Archive for January, 2012

AAAAA basketball blog: Marietta’s undersized boys team is on rise under Lyons

Some are wondering if Marietta’s boys team is a legitimate contender this year with its 12-3 start and first Top 10 ranking since 2007.

The answer might come Tuesday, when No. 4 Wheeler visits the Marietta Garden a game that will decided first place in Region 5-AAAAA. Marietta, ranked No. 8, beat Woodstock 69-63 on Friday to move to 11-3 overall, 5-0 in the region.

Marietta – which has had losing records the past two seasons – lost the first two games this season to Lithia Springs and Alexander when several key players, including starters Anthony Jennings and Jaylen Hill, were involved in the football playoffs. Marietta is 12-1 since.

Marietta’s biggest question mark is size. Matt Lyons, the team’s third-year coach, is the tallest member of the program at 6-foot-4. He’s a former West Georgia player who assisted at Carrollton for nine seasons. He was hired in 2009-10 to replace retiring Charlie Hood, who won two state championships and more than 700 games at Marietta. …

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AAAAA basketball blogs: Separation Friday is at hand with four games to decide first

Four games will decide first place in four metro Atlanta regions of Class AAAAA on Friday, and two more will do the same on Tuesday.

First, the Friday games (see chart at bottom).

In Region 7, the No. 9 Norcross boys team (8-6, 6-0) plays at No. 5 Mill Creek (12-2, 3-1). Norcross, the defending AAAAA champion, lost its first four games this season but is 4-0 since Jan. 1, all region victories. Norcross beat Meadowcreek 45-38 on Tuesday.

Mill Creek, which made the round of 16 last year, knocked North Gwinnett (8-7, 4-1) out of first on Tuesday with a 71-70 overtime victory. Jalen Bracey scored 17 points for Mill Creek. North Gwinnett’s Chris Bolden, who has signed with Georgia Tech, had 22.

In Region 8, top-ranked Shiloh (12-1, 8-0) and Georgia Tech-signee Robert Carter will be at home against Berkmar (9-5, 7-1). Shiloh won the first meeting between these teams 59-49 on Dec. 2 as Trayvon Reed scored 17 points. Reed had 13 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday in a 57-43 victory …

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Eagle’s Landing 78, Spalding 35


By Jay Stone
For the AJC
When you’re ranked No. 2 and rolling along with just one loss, going against a sub-.500 team wouldn’t normally provide great motivation.
Maybe its last Region 4-AAA loss was fresh enough to give Eagle’s Landing a spark.

It wasn’t a flawless performance, but the Golden Eagles took care of business, beating Spalding 78-35 Friday night behind 17 points each from Desmond Ringer and Isaiah Dennis.

It was the fourth straight win for Eagle’s Landing (16-1, 9-0 in 4-AAA), which suffered a one-point loss to the Jaguars in the regular season, last year.

Since falling to defending state champion Columbia in the finals of the Converse Classic over the holidays, Eagle’s Landing has won four games by an average of 44 points.

Ringer made just three field goals but converted 10 of 13 free-throws, adding 11 rebounds and five blocked shots, which didn’t tell the whole story. The undersized Spalding club repeatedly rushed shots to get the ball past …

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Brookstone’s Harrison hired by Tennessee school

Blair Harrison, who led Brookstone to three Region 4-A football titles in his nine seasons at the Columbus private school, was named head coach of Kingston in Tennessee, on Thursday, the Knoxville News Sentinal reported.

Harrison was 73-29 in nine seasons at Brookstone, a private school. Brookstone reached the Class A quarterfinals in 2007.

Harrison is a graduate of the Webb School in Knoxville. He replaces Vic King, who retired after 19 seasons at Kingston.

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Mount Zion-Jonesboro hires Starr as football coach

Mount Zion of Jonesboro has hired Ervin Starr as its head coach to replace Jamie Aull after a 3-7 finish in 2011.

Starr, a former marine platoon sergeant, has been the head football and basketball coach of Rex Mill Middle School in Rex, Ga., since 2007. He was an assistant coach at Robert E. Lee High in Montgomery, his hometown, from 2002 to 2007.

Mount Zion was 12-19 in three seasons under Aull, a Mount Zion alumnus. Mount Zion reached the 1999 Class AAAA final in 1999, when Aull was a player at the school, but had advanced in the playoffs only once since 2000. That came in 2008 under Jarrett Laws, now the head coach at Drew.

Mount Zion will compete in Region 4-AAAAA next season under the new reclassification.

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Douglas County hires Howard offensive coordinator Respert

Howard offensive coordinator Jason Respert is the new head football coach at Douglas County.

Respert is a former all-state lineman at Northside of Warner Robins who played at Tennessee. He also has been an assistant at Northside and Peach County.

Douglas County was 23-28 in five seasons under John Oglesby, who resigned after a 2-8 finish in 2011. Douglas County has not had a winning season since 2007 after having winning seasons each of the previous seven seasons.

Douglas County will compete in Region 3-AAAAA next season. It will be the first time since 2001 that Douglas County has played in the highest classification.

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Centennial hires Alpharetta defensive coordinator Carlberg

Centennial has hired Alpharetta defensive coordinator Jeff Carlberg as its head coach.

Carlberg, who came to Georgia in 2008 after three seasons as head coach of Apollo High in Owensboro, Ky., has led defenses at Lassiter (2008-09) and Alpharetta (2010-11), schools that won their first-ever region championships with Carlberg on staff.

Carlberg also has coached at Louisville as a graduate assistant under Howard Schnellenberger and at Lexington Catholic in Kentucky under current North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire.

Centennial, a north Fulton school, has not won a playoff game since 2002. The school was 24-28 under Jeff Measor, who resigned after five seasons to complete a doctorate. Centennial was 5-6 last season.

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Class A Basketball Blog: Final season (for now) for one champion in Class A

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

With the sea change that will take place in Class A sports next school year, caused by the separation of public and private schools in the playoffs, most of the talk has centered on the impact the new rule will have on football and the so-called “non-revenue” sports (baseball, softball, soccer, golf, volleyball and track).

But what about basketball?

Private schools have been hardly dominant on the boys’ side, with only five state champions over the past 25 years – Whitefield Academy (2003 and 2009), Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (2004 and 2006) and Wesleyan 2010. On the girls’ side, private schools have fared better with eight championships since 1987, four belonging to Wesleyan (2002, 2009-2011). The other winners were Holy Innocents (1999), Savanah Country Day (2000), Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (2006), and Calvary Day of Savannah (2008).

The split in basketball could produce a “plus-one” scenario, in which the …

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AA basketball blog: Hart boys better than record

Don’t be deceived by Hart County’s overall record. Despite their 6-7 mark, coach Eddie McCurley’s boys are a pretty fair team.

Hart has already established itself as the team to beat in Region 8-AA Subregion B. The Bulldogs are 4-0 in the league and have won three straight games. They’re record is just scarred by some tough out-of-conference and out-of-classification games.

Among Hart’s seven losses are two to larger schools from South Carolina, although it also has a win over Oakbrook Prep of South Carolina. Other losses have come against Class AAAAA Collins Hill, Class AAAA Madison County, and Class AAA Woodward Academy, Stephens County and Franklin County.

Hart has earned a reputation for playing good defense, but hasn’t shot the ball as well as it needs so far. Forward Stephon Eades (an all-tournament pick at Christmas) and point guard Jordan Carter have both played well for the Bulldogs.

Hart has already beaten Jefferson inside the subregion and has a key road …

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AAAA basketball blog: Top-ranked Chamblee girls knocked off by Redan

Chamblee’s girls team, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA in this week’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll, suffered its first regular-season loss in almost two years on Tuesday when it was upset by Redan 55-51 in a Region 6-AAAA game.

Chamblee’s last regular-season loss was a 72-55 decision against Southwest DeKalb on Jan. 26, 2010. The Bulldogs were undefeated last season until a 43-41 loss to Miller Grove in the region quarterfinals that prevented Chamblee from reaching the state tournament.

Chamblee (13-1) entered play this week as the only team in Class AAAA without a loss. Redan improved to 11-3 with its fourth consecutive victory. The Raiders went 23-4 last season and reached the first round of the state tournament. Chamblee won last year’s meeting 58-47.

Here’s a recap of some of the other action on Tuesday involving Class AAAA teams:

*Back on the road: The top-ranked Miller Grove boys team played its first Georgia opponent in more than a month, defeating …

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AAA basketball blog: Free-for-all among 6-AAA boys teams

Perhaps the most entertaining fight for region tournament seedings in Class AAA is on the boys side of Region 6-AAA, where Carrollton, LaGrange, Shaw and Troup all returned experienced clubs. It’s showing in their records and in their head-to-head competition.

Troup, which entered Tuesday’s play at 9-4 overall and sharing the region lead with cross-town rival LaGrange, handed No. 4-ranked Carrollton (13-1) its first loss last week.

No. 6 LaGrange lost at Carrollton Tuesday night 69-50 and fell to 11-3.

The Grangers suffered a 76-66 loss to Douglas County (ranked No. 3 in AAAA) and a one-point setback to Drew (No. 9 in AAA). Their results so far could be a harbinger of things to come despite the loss to Carrollton.

“I’d like another shot at Douglas County,” said LaGrange coach Mike Pauley, whose club had a chance to take the lead inside the final two minutes before Douglas pulled away with free throws. LaGrange held the Tigers to their lowest point total of the season to …

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Boys basketball: Wheeler 82, Etowah 75

It was over quickly in overtime. That third-ranked Wheeler was playing an extra four minutes against Etowah (7-8) was a sign Tuesday of the challenges that lie ahead for a young team expected to challenge for a state championship.

Freshman guard Kejuan Johnson scored 22 points, six in the extra period, as Wheeler won 82-75 in its home gym.

Etowah had tied the game on Jack Shaughnessy’s 3-point shot at the buzzer of regulation. Wheeler scored he first eight points in overtime.

‘’We played hard, I’ll say that,’’ Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb said. “There are several ways of looking at this. We had five or six guys in double figures. We had a freshman with 22. On the other hand, we gave up 75.’’

Wheeler is 6-5, but with four losses to out-of-state teams and one to No. 1-ranked Shiloh when Johnson did not play. Wheeler has beaten Southwest DeKalb, the team with two major Division I signees in Shaq Goodwin (Memphis) and Jordan Price (Auburn).

Wheeler’s talent is …

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Tift County hires East Paulding coach Reid

Tift County hired John Reid of East Paulding to be its head coach on Tueday evening, the Tifton Gazette reported.

Reid was 60-15 in six seasons at East Paulding, a school had not won a playoff game in the 15 seasons before he arrived. Reid had come from Tennessee, where he won state titles at Alcoa in 2004 and 2005.

Under Reid, East Paulding reached the state semifinals in 2006, his first season, and made the quarterfinals in 2007, 2010 and 2011. East Paulding was 11-2 last season.

Tift County also made the semifinals in 2006, in Class AAAAA, under Jay Walls, but has struggled since and finished 3-7 last year. Walls was let go.

Tift County will play next season in Region 1-AAAAAA, which is filled with head coaches who have multiple state titles. They include Randy McPherson at Lowndes (four), Rance Gillespie at Valdosta (two), Jeff Herron of Camden County (four), Rush Propst at Colquitt County (five) and now Reid (two).

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Mixed reaction to dividing Class A private and public schools for playoffs

There was mixed reaction from high school officials across the state after the Georgia High School Association voted 37-12 on Tuesday in favor of holding separate playoffs and championships for Class A’s private and public schools:

Steve Jones, athletic director for Cobb County Schools: “I think this move is long overdue. I am glad to see the GHSA took this step. It will prevent these schools from leaving and starting their own organization, which would weaken the GHSA. The gap in public and private schools is widening, so this now gives the small public schools a chance to compete for state championships in all sports. I applaud the GHSA Executive Committee for addressing this inequity. The GHSA is committed to leveling the playing field, and this is a step in the right direction.”

Mark Ledford, football coach at Class A’s Wilcox County: “If things didn’t go as it did today, would [the split from the GHSA] have come to fruition? I don’t know. But I …

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GHSA votes to separate Class A public, private schools for playoffs and championships

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

MACON — The landscape of high school athletics in Georgia took an unprecedented turn on Tuesday when the executive committee of the Georgia High School Association voted overwhelmingly to hold separate public and private school playoffs and championships in all Class A sports, beginning this fall.

The resolution, which was introduced by Charlton County athletic director Jesse Crews, passed by a vote of 37-12, with one abstention. The result will be two, 16-team tournaments – one for public schools and one for private schools — that should keep more than 30 of Georgia’s smaller high schools from leaving the GHSA and forming their own sports league. Representatives from those schools believed there has been a competitive imbalance between public and private schools at the Class A level because of private schools’ ability to accept any student without geographic restriction.

The GHSA’s recently approved region assignments will …

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