Class A Basketball Blog: SACA, St. Francis girls headed for final rematch? Early boys showdown next week: St. Francis at Whitefield Academy

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

For all the hoop heads out there, as previously announced, the Tuesday Prep Zone blogs are devoted to basketball until the football champions are crowned. So here’s a quick look at some early season happenings on the hardwood.


SACA, St. Francis final again?
Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy and St. Francis are off to quick starts as both look to get back to the private school title game, which St. Francis won last season. The teams sit on opposite sides of Region 6 and split with each other prior to the Knights winning the title game in Macon. This season, SACA is 3-1 with the only loss coming at the hands of defending Class AAAAA champion Southwest DeKalb (4-0), 70-64 in overtime last Friday. St. Francis is 2-0 with wins over Jonesboro (69-43), a Class AAAA semifinalist last season, and Tucker (57-56 in OT), which advanced to the Class AAAAA Elite Eight. SACA and St. Francis will meet once in the regular season, Jan. 17, at St. Francis.

Towns County rolling early
Towns County, which went 26-5 last season while advancing to the public school semifinals, is off to a 3-0 start with blowout wins over Blue Ridge of North Carolina (91-31), and two AAAAA teams – Winder-Barrow (50-32) and Apalachee (54-29). Towns County will be without its top player, senior guard Eryn Cochran, possibly until the Region 8 tournament in February. Cochran, who has signed early with Columbus State, is recovering from a severe ankle injury, according to the Towns County Herald. However, junior guards Stephanie Patton and Karlie Albach, along with sophomore forward Jocelyn Byers have stepped up to fill the void.

Diamond on a mission
Down in Miller County, tucked into the southwest corner of the state, senior Mallory Diamond enters the season as one of the state’s top scorers. In fact, she could break the school scoring record, which has stood for 40 years. On a team with few scoring options, Diamond scored more than 600 points last season to bring her career total to over 1,400. The record of 2,295 was set in 1974 by Marianne Melton, who went on to star at Auburn, where she scored close to 2,000 points from 1975-1979.


Early season showdown
St. Francis, last season’s private school runner-up to Greenforest Christian, and Whitefield Academy, the 2012 state champion, are set for an early-season tussle next Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Whitefield Academy. St. Francis, off to a 4-0 start behind sophomore point guard Kobi Simmons, won two of the three meetings between the two Region 6 foes last season. Whitefield took a bit of a step back last season but have three of the best players in Class A in seniors Eric Lockett, Berto Dryden and Jesse Byrd.

“Beast” at Athens Christian
Junior guard Will “Turtle” Jackson has been the “beast” for the Athens Christian, leading the Eagles to the state finals as a freshman and to the semifinals last season, where they were edged by eventual champion Greenforest Christian. But with Jackson on the shelf for at least the first month of the season to recover from a knee injury, Athens Christian will turn to 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward Chris “The Beast” Tate, a junior who transferred to the school this year from South Carolina. Tate, who plays tight end for the football team, is working himself into basketball shape, along with fellow junior Demetrius McWhorter, the Eagles’ leading rebounder last season.

Portal back for another run
Another team to watch this season is Portal, located just off I-16 between Macon and Savannah. The Panthers are 47-12 over the last two seasons and advanced to the public school Final Four last season. Portal will again be led by guard Stacey Morgan, a candidate for Class A Player of the Year. He will be backed up by a talented lineup that features seniors Robert Lee, Marquise Wells and Keyante Robinson, along with Metter transfers Harrison Sherrod and Trent Thomas.

10 comments Add your comment

Swap Lizard

December 4th, 2013
12:16 pm

Hey !! ….. the basketball blog is on fire !! ;)

JT Walker

December 4th, 2013
3:22 pm

Hey, Swamp. Go watch some Pisgah or Aquinas film and leave us wanna be’s alone. Everyone knows basketball is a more refined sport and it takes a little time compose all the concise, erudite posts that are typical of the basketball bloggers.


December 4th, 2013
4:05 pm

There’s a freshman girl #1 @ Greenforest Christian averaging 20 +points a game…somebody needs to check her out…

Swamp Lizard

December 4th, 2013
4:50 pm

@ JT Walker …. I was just “gigging”. Hope you have been doing fine …. I’ve missed you on the football blogs.

Dekalb Co

December 5th, 2013
11:01 am

@Peart I’ve seen her play and she is the truth. Crazy, that she’s only a freshman too. Don’t expect anybody from the AJC to show the eastside any love though. Remember last year they didn’t show the boys over there any love until they won the state. smh

atlanta basketball

December 6th, 2013
5:39 pm

@dekalbco: Thats because with an enrollment of less than 100 students there is no way that Greenforest should have a starting lineup of 6′10, 6′8, 6′7′, 6′5, 6′3. Dang that’s one lucky coach to have all that “homegrown” talent there….aka shipped over from Africa…sit em out a year…and then dominate Class A.

D fin

December 7th, 2013
12:24 am

@atlanta basketball you are so right about Greenforest boys team no way they would have that talent at a small school like that, all from over seas what a joke!


December 7th, 2013
4:06 pm

Diamond is great athlete but her sport is track if she wants to soar high. Honorable mention on AJC Class A top players this year, but AJC 2nd team All State last year ?? is Brandi Buie by far the best guard in South Georgia .She’s at Randolph-Clay this year but led Calhoun to state and almost singlehanded beat Towns last year.

atlanta basketball

December 9th, 2013
2:55 pm

@dfin: yep. using players from overseas has become high school’s version of “buying a championship”. these kids are brought over and given academic scholarships, but are here to play basketball. yes its all techincally legal, but it ruins the heart of what high school sports is all about….the ability to win with what you got.


December 10th, 2013
3:51 pm

i see where grady football program is under investigation.i guess the have nots gets picked on.if no one is investigating Randolph-clay girls program for constantly illegally recruiting Calhoun county star player brandi buie, then the ghsa should close shop and don”t worry about illegal recruiting.certain schools like r/c has been recruiting for years and on one occasion, was reported but the ghsa ignored it so they should leave grady high school alone because they are inconsistent in handling cases if certain schools are involved