Class A Basketball Blog: 5 Things to Look for in Round 2

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Here are some things to look for in Round 2 of the playoffs in Class A.

Whitefield Academy vs. ….. St. Francis? Everyone expected to see a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Wednesday’s second round, with undefeated North Cobb Christian boys taking on No. 2 Whitefield. But St. Francis has other ideas. The Knights (17-12) got 23 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks from 6-foot-7 senior Nigel Jackson en route to the 65-63 stunner over NCC (28-1). Senior guard Conner Smith and freshman forward Kaiser Gates each contributed 13 points to the win. So the Whitefield game plan will now have to change a bit. Instead of preparing for NCC’s dynamic perimeter players Corey Harris and sophomore Stephon Jelks, the Knights don’t have anyone on their roster shorter than 5-10. Whitefield dominated Hebron Christian 65-13 in the first round.

Wilkinson County boys surging. The Gordon Lee boys’ prize for winning a play-in game was a visit to Wilkinson County’s “The Palace.” The Warriors were rude hosts as usual, winning 98-37. The defending champions have won 17 straight and will host Landmark Christian (22-5) and 6-8 forward Houston Kessler on Wednesday.

Wilkinson County girls gone. The Cinderella ride for the Warriors is over. After entering the Region 7 tourament 10-14, Wilkinson County’s girls won three straight to claim the top seed in the state playoffs. But Bremen, which had to win a play-in game against Athens Academy just to make it into the state tournament, knocked off the Warriors 44-40 behind 13 points from junior guard Kalia Johnson and 12 from junior guard Jordan Hill.

Wesleyan girls on fire. As a reward for knocking off a No. 1 seed – Wilkinson County – in the first round, Bremen (19-6) gets to travel to three-time defending Class A champion Wesleyan on Tuesday. The Wolves, in a nasty mood since losing the Region 5 tournament final at home to St. Francis, showed their displeasure by blasting Paideia, 83-26, in Round 1. The score was 51-7 at halftime. Jordan Frazier led the way with 21 points, while Holli Wilkins added 14. Wesleyan won the AA title in 2008 and thus is going after its fifth consecutive state championship.

Public vs. private. If you’re keeping score at home, public schools have won nine of the 15 games pitting public schools against private schools in the first round of the state playoffs. On the boys side, private schools won all three games, while public school girls’ teams went 9-3 in a dozen games played against private schools. Beginning next season, public and private schools in Class A will not compete against each other in the post season in athletic competition or in any other extra curricular activity sanctioned by the Georgia High Schools Association.

21 comments Add your comment

athensbball

February 27th, 2012
4:02 pm

Mr. Coleman: what everyone seems to be looking over is that the Class A Boys Bracket is ALREADY seperated between Private and Public Schools. There is no creativity in settting up the bracket at all. ALL of the private schools are in the bottom half of the bracket, therefore making it possible for only 2 private schools, at the most, in the Final 4…. People wanted seperation?? They already have it.

gakat1

February 27th, 2012
8:55 pm

Is there a better coach in the state than Jan Azar? And no, have no ties to Wesleyan, live in Jackson,Ga and just see a lot of HS ball. She has been consistent and will play anybody and eat their lunch with her awesome press. Guess #5 in a row is coming.

POCKET

February 27th, 2012
9:24 pm

please dont count the warriors out of this. and as for TURNER COUNTY the boyz are back so the second time around wont be pretty. GOOD LUCK WE WILL BE WAITING

dawg

February 28th, 2012
8:00 am

Give Azar a chance to coach in say Wheeler County where she cannot recruit too well and see how great she is.

gakat1

February 28th, 2012
8:28 am

dawg, you obviously don’t know her history. There have been 2 or 3 move ins in HS since she became coach about 11 years ago. She has a great feeder and teaching system from 1st grade on, so she would win anywhere. I’m just a big bball fan and have seen all the good coaches in A thru 5A and she is one of the best. Check your history before spouting comments.

Her kids learn the press as soon as they can walk. Pressure basketball with girls is the killer of many teams.

Weasel

February 28th, 2012
8:30 am

The debate goes on. As if there is a debate. Seems most folks will miss the rivalries next year, I being one of them. Just for the record, athletes transferring to private schools lose a year of eligibility. Not required for the super stud that just happens to appear at … Well, you know which schools I mean.

tom

February 28th, 2012
9:16 am

dawg, Azar will run up the score on any team, any time she can. Truly “good” coaches will demonstrate good sportsmanship when playing teams that are having troubles. She shows no mercy. It doesn’t matter how good a coach she is, I have no respect for her.

coughsalot

February 28th, 2012
11:30 am

Tom; It’s interesting to see what you perceive as running up the score. Against not so good teams, the press is gone at the end of the first quarter. That’s their style of play and they have to at least keep it honed a little in preparation for the next game especially come playoff time. They still play good defense the entire game though. If you see a score that’s like 70-30, if she wanted to run it up, the score could have been 120 -10. She teaches her players to always help their opponents up if they’re on the floor. You don’t see any attitutdes or dirty play in her kids. This is all taught from an young age.

MR is a Hypocrite

February 28th, 2012
2:17 pm

But all the public school coahes that lost are home crying about unfair it is that they have to play teams better than they are. of courdse tomorrow they will all talk to theri teams about not quitting under adversity – they are such a crock

gakat1

February 28th, 2012
8:44 pm

coughsalot, you obviously have seen her teams play a lot also. She plays at least 15 players and I think only Wilkins averages double figures. All these complainers have not seen her teams over the years. Very little big time talent but a lot of teamwork and an unreal press for A or AA, and for that matter many of the TOP national teams. Look at thier record outside the state. Been to Phoenix the last couple years. Oh well, some folks just love to bitch.

CharltonIndian

February 28th, 2012
9:25 pm

You forgot to look out for Charlton’s Courtney Williams who scored 48 points, grabbed 20, rebounds, and had 10 assists in Charlton’s 85-82 overtime win

Rock

February 29th, 2012
11:48 am

gakat1 you can say what you may but everyone knows why Azar wins like she does and thats talent. You can’t win a horse race with a bunch of donkeys. You need talent and that is what she goes out and get (recuit) talent. It is easy to coach talent. Put her down in Johnson County and let her play the hand she is dealt. Then come back and tell me the great job she did.

gakat1

February 29th, 2012
12:00 pm

And rock, where does the talent come from??? She’s had like 2 HS move ins in 11 years. Check the facts, there was an article detailing this earlier this year. She coaches kids early and has a feeder system that plays her style.

How do you think Wilkinson Co boys are so CONSISTENT in having good teams year after year. It starts with the coach and his own feeder system. How did Mitchell-Baker have so many great teams, when the coach left and the school split, it was all down hill.

You folks that don’t understand how important coaching and a feeder system is, will never get it.

athensbball

February 29th, 2012
1:28 pm

Last 7 Class-A Basketball State Champions: Public Schools had 4, Private Schools had 3. Sounds pretty even to me…This divison is all about FOOTBALL…dont waste your time arguing in here because the decision did not take into consideration any other sport than FOOTBALL.

apiratelooksat50

February 29th, 2012
2:19 pm

The charges of Wesleyan pressing mercilessly are absurd – not based in fact. Against Padaeia Wesleyan led 51-7 at halftime – having pulled off the press in the first quarter. Most of the players on the roster saw playing time. The typical starters were “never” on the floor together. No starter played in the fourth quarter. Wesleyan ended up winning the game 83-26 winning the second half 32-19.

The charges that success comes from recruiting is absurd – not based in fact. None of these kids were “name” players when they came to Wesleyan. None of them are ranked in anybody’s Top 50. They are successful getting into college because of their work ethic and will to win.

It is absurd that people get on line and criticize a Coach who totally commits herself to the program. It is insulting to the kids who have worked harder to become successful at this than most of people will ever work at anything.

But this absurd behavior is pretty typical from people who don’t have any appreciation of what hard work, commitment, and teamwork can accomplish.

Archer Franqui

February 29th, 2012
9:21 pm

Whitefield Academy is a monster, they destroyed St. Francis tonight, the Knights were horrible, incredible that they beat North Cobb Christian, the way they played tonight they would have beaten anyone, coach Johnson has them inspired, see ya ll in Macon!!!!!!!!!

Archer Franqui

February 29th, 2012
9:24 pm

Oh, a word to the wise for anyone that plays Whitefield, be ready to survive the press deeeeefence and make sure your outside game is on as there are lots of trees inside.

Archer Franqui

February 29th, 2012
9:25 pm

Whitefield’s defence is devastating!!!!!!

Archer Franqui

February 29th, 2012
9:27 pm

I would love to see a total state championship with both public and prep schools playing to determine the true champion!!!!!

William Casey

February 29th, 2012
11:43 pm

I was Jan Azar’s coach in high school at St. Pius. While she’s moved far beyond me in coaching achievement (brings me great joy), her values remain the same as they were when she attended my camp as a 7th grader. She NEVER runs up the score. The last game I saw, Wesleyan could have scored 110 had she kept the press on and played only the top eight players. The recruiting charge is ludicrous. Go back five years and you’ll see the same names in the feeder program with a rare exception. Jan is a demanding, hard-nosed coach. That’s why she started as a freshman at point guard on my varsity team. Honorable person then and now.

athensbball

March 1st, 2012
11:33 am

@Archer Franqui: “I would love to see a total state championship with both public and prep schools playing to determine the true champion”

YOU ALREADY HAVE THAT THIS YEAR! Does anyone even look at the Class A bracket?? All of the south georgia teams…aka…also public schools…are in the top two brackets and all of the private schools are in the bottom two brackets. They are serperated ALREADY! At most….2 private schools can make it to the final 4 because of the way the GHSA sets it up. Since Ive posted this 10 times on various boards…someone please acknowledge that they even noticed the brackets!!