The Savannah boys basketball team didn’t quite finish the drill last year. The Blue Jackets reached the state championship game, but were tripped up by crosstown rival Johnson in the Class AAA final.
The roles may be reversed this year. Coach Tim Jordan’s team will be the team to beat this year. Savannah and Johnson split during the regular season and Savannah won the Region 1-AAA tournament. Johnson beat Savannah 61-51 in the state title game.
Savannah definitely has the horses coming back to make another run. The Blue Jackets have a pair of Div. I prospects back from last year’s 28-4 team: center Chris Cokley and guard Jamal Norman. Guard Jermaine Williams also returns for his junior season.
Cokley, a 6-foot-8 senior, was a first-team all-state selection last year when he averaged 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds. Norman averaged 11.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals. Cokley has signed with Alabama-Birmingham, while Norman will play for Savannah State.
Johnson, which went 25-6, lost LSU signee Tim Quarterman, guard Greg Mortimer and Saadiq Muhammad, but the Atom Smashers should again be in contention. Junior Rico Bonds is the most experienced returnee, along with Darrell Myers and Jamarey Lovett.
Other teams to watch this year include:
Morgan County: The Bulldogs took a disappointing early exit from the playoffs a year ago, but return the nucleus of the Region 8-AAA championship team. Morgan is led by senior forward C.J. Turman, who has committed to Tennessee, and junior point guard Tookie Brown, a first-team all-state selection. Morgan County lost only one region game and beat Franklin County to win the region tournament.
Washington County: The Golden Hawks are led by junior guard A.J. Gray, who helped his club reach the state quarterfinals, where they dropped a four-point decision to eventual state champion Savannah. The only hurdle that Washington County seemed unable to jump last year was Thomson; the two teams split during the regular season, but Thomson prevailed in the Region 3-AAA finale. Thomson returns guards Malique Gibbons and Felton Bradshaw, but graduated leading scorer Sherrod Hart.
Cartersville: Ryan Davis, a 6-3 senior guard, leads the returning group that went 27-2 a year ago. Davis was named the area’s player of the year after averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Also returning are 6-5 guard Corey Tobin (14.2 points, 83 3-pointers) and 6-0 guard A.J. Mosby (14.6 points, 78 steals), both seniors. The Canes won their first 24 games before being tripped up by Gordon Central. Cartersville did not have a senior on its roster and reached the second round of the playoffs before losing to St. Pius.
Buford: The Wolves went 25-7 and reached the semifinals last year before losing to Savannah. Buford returns three key players: seniors Matt McMorris and Justin Edwarsd and sophomore D’Marcus Simonds. But the biggest addition is senior forward Rakim Lubin, a 6-8 transfer from Alabama. Lubin averaged 19.6 points and 9.2 rebounds in Gadsden and has committed to UConn.
Woodward Academy: The War Eagles are coming off a 25-6 season that saw them win the Region 6-AAA title. Solomon Mangham, one of the league’s top players, graduated, but returning regulars Trey Williams and Terry Googer lead a deep team.