Archive for February, 2013

M.L. King hires Cortez Allen of Newton as head football coach

M.L. King will introduce Cortez Allen as its head football coach Thursday at 6 p.m., Allen confirmed to AJC.com.

Allen, the head coach at Newton the past three seasons, was on staff at M.L. King for its first three seasons of football from 2002 to 2004. M.L. King was 3-7, 11-2 and 11-3 in those seasons, quickly becoming a state power under head coach Kenny Barrow.

‘’It’s definitely an honor being able to return,’’ Allen said. “I helped start the program, and I’m really excited on going back. The guys that followed the staff I was on have done a tremendous job. The program has grown and prospered.’’

M.L. King suspended coach Michael Carson before the 2012 season, and he later resigned. Rober Freeman took over and led M.L. King to an 11-1 finish and its third straight region championship.

Since Carson arrived in 2010, M.L. King has been known for its passing offenses under quarterbacks Jonquell Dawson and Monqauvious Johnson.

Allen said that he would maintain aspects of the …

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Boys semifinal previews: Cobb makes semifinal history … Norcross, Miller Grove, Columbia, GAC chase history … #1 Buford vs. #2 Savannah … #1 Eagle’s Landing vs. #2 South Atlanta

Here is a look at the 14 semifinal boys games slated for this weekend. Look for a girls preview later today.

Class AAAAAA

*Hillgrove vs. Wheeler (5:30 p.m. Saturday, Georgia Tech): Both are Cobb County schools, Wheeler rich in basketball tradition, Hillgrove making its first semifinal appearance six years after opening its doors. Wheeler won state titles in 1994, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2009 under coach Doug Lipscomb. The Wildcats are 21-8 this season, ranked No. 7, and winners of Region 5. Hillgrove, ranked fifth, is 26-4 overall, 13-2 since Jan. 11 with both losses to second-ranked North Cobb, which is in the other semifinal. (Cobb is the first county ever to put three teams in the boys semifinals in the highest classification.) Wheeler is full of blue-chip recruits, one of which, junior Elijay Staley, had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the 60-47 victory over sixth-ranked Peachtree Ridge in the quarters. Hillgrove is led by Kyle Castlin and B.J. Brown.

*North Cobb vs. Norcross

Continue reading Boys semifinal previews: Cobb makes semifinal history … Norcross, Miller Grove, Columbia, GAC chase history … #1 Buford vs. #2 Savannah … #1 Eagle’s Landing vs. #2 South Atlanta »

Star Savannah player injured in quarterfinal win, questionable for Buford game

Chris Cokley, the leading scorer and rebounder for Savannah’s second-ranked boys basketball team in Class AAA, is questionable for the semifinals against top-ranked Buford after being knocked unconscious in Wednesday’s game, the Savannah Morning News reported.

After getting a rebound, Cokely fell to the floor and hit his head in the first quarter of Savannah’s 61-57 victory over Washington County. He was unconscious, face down for several minutes, the newspaper reported. He later walked off the court but did not return to the game and was hospitalized for a CAT scan.

“From what I saw, he got undercut and then hit his head,” teammate Jovante Spivey told the newspaper. “I saw his eyes rolling back and he was fidgeting and twitching. I wanted to break down right then, but I knew I had to stay strong for the team.”

Messages to coach Tim Jordan’s cell phone could not be sent Thursday morning because his mailbox was full.

The Savannah-Buford game will be played at Armstrong Atlantic …

Continue reading Star Savannah player injured in quarterfinal win, questionable for Buford game »

DeShields named Naismith national girls player of the year

Norcross senior Diamond DeShields is the Naismith girls high school player of the year. It is the second national player-of-the-year honor for DeShields in two days.

The Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association (WBCA) announced tabbed DeShields as its national player of the year on Monday.

DeShields, who is seeking to win a third state title in four seasons at Norcross, is the first Georgia girls player to win the Naismith award since Maya Moore of Collins Hill in 2006 and 2007. Georgia’s only other Naismith girls winner was Kiesha Brown of Woodward Academy in 1996.

A  6-foot-2 shooting guard, DeShields is averaging 26 points, seven  rebounds, 4.5 steals and 3.8 assists. Norcross will play Langston Hughes on Saturday at Georgia Tech in the Class AAAAAA semifinals.

Last summer, DeShields led lead Team USA to a gold medal in the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championships. She was named the tournament’s MVP.

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Jackson promotes line coach Myricks

Dary Myricks is the new football coach at Jackson in Butts County, principal Jay Homan announced Thursday.

Myricks, who had been the defensive line coach under former coach Mike Parris, is a Jackson alumnus who was an all-conference lineman at The Citadel, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and played seven season of arena league ball. Myricks also is a lead guidance counselor and assistant athletics director at his alma mater.

“We are very excited about the new direction of our football program at Jackson High School,” said Principal Jay Homan. “Coach Myrick’s interpersonal skills and overall disposition have allowed him to develop productive working relationships with students, parents, and the Jackson community. I have been consistently impressed by both his football experience and his commitment to our students. We look forward to the leadership that he will provide for the Red Devils football program.”

Jackson was 6-5 last season and 123-67 in 18 seasons under Parris, …

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AAAA Boys Basketball: South Atlanta 78, Alexander 68

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Even though this was Alexander’s first trip to the state playoffs in a half-dozen years, and its deepest penetration in the tournament in recent memory, the Cougars still had the attention and respect of longtime South Atlanta head coach Michael Reddick, prior to Wednesday’s second-round playoff game.

And after Alexander turned a four-point deficit late in the second quarter into a 38-34 halftime lead, Reddick knew his concern was well-founded. But neither he nor his team panicked. The result was a 78-68 win for the Hornets, who advance to the Class AAAA semi finals on Saturday against Eagles Landing (26-5).

“We adjusted our defense at the end of the second quarter and it backfired on us,” Reddick said. “At halftime we told them that we just needed to calm down and stay focused and things would fall back into place for us. But that Alexander team is a scrappy bunch.”

Indeed, the Cougars stayed close all night. South Atlanta regrouped at …

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GAC 77 Manchester 52 Boys Class AA Quartertfinals

By Robert Haddocks

Most of Greater Atlanta Christian’s current players “weren’t instrumental” when Manchester ended the Spartans’ quest for their third straight title in last season’s Final 8, coach Eddie Martin said. But that didn’t stop GAC from playing a tune on the Blue Devils, as the Spartans thrashed Manchester, 77-52, in the Class AA quarterfinals.

Players – and certainly coaches  - tend to downplay the revenge factor. But the Spartans made it clear. They had a mission in mind all week. “That was our initial motivation, no doubt about it,” Martin said.

“We already had in our heads that we wanted to beat them and beat them by a lot,” said point guard Collin Swinton. “We had a bad game last year. But they can’t play with us.”

After a breakneck first quarter that saw the teams tied at 20-20, GAC settled down and sent that very message to Manchester, which had no answer for GAC’s Isaiah Wilkins. The 6-6 junior was a monster, finishing with 21 points, 20 rebounds and eight …

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AAAAAA quarterfinals: Wheeler pushes past Peachtree Ridge

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Wheeler had survived one last challenge from Peachtree Ridge, and the chant began from the Wildcats’ raucous student section.

“Drive home safely. Drive home safely.”

Peachtree Ridge was headed home. Wheeler’s headed to the Final Four, again.

Elijah Staley led all scorers with 17 points, most coming on emphatic dunks, and the host Wildcats rolled past Peachtree Ridge, 60-47, in quarterfinal action Wednesday night at The Lip.

Wheeler will face the Hillgrove at 5:30 p.m., Saturday at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion. It’s the ninth Final Four appearance for the Wildcats under coach Douglas Lipscomb.

Staley had five dunks, including one to open the fourth quarter that put Wheeler up 51-37. The junior was the best athlete on the floor. He went baseline and threw down a left-hander with no one challenging him at the rim.

“Elijah played like he’s capable of playing, like he’s played all year,” said Lipscomb.

The Wildcats’ lead would grow to 16 on an …

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AAAA boys: Columbia 50, Marist 41

For one half, it was the Taaj Shamsid-Deen Show for Columbia, as the senior scored 15 of his team’s 19 points.

The problem – his Eagles only led Marist by 4.

His teammates got involved after that, leaving him with just one second-half field goal and a fourth straight trip to the state semifinals with a 50-41 home win.

When Marist completed a 9-0 run with a short Cam Wiley basket to start the second half, just three players had scored all of Columbia’s points.

Shamsid-Deen had been brilliant, but Columbia coach Kerry Sandifer knew his team probably couldn’t win if his best player had to score 40 in order to do it.

“I knew that we needed to get some other people involved,” Sandifer said. “What we told them was to play around Taaj, penetrate and make themselves available. They were kind of standing around. Once we started doing that, we were able to get some good shots.”

From that point, Columbia (26-3) went on an 11-2 run, with four different players scoring for the Eagles …

Continue reading AAAA boys: Columbia 50, Marist 41 »

Wednesday basketball quarterfinals roundup

Boys

Class AAAAAA

Hillgrove 57, Brunswick 46: Hillgrove and host Brunswick were tied with five minutes left in the fourth when the Hawks’ defense shut down Brunswick and Hillgrove hit 8-of-10 from the free throw line to escape with a victory. Kyle Castline led Hillgrove with 18 points and B.J. Brown scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to give Ed Morris’ team the victory.

Norcross 56, Berkmar 35: Norcross trailed Berkmar 13-10 after one quarter before the host Blue Devils ran off a 15-2 second quarter and never looked back. Jesse McMillan’s team then outscored Berkmar 31-20 in the second half of the victory. Terrence O’Donohue led Norcross with 19 points and Andre Chatfield added seven points. Senior guard Brandon Goodwin scored seven points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out eight assists in the victory.

North Cobb 68, Tift County 63: North Cobb rallied from a 52-45 deficit at the end of the third quarter behind 16 combined points in the final period from Lee …

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Class AAAAAA girls: Norcross 76, Cherokee 43

Fourth-ranked Cherokee quite simply had no answer for Shayla Cooper and Diamond DeShields in the third round of the Class AAAAAA girls basketball tournament.

The two Norcross stars combined for 62 points as the third-ranked Blue Devils coasted to a 76-43 victory at Cherokee on Tuesday to advance to a semifinal matchup with Langston Hughes at 4 p.m. Saturday at Georgia Tech.

Cooper, who has signed with Georgetown, scored a season-high 34 points, including 22 in a first half in which she outscored the entire Cherokee team 22-17.

“She’s a hoss underneath,” Norcross coach Angie Hembree said of Cooper. “She can get it done, absolutely.”

DeShields, a North Carolina signee, had 18 second-half points and finished with 28. Both played sparingly in the fourth quarter, which was shortened to six minutes because of the mercy rule.

Norcross (26-5) survived a double-overtime game against second-ranked Parkview in the second round but had no such trouble against the Warriors. The Blue Devils …

Continue reading Class AAAAAA girls: Norcross 76, Cherokee 43 »

AAA girls: St. Pius 56, Buford 43

Armed with a great game plan and a team loaded with girls willing to stick with it, No. 3 St. Pius knocked off No. 1 Buford on Tuesday and earned a spot in the Class AAA semifinals.

The Buford players towered over the Pius players in terms of size, but the Golden Lions used their quickness and a sensational effort from sophomore Asia Durr in a 56-43 win before a stunned crowd at the Wolves Den in Buford.

Durr, the Region 6-AAA player of the year, scored 32 points and had seven rebounds for St. Pius, which faces Chapel Hill in the semifinals in Savannah. She had 11 points in the fourth quarter, including 9-for-9 at the line.

“Our game plan was to limit her, but she hit jump shot after jump shot,” said Buford coach Gene Durden. “We ran our denial defense and a triangle-and-two, but she hit shot after shot. She’s a good player.”

St. Pius (28-3) had plenty of other strong contributors, too. MacKenzie Garrison had three 3-pointers and scored nine points. Jasmine Carter scored eight …

Continue reading AAA girls: St. Pius 56, Buford 43 »

Class AAAA girls: Jonesboro 51, Howard-Macon 39

For three quarters, Jonesboro and Howard-Macon traded blows.

Then Jonesboro landed the haymaker for a 51-39 win in the Class AAAA girls quarterfinals, earning their second straight state semifinal appearance and third in five years.

The Lady Cardinals (26-4) held visiting Howard (20-8) to three points in the final seven minutes and put the game away with an 11-1 run in the fourth, sparked by seven points from leading scorer Briana Benson.

“We just had to push the ball up the floor,” said Benson, who scored a game-high 16 points. “They were running up and trying to trap, and we just passed the ball.”

Michelle Smith scored 12 points and Raven Wynn 10 for Jonesboro.

Jonesboro, which won its 18th straight game, led 22-18 at the half, and Howard pulled within a point three times in the third period, the last coming on a 3-pointer by Erica Moore with just over a minute left in the quarter.

The Lady Huskies, the second seed from Region 2-AAAA, pulled even in the opening minute of the …

Continue reading Class AAAA girls: Jonesboro 51, Howard-Macon 39 »

Class AAAAA girls: Miller Grove 50, Tucker 40

By Adam Krohn

For the AJC

Miller Grove’s chance at back-to-back state titles is intact, thanks to persistence and a late-game charge against Tucker on Tuesday in the Class AAAA girls quarterfinals.

Led by senior guard Katie Hunt, the Lady Wolverines surged to a 50-40 victory to advance to Saturday’s semifinals at Kennesaw State University. They’ll play the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal game between Thomas County Central and Effingham.

Miller Grove (25-5) trailed the Lady Tigers by as many as nine points in the second half before closing the game on a 22-11 run. Hunt was the key in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points on 6-of-6 free-throw shooting and coming up with two crucial steals with less than two minutes to play. Her two free throws with 11.9 seconds pushed the Lady Wolverines’ lead into double figures for the game’s final score.

“We took Tucker lightly, and we shouldn’t have,” said Hunt, who had a team-high 13 points. “The second half, we just had to come out …

Continue reading Class AAAAA girls: Miller Grove 50, Tucker 40 »

Tuesday basketball quarterfinals roundup

By Score Atlanta

GIRLS

Class AAAAAA

Langston Hughes 57, Valdosta 56 F/OT: Langston Hughes went on the road to pick up a quarterfinal victory at Valdosta but not before needing overtime to finish off the Wildcats. Hughes held an early lead and took a 10-point advantage to halftime, only to see Valdosta claw back with an 18-8 third quarter. After the two teams each scored nine points in the fourth quarter, Borato Broughton’s Panthers were able to slip past Valdosta in the extra frame 8-7.

North Gwinnett 55, Alpharetta 41: Host North Gwinnett held a 22-13 lead at halftime and held Alpharetta’s Kylee Smith to just 13 points. Lexie Brown paced the Bulldogs with 17 points, four rebounds and five assists while Peyton Whitted scored 15 points and added 10 rebounds. Joshlyn Belcher scored eight points and Stephanie Amichia grabbed 10 rebounds for North Gwinnett.

Class AAAAA

Forest Park 51, Hardaway 44, OT: Forest Park led early  at Hardaway, then watched as the hosts battled back to …

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