also take top spots

Fayette County and Greater Atlanta Christian are new No. 1 boys teams while Buford’s girls regained the their top ranking in the high school basketball rankings this week.

Fayette County’s boys, who made the Class AAAA semifinals last year but have never won a state title, replaced three-time defending champion Miller Grove, which lost Friday to Chamblee in a Region 6-AAAA game. Miller Grove has nine losses, but Chamblee was the first Georgia team to defeat the Wolverines in over a year.

In AA boys, defending champion Greater Atlanta Christian replaced Vidalia, which lost to Long County 70-68 on Tuesday.

In AA girls, Buford returned to No. 1 after a 58-44 victory on Saturday against Lovett, the previous No. 1 team, which dropped to No. 5. The return of Andraya Carter, the 2011 Class AA player of the year who has missed most of the season with a torn ACL, should provide a big boost for Buford down the stretch.

New this week to the boys rankings are Tift County, North …

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AA basketball blog: Dade girls knocked from ranks of unbeaten

The Sonoraville girls made one field goal in the second half, but the Phoenix were accurate at the free throw line and handed No. 8 Dade County its first loss of the season 43-38  on Friday night.

Sonoraville made 18 free throws in the final period and were able to withstand a late rally by Dade.

Sonoraville, one game behind Dade County in Region 7-AA Division A, was led by Carrie Cheeks with nine points. Eight different players scored for the Phoenix (14-5, 7-2).

Dade County (16-1, 8-1) got 14 from Holly Gross.

East Hall girls win showdown with Rabun

In a much-anticipated game, the East Hall girls scored a relatively easy 56-45 victory by blitzing No. 7 Rabun County23-8 in the fourth quarter in Gainesville. The win kept the Vikings in first place in Region 8-AA North.

East Hall’s Morgan Jackson scored 20 points and Jasmine Jenkins scored 19, 13 of them in the final quarter, Rabun got 12 points from Krista Dixon and 10 from Grace Rogers.

East Hall improved to 15-2 and …

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Class A Basketball Blog: Lillie leading Athens Christian; No. 1 vs. No. 2 girls lives up to hype

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

News and notes from Class A basketball …

BOYS

Lillie one of state’s all-around best. Athens Christian (15-2) may crack the top 10 this week and center Zach Lillie is a major reason why. A 6-foot-9 senior, he is putting together one of the state’s best all-around seasons, averaging 16 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks and five assists, while shooting 70 percent from the field for the Eagles, whose only losses thus far are to Class AAAA East Paulding and Landmark Christian, ranked No. 6 in Class A.

Athens boasts two freshmen standouts. The Athens area is also home to two of the most dynamic freshmen in the state. Lillie’s teammate at Athens Christian, Will Jackson, a 6-4 guard, is averaging 17 points and six assists per game. Across town, Athens Academy guard Eric Williams is averaging 19 points and five assists, while shooting 42 percent on 3-pointers. Jackson’s team got the best of Williams’ on Dec. 9, as Athens Christian won …

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AAAAA basketball blog: Bolden helps North Gwinnett take lead in Region 7

Chris Bolden, the Georgia Tech signee who transferred from state champion Norcross to North Gwinnett in the offseason, is helping change the course of Region 7-AAAAA, as many expected. A senior guard, he scored 23 points in a key 69-56 victory against Peachtree Ridge (10-8, 5-3) on Friday. Earlier this week, Bolden scored nine points with seven rebounds in a victory against his former team. It’s not just Bolden. Against Peachtree Ridge, Danny Crawford made four 3-pointers in the first half. Against sixth-ranked Norcross (10-7, 7-1), A.J. Clements scored 21 points. North Gwinnett (12-7, 7-1) remains unranked. North Gwinnett has reached the state playoffs the past two seasons but not advanced a round since 2005.

Georgia teams struggle in Hilton Invitational

Georgia teams went 0-2 on Friday on the first day of the Hilton Invitational at Norcross. A third game was canceled because an Illinois team was snowed in. Dr. Phillips (15-4) of Orlando beat Berkmar (11-6) 77-50 despite …

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AAA basketball blog: No pressure on Washington County boys

With a state title a year ago and a 48-game winning streak, the Washington County girls team is getting a lot of attention. Few would argue against the notion that they deserve it. The Lady Hawks beat Cross Creek 63-52 Friday night to move to 16-0 this season.

“We usually have a packed house because everybody’s here to see the girls play,” Washington County boys coach Carlos Hope said.

The packed houses are also seeing a boys team that smothers its opponents. Friday night, visiting Cross Creek managed 32 points, the eighth time in 15 games Washington County has held its foe to fewer than 40 points. No team has scored 50 against the Golden Hawks.

“We’re holding most teams around 35 points,” said Hope. “We feel like if we can do that, we’ll have a chance to win every night.”

Hope says the boys team doesn’t suffer by comparison to the girls team.

“We don’t play against our girls,” he said. “We’re very supportive of each other … winning is contagious, and it …

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AAAA basketball blog: Chamblee hands Miller Grove boys first Georgia loss

The top-ranked Miller Grove boys lost to a Georgia team for the first time this season when they were knocked off 58-56 by Chamblee on Friday.

It was the ninth loss of the season for Miller Grove, which went 1-8 against out-of-state teams over the past month. The last Georgia team to beat Miller Grove was Southwest DeKalb, which won 61-56 in the region championship game last season. Miller Grove has won the past three Class AAAA championships.

“It was just our night,” Chamblee coach Caesar Burgess said. “We were making some shots, and it was a night when they didn’t play their best. But we got out to an 18-5 lead and were ahead by double digits for a lot of the night.”

Isaiah Mason and Jade McClendon scored 16 points each to lead Chamblee, which improved to 14-4 and maintained its hold on first place in Region 6-AAAA Division A. Second-place Tucker handed the Bulldogs their only region loss, and the teams meet again on Feb. 10 in the final game of the regular …

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Wesleyan 67, St. Francis 54 (Girls)

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Wesleyan finally received a test from a team within the boarders of Georgia and in its classification Friday night. While the Wolves, ranked No. 1 in Class A, didn’t exactly pass with flying colors, they passed – rather impressively – nonetheless.

On the strength of a third-quarter explosion by senior forward Holli Wilkins, Wesleyan finally dispatched of No. 2 St. Francis, 67-54, in a battle for first place in Division B of the subdivided Region 5.

The Wolves had bounced the Knights by an average margin of 23 points in the last three meetings between the two. Friday night, St. Francis made the three-time state champs work for everything.

Wesleyan led by five, 26-21, at halftime after playing most of the second quarter without Wilkins and junior point guard Brittany Stevens, who both picked up two fouls each. With Wilkins on the bench, junior forward Katie Frerking took the offense on her shoulders with nine points in the first …

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