South Atlanta lost seven of its top nine players off of last season’s squad. But the two returnees are exceptional.
Senior guards Costa Anderson and Derrick Byrd were all-region selections last season and are off to hot starts for the Hornets, who head into the holiday tournament season at 5-1. Anderson and Byrd came through in the clutch to help South Atlanta come from behind and beat Lithonia in the Region 6-AAAA opener.
“We were down by five points with three minutes left to go,” recalled Hornets coach Michael Reddick. “My veteran guards stepped up, got a couple steals, made some smart plays, and we were fortunate enough to beat them down the stretch. “
Anderson is averaging 21-22 points per game, said Reddick, and Byrd is averaging around 17 points and seven assists.
Reddick will find out a lot more about his team at next week’s Wild Wing Café HS Hoop’s Class in Charlotte, N.C. South Atlanta opens that tournament Dec. 27 against the No. 1 team in the nation, Montverde (Fla.) Academy.
Montverde, the defending national champion in Max Preps rankings, began the season with seven seniors committed to Division I programs. The Eagles beat defending Georgia AAAAAA champion Norcross, 84-47, in November.
“They have kids from Australia, Canada, everywhere. They’re like a college team,” said Reddick of Montverde. “We’re just a little neighborhood school. But that’s why they play the game. We’ll go in there and give it our best shot.”
Smart and charismatic, Griffin quarterback Jaquez Parks was one of the true stars of the football season. The story of his family home being robbed, while he was a way leading the Bears to the state championship is simply awful. The Griffin Booster Club is collecting donations at this website. Please contribute.
I am in touch with the Griffin Police Department and hope to have an update Thursday. I’ll also have more on my impressions from the Parks’ amazing performance in the state championship game against Carrollton on Thursday.
Happy holidays to all and thanks for another enjoyable season covering Georgia high school football.
–David Purdum / For the AJC