Archive for March, 2012

Track and Field Blog: Girls ranked in the nation’s Top 50

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

While California, Florida and Texas get a lot of credit for producing outstanding track athletes, Georgia puts out nearly as many. Here is a list of the state’s girls competing in the Georgia High Schools Association, who currently rank in the Top 50 nationally in the events that are scored at the state championship meet. (Look for the boys list next week.)

100 meters: No. 10 Jasmine Abrams, Grayson, Sr., 11.93

100 meter hurdles: No. 2 Kendell Williams, Kell, Jr., 13.86; No. 4 Monti Willis, Campbell, Sr., 14.29; No. 8 India Hammond, Redan, Sr., 14.36; No. 11 Shanel Burr, North Cobb, So., 14.40; No. 12 Amber Bryant-Brock, McEachern, Sr., 14.43; No. 25 Amber Lewis, Roswell, So., 14.71; No. 34 Kamilah Bakari, Norcross, Sr., 14.83; No. 35 Tatiana Rayford, Marietta, Fr., 14.83; No. 39 Sydney Griffin, Walton, Sr., 14.87; No. 49 Donjahae Jones, Valdosta, Sr., 14.95

200: No. 10 Abrams, Grayson, Sr., 24.60; No. 17 Shunika Jarrells, Southwest DeKalb, …

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Baseball: Two-time AAA champ Columbus ranked No. 4 by ESPN

Columbus, Georgia’s reigning Class AAA champion, is ranked in several national polls and likely to move up next week after beating AAAAA champ Parkview 7-6 on Monday.

Columbus (7-0, ranked No. 4 by ESPN Rise) is led by two Georgia signees in pitcher/outfielder Kyle Carter and pitcher/shortstop J.T. Phillips. Both are likely to be drafted in June. Middle infielder Josh Lester has signed with Missouri, and third baseman Spencer Draws is headed to Air Force.

Carter, Phillips, Lester and left fielder Ryan Lang played on the Columbus Little League World Series champions of 2006.

‘’I’d rather be ranked than not, but these [early] rankings are usually just publicity from the previous year,’’ said Columbus coach Bobby Howard, whose 2004 finished No. 2 in USA Today. ‘’I don’t know if it’s from a team standpoint or two or three [nationally known] individuals that we have. But we haven’t done a whole lot [this season] to merit that yet.’’

Against Parkview, Carter entered in the …

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Baseball notebook: Defending champ Parkview frets the small stuff

Parkview baseball coach Chan Brown was complaining this week that his team had turned only one double play in seven games. The Panthers turned 37 during their state championship season of 2011.

That’s not a sign of shaky defense. Parkview middle infielders Edwin Arias and Jeff Ronporin have college baseball in their futures. This is just a coach with a little less to worry about than most.

Parkview returned eight of nine starters and its top four pitchers and is 5-2 this year, losing to Class AAA powers Columbus and Cartersville.

‘’Obviously there are expectations when you return that many players, and there’s pressure that comes with it,’’ Brown said. “We’re still trying to find that mix. But we’re taking the same philosophy as last year. We’re trying to win every inning we can.’’

Parkview’s most celebrated player is All-American pitcher/first baseman Matt Olson, who hit 17 home runs and won eight games on the mound last season. He has signed with Vanderbilt and likely will …

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Boys soccer blog: Providence looks for boost from McQuaig

Providence Christian, which finished as the Class A runner-up in 2011, got middling results in the early portion of its schedule this year, splitting its first six games, with the losses coming to Class A power Wesleyan, AA mainstay Greater Atlanta Christian and Class AAAAA Berkmar.

Part of the reason was the Stars were missing leading scorer Caleb McQuaig, who scored 28 goals in 2011. Josh Platillero has assumed the biggest share of the socring load, with six goals and four assists through the first six games. McQuaig returned to the pitch this week and Providence got perhaps its most impressive win to date, a 2-0 win over AAAAA Grayson …

With eight returning starters, Wesleyan figured to improve over last year’s club that went 10-9, but looking for more offensive punch, coach Billy Coxhead pulled three-year starter Eric Sunderman out of the goal and moved him to the other end of the field. The Wolves got off to a 4-2-1 start behind Sunderman, who notched five goals and two …

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Girls soccer blog: Defending champions off to strong starts

Defending girls soccer state champions St. Pius and First Presbyterian have picked up where they left off last season, as both teams are undefeated and No. 1 in the most recent Eurosport rankings. Class AAA St. Pius was 7-0 going into Wednesday night’s game at McEachern, outscoring opponents 41-0 through the first month of the season. Last week, Caroline Wootten scored three goals in a 6-0 victory against Grady, and Amanda Vocelka scored five times as the Golden Lions beat North Springs 10-0. This weekend, St. Pius will be among 20 girls teams competing in the Tournament of Champions at Jekyll Island. … First Presbyterian is 8-0 and No. 1 in Class A after winning the Mary Persons Bulldog Cup Tournament last weekend. The Vikings had outscored opponents 61-1 going into Wednesday’s game at Pacelli. First Presbyterian will travel to Rock Hill, S.C., this weekend to meet Charlotte Catholic (N.C.) and Lexington (S.C.) in the Fort Mill Invitational Tournament. “We have added a lot of …

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Track and Field Blog: Top meets this week, Grady’s Coburn takes early 800 showdown

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Top meets this week. Track and field fans have a chance to see hundreds of the state’s top athletes this weekend as two of the most competitive meets of the early season will take place Friday and Saturday.

The 2012 Coaches Invitational, hosted by Pope High School, will be held at Georgia Tech’s George C. Griffin Track, Friday and Saturday, while the 16th annual Roswell Rotary Relays will take place Saturday at Roswell High School. The Roswell meet will feature 24 teams and athletes like North Cobb’s Martez Hester, who has the fastest 400 meter time in the state thus far at 47.45 seconds, which is the fourth best time nationally. Hester has signed to play football at Ball State.

At Georgia Tech, more than 60 high schools will compete in a meet that will feature several college atheles as well. Events begin Friday morning. Among the top high school performers expected to compete are Kell junior Kendell Williams, who has the nation’s second …

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Class A Basketball Blog – Season Finale

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Here are some final thoughts on the 2011-2012 Class A basketball season.

Congratulations to the champs. Wesleyan fell to St. Francis in the region championship game. Whitefield Academy almost suffered a mid-season loss to … Hapeville Charter? But in the end there was justice as the two best teams in Class A took home the titles. Once again Wesleyan’s Jan Azar and Whitefield Academy’s Tyrone Johnson proved to be among the best coaches and program builders in the state.

Yes, they coach at private schools – which by their very definition means the schools have to recruit student athletes. However, the vast majority of Azar’s players come to the school in middle school or even earlier, where they learn how to play the “Wesleyan Way.” Johnson does get some key transfers to Whitefield, though not as many as some opine and they usually come in as freshmen or sophomores. Still, he helps them develop and builds team chemistry. Having great players is …

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Longhorns off to impressive start

By Stephen Black

Score Atlanta

Lambert, the defending Class A-AAAA champion, was in North Carolina over the weekend and came back to Forsyth County with two wins. The Longhorns (8-0) beat Rockhurst Jesuit (Mo.) 17-3 Friday before taking down Apex (N.C.) Saturday 10-7. Prior to the trip to the Tar Heel state, Josh Sagel’s team had defeated in-state teams Fellowship Christian (18-0), Northview (16-3), Chattahoochee (10-5), Wesleyan (18-5), Milton (10-4) and Gainesville (21-1). The Longhorns have not lost since 2011 when Northview beat them 11-5 on Feb. 25. Lambert, however, will receive a serious test Tuesday night as the Longhorns travel to east Cobb to face defending Class AAAAA champion Walton. … Class AAAAA power Milton has started its season 4-1. The lone Eagles’ loss came in blowout fashion to Class A-AAAA power Lambert on March 5. Milton, however, rebounded to defeat North Forsyth 15-5 on March 6. Coach Tom Dell’s squad opened the season with convincing wins over Pope …

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Golf/tennis blog: Walton girls make it 151 straight

The Walton girls won their 151th consecutive tennis match by beating Etowah. Katie Riley and Jessica Cramer won the deciding doubles match. The Raiders also got wins from Melissa Mashburn and Johanna Keeline in singles. The win wasn’t easy, as Etowah had first-set leads in three of the first four matches.

The Walton girls have won eight consecutive state championships and the region championship in 12 of the last 13 seasons. They play again on Tuesday at Etowah.

More tennis: The Armuchee girls tennis team improved to 4-0, with Ebony Shorter playing in the No. 1 spot. . . . Dane Allen is undefeated at No. 1 singles for the East Hall boys. . . . . The Gordon Lee girls lost only three games in beating Ringgold 5-0 in its season opener. Kelyse Mauldin is playing No. 1 for the Trojans. . . .


Lee McCoy of Habersham Central was medalist and Peachtree Ridge won the team competition at the Apple Mountain Invitational in Clarkesville.

McCoy is one of the hottest golfers in the …

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Final basketball rankings: DeKalb wins 4 titles, bringing county haul to 25 championships since ‘04

Columbia High’s sweep of the boys and girls state basketball championships in Class AAA last weekend put an end to the 2012 season and gave DeKalb County more evidence in its claim to being the state’s hotbed of high school hoops.

Columbia’s boys won their third straight championship in Macon with a 65-46 victory over Drew as three-year starting point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen scored 17 points.

Columbia’s girls ended the 63-game winning streak of Washington County with a 57-33 victory and won their second title in three seasons.

Adding in Miller Grove’s sweep of AAAA on Friday, DeKalb teams have won 25 state titles in basketball since 2004. This list includes 22 public and three private-school teams.

Phil McCrary, who has been Columbia’s boys coach for 26 seasons and five state titles, says it’s a combination of talent, training and tradition. He notes that four former DeKalb players, including former Columbia star Travis Leslie, were taken in the 2011 NBA Draft. And a fifth, …

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Class AA Girls: Lovett 52, Buford 42

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Who knew Lovett’s Sydney Umeri could shoot threes?

Sydney Umeri did.

The 6-foot-1 junior, a nationally-ranked player who usually does most of her offensive damage on the low block, stepped out and drilled three long range bombs during a 22-point third quarter that propelled the Lions (28-5) to a 52-42 win over Buford (25-8) in the Class AA final, Saturday in Macon.

The win prevented the Wolves from capturing their fourth consecutive state title. For Lovett, it is the first basketball state championship, girls or boys, for the school. Buford had won the two previous meetings this season between the Region 6 rivals, downing the Lions during the regular season (58-44) on Jan. 21 and in the region tournament championship game (45-39) on Feb. 18.

“It just shows how much my game has developed and how much our team has developed this season,” said Umeri. She had just two points in the first half as Lovett held a 15-14 lead at intermission.

“I got in …

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AAA boys championship: Columbia 65, Drew 46

The Columbia boys won their third state championship in a row on late Saturday night.

The DeKalb powerhouse won a 65-46 slugfest over Drew High for the Class AAA state championship.

Point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen scored a game-high 17 points, while teammate Jhaustin Thomas finished with 11 for Columbia (31-1). Drew, the Clayton school only in its third year of existence, was led by Derrick Frye with 13 points.

“The only thing I can say, with a target that big sitting on their back, you can’t say enough about the way our kids responded,” Columbia coach Phil McCrary said. “There was pressure on them, day after day and game after game. I’m proud of the way they responded.

“We didn’t play one of our best games tonight, but we played well enough to win. Maybe that was because of some of the things Drew forced us to do … we feel lucky to get out of here with a win.”

The game was like one long foul shot. There were a total of 47 fouls called between the two teams.

Columbia appeared to …

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AAA girls: Columbia 57, Washington Co. 33

Macon – Columbia used its quickness and determination on defense to break Washington County’s 63-game winning streak and win the Class AAA girls championship Saturday at the Macon Coliseum.

The No. 2-ranked Eagles (24-5) pushed the defending champion and No. 1-ranked Hawks (31-1) around the court with its man-to-man pressure defense to take a 57-33 win and reclaim the state title it last won in 2010.

Columbia was sparked by the floor play of Zuri Frost and Miah Spencer, who distributed the ball and did excellent work keeping the ball away from Washington County star Allisha Gray. Spencer had 15 points and Frost scored nine, while Gray was limited to 14 points, the only Hawk in double figures.

Many of Columbia’s open passes went inside to Kadeeja Vaughn, who proved to be a great finisher. She scored 17 points and had 16 rebounds. The Eagles dominated the boards, outrebounding the Hawks 39-17. Five Columbia players had at least five rebounds as Washington County grew frustrated …

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AA boys state championship: Laney 67, Manchester 53

The third time was charm for the Laney boys.

After making it the state semifinals for the third year in a row, Laney won the Class AA state championship with a convincing 67-53 win over Manchester on Saturday night.

It was the first-ever basketball state championship for the Laney boys (28-4), which had four players score in double figures: Jammie West with 20, Daniel Harris with 12, and Shaquille Cook and Glenn Rodriquez with 10 each.

“It’s an accomplishment, and these guys, man … they really, really, really displayed courage and heart,” Laney coach Jerry Hunter said.

‘After making it to the Final Four twice [and losing in the semifinals], we made sure to let them to know our goal was to make it the state championship this year. Then once we did that, we told them getting to the state championship and not winning it is not enough.

“We let them know they could make history for Laney High School. And they did.”

Laney overwhelmed Manchester with its pressure defense and …

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A boys: Whitefield Academy 73, Athens Christian 50

Macon – Kenneth Gaines helped Whitefield Academy win its third Class A boys championship and gave Georgia basketball fans a glimpse of what’s in store for the future.

Gaines scored 24 points and helped the No. 2-ranked Wolfpack beat No. 7 Athens Christian 73-50 in the Class A championship game at the Macon Coliseum. The soon-to-be Bulldog had 19 in the first half, including a couple of acrobatic instances where he plucked a rebound near the rim and stuffed it home in a single motion. Gaines scored 135 points in Whitefield’s five playoff games.

“I can’t even explain how it feels,” said Gaines while clutching the gold state championship trophy. “I’m going to go to the locker room and cry my eyes out with my boys. This is what we’ve been working hard to get here for.”

Gaines is the third Georgia signee to win a state championship this weekend. Brandon Morris won the AAAA title at Miller Grove and Charles Mann was on the Milton team that won the AAAAA championship. Gaines was on …

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