Glory days are back: Savannah boys teams go 5-0 in first round

Savannah schools have won 19 state titles in boys basketball, but none since 1998.  Perhaps the glory days are coming back. Savannah schools went 5-0 Wednesday, their best-ever showing in the first round.

Two of those schools  – Beach and Windsor Forest – upset region champions on the road. The other three  – Savannah, Johnson and Jenkins – are ranked in the Top 10 with serious hopes of giving Chatham County public schools their first basketball state champion in 15 years.

The reason? One is that Savannah schools are no longer choosing to compete in the highest classification with smaller enrollment numbers.

For years, the Savannah schools played up in class by choice. The idea was to have them in one class, one region, and save on travel costs, even if it meant little chance at a state championship in any sport.

The GHSA’s move to six classifications this academic year prompted the school board to let its schools play where they belong enrollment-wise. Now, Groves, Jenkins and Windsor Forest are in AAAAA (the second-highest class).  Beach, Johnson and Savannah are in AAA along with newly opened New Hampstead and Islands.

Savannah’s basketball schools always managed to do pretty well despite the handicap of playing bigger schools.

In 2012, Savannah was a surprising Class AAAAA runner-up to Milton despite AA enrollment. In 2006, Beach stunned defending champion and nationally ranked Wheeler in the semifinals, but couldn’t pull off two near-miracles in two days. The Bulldogs were outmatched by Jodie Meeks’ Norcross team 66-49 in the championship game.

Savannah coach Tim Jordan, whose team was the last from South Georgia to win a state title in the highest class in ’98, remains defiant, saying ‘’you always want to play the best.’’

‘’I still think we can win a state championship in any division,’’ he said. “Our goal is always to win state, and I think kids rise to your expectations. Don’t get me wrong. There’s good competition in AAA, but you don’t play a Milton or a Norcross with three or four major college prospects. They’re not going to have two or three of those guys [in AAA]. They might have one.’’

But it’s no coincidence that Savannah has five schools in the round of 16 this year. In 2012, only Savannah among Savannah schools advanced past the first round.

On Wednesday in AAAAA, Windsor Forest, which was only 10-17 entering the tournament, stunned ninth-ranked Northside-Warner Robins 69-60 and led by as much as 20 points in the third quarter, according to the Savannah Morning News. Windsor Forest is in the second round for the first time since 2004 and could make the quarterfinals for the first time since the 1995 final four team.

In AAA, Beach defeated Region 4 champion Callaway 80-71 in overtime as Rashad Cummings scored 32 points, eight in the extra period. It was Beach’s first playoff win in six years.

Savannah, ranked No. 2 in AAA, beat Chapel Hill 69-36 while third-ranked Johnson made the second round for only the second time in 20 years, drubbing Rockmart 71-36. No. 10 Jenkins of AAAAA beat Evans 71-61 and is one victory from making the quarterfinals for the first time since 1973.

Savannah boys state champions:

1930 Savannah

1931 Savannah

1932 Savannah

1937 Savannah

1941 Savannah

1946 Savannah

1947 Savannah

1953 Beach*

1963 Beach*

1964 Beach*

1965 Beach*

1967 Beach

1968 Johnson

1972 Savannah

1974 Savannah

1976 Savannah

1980: Tompkins

1992 Johnson

1998 Savannah

*Won in Georgia Interscholastic Association. Rest are GHSA.

25 comments Add your comment

Savannah Fan

February 21st, 2013
11:50 am

Let’s go SAVANNAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


February 21st, 2013
1:45 pm

The 92 Johnson team beat Statesboro in the finals that year. Didn’t Savannah win it all in 2001 as well, beating Marietta?

Hubert Green

February 21st, 2013
1:57 pm

No Stinger, Bermkar completed back to back state chmpionships that year. One thing about Savannah; no team ever plays harder than they do.

Hubert Green

February 21st, 2013
1:58 pm

Hubert Green

February 21st, 2013
1:59 pm

Wow, one more time; it was Berkmar. Savannah had beaten them for the 1998 state title.


February 21st, 2013
2:07 pm


Max Sizemore

February 21st, 2013
2:24 pm

That ‘67 Beach team had a HUGE amount of talent — 12 of 15 guys dunking in warmups (I counted). And then Joby Wright showed up the next year.

Savannah hoopers

February 21st, 2013
2:25 pm

This the first time I see The SAV getting respect I think everyone still think Buford will win because they are from ATL. Like I said before Savannah High is the most under rated team in the State. Right now we easy have 5 D2 players and above on our team but the buzz is always about one player for Johnson. I have listed all the championship we have won (3 regions and 3 different holiday classic) in three years and a state runner-up. Tim Jordan is a great coach; however we have great players all the coaching in the world dont mean a thing if you dont have the players to excute the plan. I have love for Tim but greater love for the players. It there blood sweat and tears on the court every nite.

Johnny Too Good

February 21st, 2013
2:41 pm

One thing about the Savannah schools vs metro Atl schools like Milton and Buford is that all the kids our in their district, fresh outta the neighborhoods and not a bunch of D1 transfers.
Now that everyone is in their correct classification things are alot different. In previous decades all these schools would have been in the same region knocking each other off. Now everybody can get a run. I hope they all make the final four in their regions

Johnny Too Good

February 21st, 2013
2:42 pm


February 21st, 2013
3:10 pm

Hubert, you’re right. Savannah beat Marietta in the semis as Berkmar beat Glynn Academy and Kwame Brown in the other semis.


February 21st, 2013
3:21 pm

912 STAND UP!!

South GA doin well

February 21st, 2013
4:47 pm

What about the Effingham County Rebels? They were 4-1 against Jenkins and Windsor this year. Calvary Day will also make noise in the tournament next year because they are returning every member of their core. H Green was right. Tim Jordan’s guys, Simmons’ kids for Beach and Jenkins play very hard. I havent seen Johnson play so I cant vouch for them

BlueJacket 8T8

February 21st, 2013
10:08 pm

Tim Jordan has put out consistently good teams. Sure, talent is important, but he works with what he has and makes great teams. I am hoping for Johnson vs Savannah IV (and of course, a win by SHS) GO BLUEJACKETS!!!

I can only wonder what would have happened with Savannah sports in the 80’s if we could have played in our proper classification. Our football program was solid and we did well in the city only to lose to 2000 student schools in neighboring counties. It’s a shame that the school board did that to so many student athletes. I bet the money they saved cost many of us athletic scolarships worth untold $$$.


February 22nd, 2013
12:10 am

T H: good article…Beach/Savannah were the kingspins of hi school BB in the 60/70’s…opponents better be prepared or go home… Semi-finals will be at Savannah State College and I am sure they do not want to miss the party when it come thru on way to Macon…

Johnny Too Good

February 22nd, 2013
7:26 am

“I can only wonder what would have happened with Savannah sports in the 80’s if we could have played in our proper classification. Our football program was solid and we did well in the city only to lose to 2000 student schools in neighboring counties. It’s a shame that the school board did that to so many student athletes. I bet the money they saved cost many of us athletic scholarships worth untold $$$.”

Had to re post for emphasis

Arthur Redding, Jr.

February 22nd, 2013
11:23 am

Savannah schools were put at a huge disadvantage by their administation for the last 15 years. Savannah High, for example, with about 700 students had to compete in football against Camden County, with about 2700 students. Savannah schools simply could not compete with schools with much higher enrollments.

Basketball talent has always been strong over there, so the Savannah schools did OK despite the enrollment numbers. Now that these school have been moved into AAA and AAAAA, you can expect Savannah to be a dominant force in basketball.

sports fan

February 22nd, 2013
2:20 pm

@Max….I remember that “67 Beach team. I believe they won state by 30 and except for Johnson no one played them close. Gator Rivers, Roger Moore led a very talented team. All 5 starters played college ball.

Blue Jacket 1981

February 22nd, 2013
8:15 pm

The 67 Beach team was so talented,Gator Rivers was actually the sixth man.He was not a starter.


February 23rd, 2013
12:56 am

The Richard Arnold Eagles went to four straight state Finals, winning in’77 and ‘79. Also from Savannah so that is 21

Still a Dawg Fan

February 23rd, 2013
3:24 pm

Don’t forget that Richmond Hill won the Class “A” State Title in 88-93-94 so that makes it 24

Still a Dawg Fan

February 23rd, 2013
3:29 pm

Also don’t forget that Bible Baptist won the Class “A” State Title in 86 so that makes it 25


February 23rd, 2013
6:49 pm

Although Savannah has proven that we can compete in any classification, the move down in classification has been good for each of our programs. We can have wider impact in the State of Georgia with our talent in more than just one classification. Our chances of advancing in more than one sport are now a reality, seeing what Johnson High did in football this past season, when they advanced to the second round in AAA and giving top ranked and undefeated Thomson a run for their money before yielding a 35-19 decision at Thomson. The move will help our girls teams to get more exposure as well. Overall, more fans will attend games, now that the teams are more competitive, and I am really excited about that.

"Tabby" Paige

February 25th, 2013
6:05 am

Being one of the student/atbletes that played High School Basketball in Savannah during the late 60″s and had to plaly against the Gator Rivers, Joby jWrights, Andrew Knowles,Edward Daniels and others. We just kept the tradition going. Before us was great players like Mervin Jackson, Herman “Bully-Wooly” Bryant, James Holmes, Edward Days, Lucious LaVette and so many others. It was every boy to be like one of those guys. The Recreation Department in Savannah was and still is great. They put the sports out there and the Citizens get out and Coach whatever to give the kids something to do. To sum it all up, talent is very heavy in the Savannah area.


February 26th, 2013
9:34 pm

Max Sizemore, Joby Wright played for the Johnson team that won the title in 1968.