AAAAAA basketball blog: Tift is only unbeaten team in Top 10 … North Gwinnett boys, North Cobb girls start fast … Roswell sweeps Milton, Wheeler

Looking at the world of Geogia high school basketball in the highest classification, here are five bits of news …

And remember this is a blog. We also want to know what you’re seeing on the hardwood this season.

- Tift County’s boys are 3-0. That’s newsworthy because every other preseason Top 10 boys team has lost. Kansas signee Brannen Greene, perhaps the state’s best player, has scored 32 points or better in all three Tift victories, and four other players are averaging 10 points or more. The rest of the Top 10 is less-than-perfect. No. 1 Norcross, still missing key players from the football team, has lost twice, once to a Florida team, another to No. 7 Shiloh, which has lost to No. 10 Berkmar, which has lost to No. 8 Peachtree Ridge, which has lost to No. 5 North Cobb, which has lost to Class A power North Cobb Christian. No. 3 Wheeler and No. 6 Milton have lost to Roswell. No. 9 Alpharetta has lost multiple times. No. 4 Westlake was the last to give in, losing its first game last weekend to a team from Tennessee.

- Roswell’s boys sweep Milton and Wheeler. Roswell is only 4-4 overall but beat state powers Milton (70-60) and Wheeler (72-69) in Region 5 games last week. Roswell’s top player is point guard Sean Brennan, a four-year varsity player who has signed with North Florida. He scored 25 against Milton and 22 against Wheeler and was 22-of-24 from the free-throw line in those games. Guard Matt Beneduci played well against Wheeler, scoring 17 points and getting 10 rebounds.

- North Gwinnett’s boys are 6-0 with victories over Whitefield Academy and Columbia. Perhaps North Gwinnett should’ve been ranked in preseason. The Bulldogs upset Wheeler on the road in the state playoffs last year and made the quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion Milton. But North Gwinnett lost Chris Bolden to Georgia Tech. North Gwinnett is back in the hunt with two juniors and three sophomores in the starting lineup. Wingman Kam Calhoun and point guard Tobias Howard started as freshmen last season.

- North Cobb’s girls are 6-0 with victories over 2012 state champion McEachern and runner-up Hillgrove. North Cobb, ranked No. 3 in preseason, also won the Darlington Holiday Classic with wins over Calhoun and Darlington. Sophomore Kyrie’ Chandler was named tournament MVP. She is leading the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) and assists (6.2). North Cobb played its first four games without last season’s leading scorer, Amber Reevers. She suffered a torn ACL in the state playoffs last season. North Cobb is allowing only 32 points per game.

- The preseason girls Top 10 is holding out a little longer than the boys in losing their first games. The undefeated teams are No. 3 North Cobb, No. 4 North Gwinnett and No. 7 Parkview. No. 1 McEachern, which lost four of its top six players from the 33-0 state champion, lost its first five games. No. 2 Norcross lost its first game on Saturday to nationally ranked Hoover of Alabama. No. 9 Woodstock lost on consecutive nights last week to Cherokee and then No. 6 Alpharetta, which has won four straight since losing its opener to Fayette County. No. 5 Mill Creek is 5-4, with all losses to ranked teams, including to Parkview twice, although by more than 20 each time. No. 10 Hillgrove’s only loss came last week to North Cobb 54-49. No. 8 Alcovy has lost twice, once to Miller Grove 39-20 in a rematch of a AAAA semifinal game from last season.

35 comments Add your comment

Andre Elam

December 11th, 2012
11:46 am

Westlake lost 57-48 to Ridgeway HS, (TN) the #20 ranked team in the country. They dominated and lead the entire 1st three quarters before falling apart in the 4th quarter. Westlake (7-1) have wins over the following Preseason ranked in-state teams: North Clayton, Buford, Fayette County and Milton. Team is legimately 8-9 deep.

Hubert Green

December 11th, 2012
12:33 pm

The Mayans were onto something. Roswell’s beating Milton (albeit depleted), and Wheeler, without Brown and Love is conclusive evidence that Dec 21st is it.

Let the Big Bee Sting

December 11th, 2012
12:56 pm

Hey Hubert…you and the Mayans both need to go pound sand on Dec. 21st….

liberalefty

December 11th, 2012
1:49 pm

why dont the state have one boys and girls champion like KENTUCKY does? divide the state into 16 regions each region champ goes to state for a SWEET 16 TOURNAMENT…its so simple and probaly saves money too. they could play at PHILLIPS ARENA. Start on a Thursday and have the champuonship game SATURDAY night. It seems like theirs too many champions for a true champion in this state.

RobFromNorcross

December 11th, 2012
3:04 pm

Norcross will improve once the football season is over and we get all of our players back on the basketball court…

NCHS Fan

December 11th, 2012
3:21 pm

I’m guessing we wont have a new ranking until after the football season?

That Dude Says...

December 11th, 2012
3:24 pm

@liberalefty… Would never work or happen here. Comparing Georgia to Kentucky is like comparing apples to oranges. Georgia is twice as populated as Kentucky. Here in Georgia we have easily twice as many high schools. Also the Commonwealth of Kentucky lives, eats, sleeps and breaths basketball. They play their sweet sixteen tournament in Rupp Arena. They almost sellout Rupp Arena for the championship and even often do sell it out some years. That’s 23,000 people. Phillips holds 19,000 and we wouldn’t even come close to selling out Phillips for high school basketball. Also here in Georgia our single A class has a private and public state champion. If they can’t agree to play each other for a state title there is no way they would agree to play the larger schools in the metro Atlanta area for one.

I do think it’s cool how Kentucky’s state tournament is a sweet sixteen made up of the 16 region champions. I also like how the regions in Kentucky have had the same schools in the same region for years and years. They have some real good rivalry’s in Kentucky. It’s not like here where we have new schools opening up every year. Where it forces the GHSA to look at school enrollments, logistics and shuffle schools from region to region and even a different classification every two to four years or whatever it is. I would love to see the state champions from the single A private/public up to AAAAAA play a tournament of champions. I know it will never happen though.

Wildcat

December 11th, 2012
3:31 pm

Wheeler will be fine come tournament time. Plus once Jalen Brown and Jerron Love suit up they will look like a totally different team.

Todd Holcomb

December 11th, 2012
3:46 pm

”I’m guessing we wont have a new ranking until after the football season?”

Correct. Probably looking at first Sunday in January for the new poll.

I don’t think most people want one champion, but the top smaller schools are pretty close now such that teams like Whitefield Academy and Wilkinson County can hang with the best of them. But most teams would have no hope of ever winning a title, and you’d probably see more player transfers to go to those few programs that could win it.

Todd Holcomb

December 11th, 2012
3:47 pm

”Westlake lost 57-48 to Ridgeway HS, (TN) the #20 ranked team in the country.”

Thanks for the added info on Westlake. I knew Ridgeway was pretty good. Didn’t know what national ranking. Westlake appears to be playing very well.

Todd Holcomb

December 11th, 2012
3:51 pm

fyi, I went back and added some details about the Roswell wins. Sean Brennan was 22-of-24 from the free-throw line in those two wins. Don’t foul Brennan!

j

December 11th, 2012
4:22 pm

Westlake is very good this year. They have alot of versatillity too. NGwinnett is a sleeper to look out for even though they are young, they have played together for a long time. Peachtree Ridge is scary because they have good size and good and a really good young pg. Wheeler will be heard from when it is all said and done. Jayln Brown is a beast and will be back soon. Berkmar is one of those teams that never stops fighting so they will be heard from. I have never seen Carlos Burse play, but if he is as good as people say Alpharetta will be very tough all year.

Marietta fan

December 11th, 2012
5:37 pm

Marietta boys and girls are both very young and the girls have a lot of injuries on top of that. The boys have been competitive in all in but one game but falter in the 2nd half. It will be interesting to see how they play come tournament time. We have a knack of having a bad regular season but strong region tournament to make the playoffs when nobody expects us to.

Hubert Green

December 11th, 2012
5:54 pm

Brennan didn’t score against N. Gwinnett in a 10 point loss. Guess you should try and keep the other team’s only college prospect from beating you.

Lakerman

December 11th, 2012
8:52 pm

Big question – this has never been reported. Who replaced David Boyd at Milton?

Tees

December 11th, 2012
9:29 pm

Coach Doug Lipscomb gets his 500th victory tonight behind Staley’s 40 points and Smoak’s 15 and 9 assist.

liberalefty

December 11th, 2012
11:01 pm

That Dude Says

Sadly you’re right basketball is treated like a stepchild here, playing the state tournament in some barn like structure in Macon. While football gets the royal treatment.

Forealtho..

December 12th, 2012
7:00 am

@Todd Holcomb Wheeler will beat Roswell by 20 the next time they play. Elijah Staley only played about 13 min. He was in foul trouble. Roswell just had one of those games. Austin Smoak got caught up into going back & forth with the Brennan kid & forgot he had a 6′10 Daniel Giddons & a 6′7 Elijah Staley (when he was in the game) on his team! They have to play team ball in order to be good. They beat Etowah last night & Staley had 40 & 15 with 6ast. They had a ton of team ast. Dont buy into that Roswell beating Wheeler thing. Trust me, They just got lucky. Walton beat Roswell.. Wheeler beat Woodstock pretty bad & then Woodstock beat Walton pretty good. Woodstock is better than Roswell in my opinion…Thats how the ball bounces.. Dont hype up Roswell to fast.. They might be the 4th seed come state time.. MIGHT!! :-)

Forealtho..

December 12th, 2012
7:09 am

@Hubert Green.. Dont yoy buy into that Roswell thing either.. they just had one of those nights like lakeside did against that Marietta team that had Ewing & Ellis in 2002. They will never have another game like that again. Wheeler didnt play a good team game that night & Staley only played like 13 min. Dont get caught up in the Roswell hype.. THEY ARENT THAT GOOD!

Wheeler fan

December 12th, 2012
7:16 am

I hope when Love & Brown gets back, they dont kill the chemistry… If they dont play as a team, they will struggle just like last year. Last night they moved the ball better than Ive seen in years. They hit the open man almost everytime down. Smoak controlled the game well. Not to many turnovers..

basketballnut

December 12th, 2012
7:30 am

@j… I agree. Westlake added Kejuan Johnson. They will go deep if he can stay out of trouble & play unselfish… Wheeler’s key was Elijah Staley deciding to play. without him, They would have struggled. Even with the Brown kid. I think Staley is the key to their success. Shiloh will be hard to beat this year also with the addition of Nate Mason.. Norcross didnt look to good in the explosion. people keep saying they will be good once football is over. Only one of the football kids are any good. The other 2 are just role players. But I could be wrong. The big Lorenzo Brown kid jumps well but thats all he does. Cant wait til Feb to see who comes out on top. Tift Co Will be State Champs I think.

WeareArcher

December 12th, 2012
8:32 am

Why isnt Archer High School not in the top ten conversation? With one of the best Pg’s in the state Randall Smith took down Berkmar last night with 24pts 8 ass and 4 stls 5 rebounds. Tigers 8-1.

Warrior Pride

December 12th, 2012
8:39 am

North Cobb’s girls are playing together and as long as they stay hungry and humble I expect big things from them. North Cobb boys had an early wake up call from NC Christian but now are back on track. I expect the girls and boys basketball teams to make it to the Final Four just like our football, volleyball and softball teams did. Let’s keep it going Warriors!

Todd Holcomb

December 12th, 2012
9:34 am

”Big question – this has never been reported. Who replaced David Boyd at Milton?”

Van Keys. It was reported Oct. 26:

http://blogs.ajc.com/georgia-high-school-sports/2012/10/26/milton-hires-keys-to-replace-boyd-as-boys-basketball-coach/

Todd Holcomb

December 12th, 2012
9:35 am

j

December 12th, 2012
10:09 am

@basketballnut ur right about the kids at Norcross from football(Lorenzo Carter). All 3 are extremely athletic and will take some time to get timing, but biggest addition will be Terrance O’Donahue, 6′7 and already signed to college of charleston. If coached right they can beat Tift, but i would say Tift is the favorite right now.

Wildcat

December 12th, 2012
1:46 pm

Love and Brown won’t hurt the chemistry. JB is a team player and Love is a pass-first guard which Wheeler desperately needs. I agree the ball movement was better against Etowah, but their were way too many turnovers. This team will be really good come February.

Titletown USA

December 12th, 2012
7:30 pm

Tift Co has the be the best chance for a South GA team to challenge for the title this year. But for some reason, Valdosta always plays them tough during regular season. I wondered what chemistry would be like with the addition of the new kid that signed with Kansas….must be okay. Can’t wait to see them come to town.

Decatur 4 Life

December 13th, 2012
9:52 am

basketballnut

I agree with most of your post but Shiloh won’t be as hard to beat as you think, especially if you’re basing that on the addition of Nate Mason. He can be a good shooter but a true point guard is not his game, he’s a shooter bottom line. Thats why it was a surprise to see him leave Columbia, who cares about concentrating on playing point guard when you were a starter at shooting guard for a team that has won 3 straight championships with an all world point guard Shamsid-Deen that can penetrate and distribute the ball. One thing for sure is Mason’s championship ring winning is OVER! Trust Me

DOSTA DAWG

December 14th, 2012
6:51 am

@ Titletown USA – Valdosta plays Tift tough because of the contrast in styles of play. Tift plays like a power running football team. Valdosta plays fast uptempo like a spread offense team. Tift is big and hard to guard in the post. Valdosta counters that by putting alot of shooters on the court and makes Tift defend the perimeter. I think this years Valdosta team is alittle less talented than last years, but this team plays real hard and fast.

toofunny

December 14th, 2012
10:04 am

alpharetta will be competitive this year with Burse but the best player on the team is point guard Ty Toney App. St commit. Argubaly one the best PG in the state. If you don’t believe me ask Milton, berkmar, P. Ridge and so on.

wheeler man

December 14th, 2012
12:43 pm

Love isn’t a shooter he is a scorer but, what makes him good is his willingness to pass the ball sacrificing his all around game for the team. If coach needed love to score 50 he’d have no problem. Also Tifts, Norcross and Roswell point guards are in serious trouble when love’s eligible. Personally i like JB’s game the most and Daniel is a beast along with Staley, throw PG Jerron in the mix and you could sell out arenas…

Anxiety

December 14th, 2012
1:04 pm

Brennen Greene is amazing pg with bounce tho I wonder is he quick enough to defend Wheeler’s new pass first pg or will Tift resort to double team and box n 1. Expect nonstop man 2 man coverage and 94ft ball denial from Wheeler!

I Agree

December 16th, 2012
3:37 am

@Wildcat He is a pass first guard who’s more comfortable dishing the ball to teammates rather than scoring points. God bless Wheeler HS!

sportsnut

December 17th, 2012
1:08 pm

Lovejoy is coming now that football is over. We get ready to see our recievers and Qb now on the court. Get ready 6A.