By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Next week we’ll go full blast with basketball blogs three days a week, — Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For now, here’s your weekly hoop fix.
Out of the gate quick
Two teams that excelled last season are off to quick starts so far, as is another team that had an average year. George Walton Academy is 5-0 after finishing last season 24-5, including a 15-0 run through Region 8. The Bulldogs lost to eventual private school runner-up Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in the second round of the state tournament. Turner County went 20-6 last season and advanced to the public school quarterfinals before falling to Wilkinson County in double overtime (76-74). The Rebels are 2-0 thus far with junior forward Taylor Daniels and sophomore guard Mylayshia Yancey leading the charge. Meanwhile, Mt. Zion-Carrollton is 4-1 after finishing last season 14-11.
St. Francis, SACA test themselves early
The two private school finalists from last season – runner-up Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy and champion St. Francis – are preparing themselves to make another run at the championship by taking on some of the top teams in the state regardless of classification. SACA is 4-2 with the two loses coming at the hands of defending Class AAAAA champion Southwest DeKalb (6-0), 70-64 in overtime on Nov. 29, and last week to Buford (57-55), a Class AAA quarterfinalist last season. St. Francis is 3-0 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. The Knights will travel to Stephenson, another Class AAAAA Elite Eight team last season, on Saturday. SACA and St. Francis will meet once in the regular season, Jan. 17, at St. Francis.
Early season showdowns
Along with tonight’s St. Francis (4-0) at Whitefield Academy (2-0) matchup, there will be two more big-time December games on Saturday. Defending private school champion Greenforest Academy (4-1) will face defending Class AAAAAA champion Norcross (2-2) at 3:30 p.m., and St. Francis will take on Class AAAAA Miller Grove, winners of five consecutive state championships, at 8 p.m., in the Blue Collar Basketball Showcase at Greater Atlanta Christian School.
Out of the gate quick, Part 2
Two perennially strong programs are off the fast starts, as are two more looking for respectability this season. Turner County, the defending Region 2 champions who went 21-5 last season and advanced to the public school quarterfinals last season, is 2-0 and averaging over 80 points per game behind dynamic junior guard Quan Hillmon. North Cobb Christian is 40-6 over the last two seasons. The Eagles are 5-1 so far with the lone loss coming at the hands of Tucker, last season’s Class AAAAA runner-up. Meanwhile, Mt. Vernon Presbyterian is 4-0 in its second season of varsity competition. The Mustangs were 9-6 last season. Tallulah Falls, located in the north Georgia mountains near the Tennessee border, is 4-0 after going just 4-33 the last two seasons.