Class AAA boys basketball preview

Region 1

The lineup: Division A – Appling County, Beach, Islands, Johnson Savannah, New Hampstead, Southeast Bulloch, Woodville-Tompkins. Division B – Brantley County, Pierce County, Savannah, Savannah Arts Academy, Tattnall County.

Teams to watch: Savannah, Johnson Savannah, Beach, Appling County

Players to watch: Tim Quarterman, PG, Johnson; Hakeem Coney, G, Johnson; Saadiq Muhammad, F, Johnson; Jamal Norman, G, Savannah; Jovante Spivey, G, Savannah; Shawn Brooks, G, Beach; Deshon Nails, F, Tattnall County; Jermaine Williams, G, Savannah; Derrick Bradshaw, F, Brantley County; C.J. Alexander, G, Appling County; Darius Foreman, G, Pierce County;

Strength of region: 5

Last season: Savannah took Milton to the limit in the AAAAA final last spring. And the Blue Jackets didn’t even win their regular-season region title; Johnson did. Both teams are now playing against teams their own size. Appling made the AA playoffs and lost in the first round.

The skinny: The influx of the Savannah area teams from the state’s largest class will tilt the balance of power toward Chatham County. This is the first year the Savannah schools have opted to compete at the proper enrollment level. The rest of the state will find out how good they really are. All non-Savannah teams may be playing for fourth place.

Teams that could win state: Savannah, Johnson

Region 2

The lineup: Division A – Henry County, Jackson, Pike County. Division B – Carver Columbus, Central Macon, Peach County, Southwest Macon.

Teams to watch: Central Macon, Henry County, Carver Columbus

Players to watch: Dre Souder, C, Henry County; LaMarcus White, F, Carver; Columbus; Quintavias Virgil, G, Central Macon; Joshua Evins, G, Central Macon.

Strength of region: 3

Last season: Henry County finished fourth in last year’s rugged Region 4-AAA, but reached the second round before falling to eventual runner-up Drew. Central Macon also reached the second round before losing.

The skinny: Central Macon has a pair of key pieces back and should be a slight favorite over Henry County. This league should be very competitive, as no team seems to be overwhelmingly better than the others. The most athletic teams may be Carver and Peach, but can they play?

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 3

The lineup: Division A – Jefferson County, Thomson, Washington County. Division B – Dodge County, Swainsboro.

Teams to watch: Washington County, Dodge County, Thomson

Players to watch: A.J. Gray, G, Washington County.

Strength of region: 3

Last season: Thomson was third in 3-AAA and Washington County was fourth; both lost in the opening round of state. Dodge County finished third in 3-AA and reached the second round.

The skinny: Thomson and Washington each lost a pair of all-region players. Dodge County returns two-thirds of a team that won 19 games last year, but lost all-region player Leonard Floyd. The result should be a more even race in the classification’s smallest region.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 4

The lineup: Division A – B.E.S.T. Academy, Chapel Hill, Douglass, Jackson. Division B – Callaway, Central Carroll, Haralson County, Rockmart.

Teams to watch: Callaway, Jackson,

Players to watch: C.J. Williams, F, Jackson; Kahlil Wynn, G, Central Carroll; Justis Ward, F, Central Carrol; Nii-Okai Reindorf, F, Haralson County; Jamarious Turner, F, Chapel Hill; Tay Twine, F, Rockmart; Tyrell Tigner, G, Callaway.

Strength of region: 3

Last season: A short note on the teams that went deep into the playoffs.

The skinny: Central Carroll, led by all-region players Wynn (20 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Ward are the preseason pick to win the region. Douglass will benefit from playing down in classification and B.E.S.T. Academy is the big question mark. The league should be competitive with no one likely to run away with it.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 5

The lineup: Division A – Coahulla Creek, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe; North Murray, Ringgold. Division B – Adairsville, Cartersville, Gordon Central, Sonoraville.

Teams to watch: North Murray, Cartersville, Gordon Central, Ringgold

Players to watch: D.J. Prather, F, Gordon Central; Zach Vess, F, North Murray; Brady Swilling, F, North Murray; Alex Rattaxanay, G, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe; D.J. Prather, F, Gordon Central; Chandler Curtis, G, Gordon Central; Tyshaun Clemmons, F, Gordon Central.

Strength of region: 5

Last season: Cartersville was third in Region 7-AAA but exited in one game. North Murray got bounced by Jefferson in the first round of the AA playoffs.

The skinny: North Murray went 21-10 and returns most of its lineup, but has a new coach in Tim Ellis, who took the job in August when Eric Bishop resigned in August. Gordon Central returns three starters from last year’s team that went 16-12 and fell one game short of reaching the state playoffs. Ringgold won 20 games last year and will be in the mix.

Teams that could win state: North Murray

Region 6

The lineup: Division A – Blessed Trinity, Cross Keys, Decatur, St. Pius. Division B – Cedar Grove, McNair, Towers, Woodward Academy.

Teams to watch: Decatur, Towers, St. Pius, Woodward Academy

Players to watch: Nick Harris, PF, St. Pius; Terrence Phillips, PG, Woodward Academy; Jonathan McCrary, F, Cedar Grove; Travone Way, G, Towers; Albert Ross, G, McNair. Tierre Smith, G, Towers;

Strength of region: 4

Last season: Towers was good enough to finish second in 5-AAA last year and reach the second round of state. Decatur was fourth in 6-AA and lost in the first round.

The skinny: Towers won 20 last year, but suffered big graduation losses. Still, the Titans should contend. Blessed Trinity was 16-10 a year ago, but had trouble scoring against good teams. Decatur lost 16 games last year, but 10 of them were in rugged 6-AA, so the Bulldogs, now older and wiser, should be improved. St. Pius has most of its team back, including the formidable Nick Harris, and will benefit from the experience.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 7

The lineup: Division A – Dawson County, Fannin County, North Hall, White County. Division B – Banks County, Buford, East Hall, West Hall.

Teams to watch: Buford, East Hall, North Hall, Dawson County

Players to watch: Hayden Chapman, F, East Hall; Brian Edwards, PG, East Hall; Ebo Smith, PG, North Hall; Adam Kelly, F, North Hall; A.J. Davis, G, Buford; Isaiah Williams, PG, Buford; Tyler Dominy, F, Dawson County; Bruce Clark, F, Dawson County; Hunter Atkinson, F, West Hall; Eddie Hurst, F, White County.

Strength of region: 5

Last season: Four teams in the region won at least 22 games and reached the second round of the playoffs. North Hall went 24-5 and lost in the second round

The skinny: This region is loaded with strong, competitive teams. No one is likely to skate through the league schedule without at least a couple losses. Longtime East Hall coach Joe Dix, who took the Vikings to the 2005 state championship and went 22-8 last season, announced he was leaving for South Gwinnett but changed his mind and stayed put. Buford should benefit from the stability of Davis, who didn’t get his footing until late in the season after transferring from GAC.

Teams that could win state: East Hall, North Hall, Buford.

Region 8

The lineup: Division A – Elbert County, Morgan County, North Oconee, Oconee County. Division B – East Jackson, Franklin County, Hart County, Jackson County.

Teams to watch: Morgan County, Franklin County, Elbert County,

Players to watch: C.J. Thurman, C, Morgan County; Tookie Brown, PG, Morgan County; Nick Colvin, G, North Oconee; Nathan Crumley, G, East Jackson; Trae Gaines, F, Hart County;

Strength of region: 4

Last season: Elbert County shared the 8-AA Div. B regular-season, but got bounced in the region playoffs and did not reach state. Morgan County got all the way to the quarterfinals before running into Laney. Franklin County went 20-9 but lost in the first round .

The skinny: With two all-state caliber players (Brown, 18.1 ppg, Thurman, 14.8 ppg; 15.2 rpg) returning from last year’s 25-5 team, Morgan County is the overwhelming team to beat and could give the Savannah teams a battle. Elbert County shared the regular-season championship and Franklin County finished second in its region. Both return enough talent to make it interesting.

Teams that could win state: Morgan County.

5 comments Add your comment

liberalefty

November 8th, 2012
10:01 am

can you football mad GEORGIANS treat basketball with some respect? i suggest you look at KENTUCKY’S high school bball tournanament the SWEET 16 where one team is crowned champions not 6. Divide the state into 16 regions, each regional champion goes to state.That way you could play the tournament in PHILLIPS ARENA in one weekend.

Johnny Too Good

November 8th, 2012
11:36 am

population in Kentucky < population in Georgia

Region 7-AAA

November 8th, 2012
3:19 pm

liberalefty … Hah! I get a big laugh out of people like you. Pretty much the whole county that I live in gives 100% attention to football up until the HS championships, bowl games and Superbowl. Then it’s off to baseball.

liberalefty

November 9th, 2012
10:24 am

@johnny

so what if GEORGIAS population is larger. we can still have a SWEET 16 format with one champ instead of 6 champions..when u have 6 champions you really have no champion.

pimpinmom

November 12th, 2012
10:11 pm

Really they say watch Nii-Okai from Haralson County, what about #22. He was lead in scores and steals, so they better watch for him. Just saying