AAAAAA basketball blog: Who’s No. 1? We’ll find out soon

The AJC’s first rankings since preseason will come out Sunday as teams get into the heart of their regions schedules.  Here’s a look at some contenders for top-five rankings, if not the No. 1 ranking, in Class AAAAAA.

Who else is playing like a Top 10 team? Let us know what we’re missing.

BOYS

- Archer is 11-2 and leads Region 8 with a 6-0 record, but a loss last week to Valdosta, 91-75, was a setback. Archer has big games on Friday at Dacula (9-3) and on Tuesday at home against Shiloh (10-1)

- North Cobb is 11-2 and went 2-1 at the Nike/Upward Classic in Spartburg, S.C., with wins over Rock Hill and Peachtree Ridge and a loss to eventual champion Dorman. Rock Hill is ranked No. 8 overall in South Carolina by MaxPreps. Dorman is No. 4.

- North Gwinnett is 10-2 and had holiday wins over North Florida Educational Institute of Florida and Vance of North Carolina, which were ranked in the top 20 overall in their states by MaxPreps.  North reached the final of the Upward Classic in Charlotte and lost to St. Patrick’s (No. 3 overall in New Jersey) 57-48. (Note: The Upward Classic is held in Charlotte and Spartanburg. North Gwinnett went to Charlotte. North Cobb went to Spartanburg).

- Norcross is only 9-5, its most recent loss to Columbia 71-67 last week, but leads Region 7 with a 4-0 record (ahead of North Gwinnett). Football player Lorenzo Carter is back on the hard wood. Terrance O’Donahue, the 6-7 forward who has signed with the College of Charleston, is about to return from knee surgery.  But another two-sport star, Myles Autry, is having knee surgery.

- Tift County is unbeaten in Georgia, 8-2 overall, with losses to Long beach Poly of California and Callaway of Mississippi in City of Palms Classic. Tift recently beat 2012 Class AAAAA runner-up Savannah 65-55 and Mill Creek 62-51.

- Worth noting: -Shiloh, ranked No. 7 in preseason, is 9-2 after a surprising loss to Morgan County in the Hoops Overdrive Classic at Centennial.  … Wheeler, still not at full strength waiting for players to get back from football and injury, is 7-4 after a 1-2 tournament at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Wheeler beat Spring Valley 71-50 but lost to Hudson Catholic of New Jersey and King of Wisconsin at the Beach Ball Classic of South Carolina. Earlier last month, Wheeler was third in the Chik-fil-A Classic  in Columbia, S.C., with wins over  Christ School of North Carolina and Richland Northeast of South Carolina and a semifinal loss to St. John Bosco of California. … Westlake is 8-2 and plays in the Peach State Classic locally beginning Thursday.  … Hillgrove is 11-1, its only loss to North Cobb a month ago. Hillgrove won a tourmanet last week somewhere but hasn’t played the toughest schedule. … Campbell coach James Gwyn got his 400th victory last week in the Campbell Holiday Classic. It came in a 67-56 victory over Carver of Atlanta. Campbell is 10-5.

GIRLS

- Cherokee is 12-1 after beating Brock of Texas 39-35 for the championship of KSA Holiday tournament in Orlando.

- North Cobb is 13-1 after finishing third in the Upward Classic, where the Lady Warriors had wins over Spartanburg and Dorman and lost to Millbrook.  North Cobb is 6-0 in Region 4, which has four quarterfinal schools from 2012.

- Norcross is 11-2 after losing in the final of the Nike Interstate Shootout in Oregon last weekend to Portland Central Catholic 68-61. Not a bad team, Portland Central has played signed with Tennessee and Stanford.

- North Gwinnett is 11-0 after winning the Naples (Fla.) Holiday Shootout with a 4-0 record. Maryland-committed guard Lexi Brown was named tournament MVP after North beat Hathaway Brown of Ohio 57-50 in the final. Brown scored 18. North trailed by 14 in the first half.

- Parkview is 13-0 coming off a tournament victory in the Shootout in Gainesville. Parkview’s closest game has been a 55-33 victory over Mill Creek (7-4).

Others: Hillgrove is 10-2 but was upset last week by Kell of AAAAA. Hillgrove, the 2012 AAAAA runner-up, also lost to North Cobb. … Alpharetta is 9-2 after losing to undefeated Carver of Montgomery 59-45 in the Dwight Madison tournament in Alabama. Alpharetta beat Blount, Alabama’s No. 13 overall team per MaxPreps, 71-64.

19 comments Add your comment

basketballnut

January 2nd, 2013
11:54 am

Wheeler went to beach ball without Elijah Staley.. He played in the risingseniors football game for the East Team. Jerron Loveand Jaylen Brown (JB) is due back this month. Staley is playing like a monster!! They should be in the Top 5

BrunoBars

January 2nd, 2013
1:18 pm

North Cobb Girls soundly beat the #4 and #7 Teams in South Carolina and lost to defending North Carolona state champion Millbrook, which has 8 seniors signed to play college ball. PG going to Wake Forest, 2 twin 6′2 sisters signed with Syracuse. Post player signed with UNC Willmington.

Todd Holcomb

January 2nd, 2013
2:16 pm

Thanks for the info. Yeah, I was aware that Wheeler hasn’t been playing w/ their full deck. Glad to hear that Staley is playing. Good that he’s keeping his options open. He was impressive at QB last fall.

Hubert Green

January 2nd, 2013
4:31 pm

On the boys side, it appears to be wide open this year. Tift Co., Norcross, Wheeler, North Cobb, would be in my top 5. North Gwinnett is right there but very young; Westlake not far away; Collins Hill is up and coming; P Ridge lots of talent; Milton would have been right there. Shiloh is very good if the big boy wakes up and starts dominating.

peter

January 2nd, 2013
7:34 pm

Wheeler is #1 …don’t believe me just ask the fans of GA and coach Lipscomb is national high school coach of year

SOUTH GA. BBALL

January 3rd, 2013
7:03 am

I was told Archer had one of the soo-called best point guards in the state. He had 2pts in a lost to Valdosta. He was outplayed by Valdosta’s Rashad Lewis, a 5′8 junior who had 40pts against Archer. Valdosta has a back court of Rashad Lewis and Clarence Smith who both avg. 30pts a game in the Tifton McDonalds Christmas Tourney. Valdosta lost to Mill Creek by 3 while having 4 players suspended for the game. The 4 players returned the next night as Valdosta beat Archer 91-75 and Johnson Savannah 81-79. (Rashad Lewis had 40 against Archer and 34 against Johnson Savannah. Clarence Smith had 24 against Mill Creek, 29 against Archer and 33 against Johnson Savannah.)

Titletown USA

January 3rd, 2013
9:06 am

Just to back up South Ga BBall…Valdosta is really playing some impressive ball at this point…I initially though that Tift would run away with R1 this year, but I think it will get interesting for a game or two. I would still pick Tift to come out at #1 seed come tournament time.

South Georgia Coach

January 3rd, 2013
11:14 am

Top 5 should be these teams not sure which order Wheeler, Tift Co, Norcross, North Cobb, Hillgrove, even though Maxpreps has Tift Co ranked #1. Valdosta is going to be a problem. Right now I would consider them somewhere rounding out the top 10 either 9 or 10 definately a honorable mention right now. They will cause some teams headaches in the state playoffs especially if they can secure home court advantage for a few rounds. Valdosta’s weakness and what will eventually be their downfall is guard Clarence Smith makes horrible decisions. Shot selection and decisions down the stretch is why they didnt beat Mill Creek in the Tifton McDonalds Christmas Tourney. Valdosta’s Rashad Lewis is the real deal to only be 5′8″. He’s like a poor man’s Iverson or Louis Williams. Tift Co, is talented but they have no inside post offense what so every, they dont even attempt to post anyone up, they score off of jump shots, driving to the basket and fast breaks generated from their press. They lost to Callaway of Mississippi in City of Palms Classic because the jump shots werent falling. Tift Co is also vunerable to fast guards with quick hands on defense.

basketballnut

January 3rd, 2013
1:13 pm

I agree with you @southgeorgia coach… all five of those teams are great.. Except North Cobb will fall of.. they dont and wont have strong enough rebounding to stay among the elites. Tift, Wheeler & Norcross will be hard to beat. I havnt seen Valdosta. Hillgroves Coach isnt ready for that big stage yet. Shiloh aint deep enough.

Wildcat

January 3rd, 2013
2:30 pm

This year Wheeler is a major contender. Someone better win it this year, because the next couple of years they have no chance! Wheeler will dominate the state and go back-to-back in 2014 and 2015. You heard it here first!

basketballnut

January 3rd, 2013
2:49 pm

@Todd Holcomb yes Staley is quite an athelete & very underated in both sports. The Wheeler team will be fun to watch with the 3 new additions. Watch out for them.. Also They should win the region in football next year as well..

DOSTA DAWG

January 3rd, 2013
3:25 pm

@ SOUTH GEORGIA COACH – The Mill Creek game was a bad game for Valdosta. Smith had to do alot with the absence of Rashad Lewis and the other players suspended.

I believe Valdosta will beat Tifton once, but Tifton is still the team to beat. I think their problem is they may be alittle too overcoached. Valdosta is not very skilled, but they play hard and their press wears teams down. Lewis and Smith work well together in the backcourt, but the team has no post game. However, they believe in what they do and they believe in their coach.

SOUTH GA. BBALL

January 3rd, 2013
3:31 pm

South Georgia Coach – I believe you have Clarence Smith confused with one of the other Valdosta guards. He is #22. He didnt play the point against Mill Creek. Smith carried Valdosta against Mill Creek.

South Georgia Coach

January 4th, 2013
7:43 am

SOUTH GA. BBALL – I know exactly who Clarence Smith is I’ve seen him make the same bad decision for years in school ball and elsewhere. It’s actually common knowledge among coaches who play against Valdosta. Especially if your team has one of the aggravating defensive players that can get under his skin. I didn’t say he played the point I said he was a guard. Against Mill Creek in the last 3 minutes of the game he dominated the ball, no one took a shot other than him. He effectively shot them out of the game and any chance on winning a close game. Several possessions he took/force bad shots, when he had shooters wide open on the other side of the court.

TiftBlueDevil

January 4th, 2013
9:50 am

I wonder when GHSA will make their ruling on Tift Co.’s investigation of undue influence of recruiting by their coach. Tift Co. would not be wining as many games if for not all of the transfers.

Smug

January 4th, 2013
10:08 am

Is Tift County still being investigated by the GHSA? Haven’t heard anything else about it.

TiftBlueDevil

January 5th, 2013
12:40 am

GHSA has not made their ruling yet. I do not know if that is a good or bad thing since it has been so long. Its south GA GHSA really doesn’t care what we do down here

Titletown USA

January 5th, 2013
7:04 pm

I agree with the notion that Tift Co success has been directly related to the coaches ability to recruit players to the area. Although it does bring the appearance of success, it has some underlying negative outcomes by alienating local talent and not developing cohesion. I can’t say that I hope they get punished though, because the metro Atlanta schools have been doing it forever, so it really brings some balance to the rural South GA area.

57Cat

January 6th, 2013
11:24 pm

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, “Watch out for Valdosta!” They blew away Lowndes 85-44; Lowndes may not be much, but the Cats put a16 point whuppin’ on Archer who is supposed to be good. We don’t play Tift until the last two Region games for the season, and by that time the Cats will be smokin’. (No wise cracks, please.)