Friday, March 6, 2009

Class-by-class sectional previews

Here are Score Atlanta's complete previews for the sectional rounds:


No. 1 seed Turner County took care of Hancock Central in the second round and senior Ternell Davis will bring his 24 points per game when the Rebels take on Terrell County, recent victors over Aquinas. The Greenwaves, coached by John Davis, have two players who stand at least 6-foot-5 (Arle’k Brown and Robert Ellis) to play in the post against Ternell Davis. … Athens Christian is coming off its 20th straight victory, knocking off the North Cobb Christian Wolfpack, and will now face Region 7 champion Greenforest Christian. Three-sport star Raymond Higgs can jump out of the arena and his athleticism might take the Eagles straight to the title game. … Head coach Tyrone Johnson’s Whitefield Academy squad knocked off Paideia and now guard Brandon Reed will have the Wolfpack ready for Darlington. Reed averaged 20 points per game during the regular season and was especially strong down the stretch. The Tigers feature a 1-2 punch of senior Tyshawn Good and sophomore Tev’n Hamilton, who helped the Tigers claim the Region 6 title. … Finally, senior Brit Duncan and the Wilkinson County Warriors knocked off Greenville and will now face Wilcox County and 6-foot-7 Lonnie Outlaw. The Patriots knocked off George Turner and Cody Padgett of Calvary Day. Wilkinson enters the game with one of the hottest streaks in Class A, having now won nine straight and 16 of its last 17 games.



After a second round that featured multiple upsets, the Class A state tournament is now up for grabs. In perhaps the biggest marquee matchup of the third round, 2008 semifinalist Towns County will square off against the Wesleyan Wolves, new to Class A but winners of four of the past five Class AA titles. The Wolves are led by Ms. Georgia Basketball Anne Marie Armstrong, as well as junior Erin Hall. In the team’s second-round tilt with Darlington, Armstrong netted 19 points while Hall tallied 21 in an 80-32 win. Jim Melton’s Towns County squad is led by senior scoring machine Nikki Winn and sophomore sensation Jordan Moss. Look out for Missy Conrad as well. … Randolph-Clay, fresh off an impressive victory over Calvary Day, returns to the quarterfinals. Destiny Mitchell scored 33 of her team’s 72 points, so look for Emanuel County Institute to try and slow her down with high pressure. Donna Jones and Asha Alexander are also threats for Randolph-Clay. … When Savannah Country Day faces Region 4 champion Hancock Central in the quarterfinals, expect another big day from SCD senior Katherine Dotson. She averaged 14.7 points per game this season and tossed in 18 in a 55-40 win over Turner County last Tuesday. … Finally, Social Circle will face Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in the final quarterfinal contest. Martiza Heard contributed 20 points, as Social Circle ended Gordon Lee’s season. Expect Heard to receive help from Reyanna Williams and Jessica Hester when facing the 2006 state champions.

Fletcher Proctor can be reached at


Henry Co. won two of the three games played against the Greene County Tigers this year. Laricus Thomas is an offensive threat for the Warhawks, but fresh off an upset over Region 1-AA champ and top-seeded Thomasville, Greene County is set for a Region 4-AA rematch with Henry. The Warhawks beat the Tigers, 67-65, in the region semifinal. …  After stopping one No. 1 seed, Riverside Military Academy, Blessed Trinity looks to do the same against top-seeded Dade County. Led by senior guard Ryan LeGates, the Titans can turn up the defensive intensity. As for Dade County, the Wolverines proved they can grind out a win after their double-overtime victory against Callaway in Round 2. Dade’s guard duo of Travis Core and Andrew Houts scored 23 points apiece in the win. … Following a narrow three-point win in the first round, Dublin was back in form for an 18-point win over Long County in the second round. Senior shooting guard Chris Smith is a strong player for the Irish. Meanwhile, after rolling through Appling County in the second round by 26 points, Central Macon is poised to make a deep run in the tournament behind point guard Matthew Brabham, who scored 30 points in the Chargers’ latest win. … It’s been business as usual for Greater Atlanta Christian, coming off a three-point win over Chattooga in the second round. The Spartans have great scoring threats in Paul Dawson and Trent Wiedeman. Their opponent, Coosa, is coming off two double-digit victories in as many rounds. After beating GAC in the second round of the tournament last year, the Eagles hope to better the Spartans again this year.



Greene County and Henry County split their two regular-season matchups. Henry County features one of the best scorers in all of Class AA in Briana Williams. With a 27-point performance, Williams was pivotal in the team’s second-round win over Albany. Greene’s Whitney Jones will try to neutralize Williams’s scoring. … Strong defense and balanced scoring have helped Model to a 29-0 record on the year. Senior point guard Alexa Evans is an excellent scorer with good range. But after a surprising second-round loss last year, Greater Atlanta Christian has bounced back and is on to the quarterfinals. Led by a balanced scoring attack, the Spartans have an excellent guard combo in Chaney Means and Clarke Boards. … Laney and Northeast, Macon—two top-seeded teams—should provide one of the better matchups in the sectionals. Laney is well coached and can maintain a fast-paced style of play throughout the game, especially with sharpshooter Jermeka Gibson. NE Macon, meanwhile, will look to Keyerra Rozier for leadership and scoring. … For much of the year, Buford was regarded as arguably the best team in AA. The Lady Wolves are a defensive-minded team who look to run a full-court set. Blanche Alverson is the team’s most dominant player. Rabun County is one of two 3-seeds to make it to the sectionals, however. If another upset looms, it will most likely be behind the excellent scoring of Marina DeFoor.

Rajesh Gupta can be reached at


Washington County has won 15 of its past 16 games and the Golden Hawks have cruised through each of their past five outings by at least 14 points. Top-rated recruit Derrick Favors and South Atlanta, however, will present Washington County with an unprecedented test. The Hornets have not lost an in-state game this season and their two state tournament victories combined for a margin of 84 points. … Columbia, last year’s Class AAAA state champion, is riding a 13-game winning streak into the state quarterfinals and the Eagles have won 10 straight games by 20-plus. But they will have to watch out for an Elbert County team that has won 18 of 19 and boasts big man Rod Rucker, who is no stranger to double-doubles of 20-plus points and 20-plus rebounds. … After starting the season 5-7, Gainesville has now won 14 of their past 15 games, including the Region 7 title and two straight double-digit victories in the state tournament. Cedartown ended its regular season dropping five of nine but the Bulldogs will have “upset” on their minds after two impressive wins in the state tournament. … This is one of two quarterfinal clashes in AAA between fellow No. 1 seeds (along with South Atlanta vs. Washington County). Westover went 10-3 over the Region 1 regular season and avenged a previous loss to Kendrick in the region final. Northside, Columbus finished tied for second in Region 2 at 9-3, but came up big in the tournament. The Patriots are peaking at the right time, having won 11 of 12.



Dunwoody avenged two regular-season losses to Region 5 rival Columbia with an upset in the region tournament championship and the Wildcats have not looked back. Led by Madeline Teissler, Dunwoody overcame a 20-6 deficit to scrape past East Hall, 46-43, in Round 2. Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Dunwoody’s opponent, is undefeated in AAA play, but survived a 47-43 scare against St. Pius X in its tournament opener. … Peach County lost in the Region 1 semifinals but has since responded with three straight double-digit victories (two in the state tournament). Baldwin is 16-1 against AAA competition, but almost lost to Dougherty in the second round of the state tournament before prevailing 37-35. Shan Basley nailed the game-winning jumper as time expired. … Rutland knows a thing or two about winning close games: the Hurricanes pulled out a 73-68 thriller over Spalding to get the No. 3 seed in Region 4, and they have won two state tournament games (both on the road) by a combined four points. Kendrick, the Region 2 champion, is riding an eight-game winning streak into the quarterfinals. … This is the only quarterfinal matchup in AAA without a No. 1 seed, but both teams are playing like No. 1s. Carrollton’s only two losses have been to teams still alive in the state tournament (Baldwin and Lakeview-FO), while Columbia has won 14 of its past 15 games. The Eagles must contain Carrollton’s Karisma Boykins, who averages more than 28 points per game.

Ricky Dimon can be reached at



Bainbridge, led by senior point guard Marquis Williams, averaged 64.3 points per game this season. Williams is dangerous behind the 3-point line. Statesboro last lost on Jan. 31 (to Glynn Academy), however, and the Blue Devils then won seven straight games, including a 62-38 decision over Glynn Academy in the Region 2 championship. …. Marist and Tucker, two Region 6 foes, have already battled twice this season with Marist winning both contests. The War Eagles won 49-46 in overtime on Jan. 9 and 48-46 in the region tournament. Seniors J.J. Mann, Dee Goens and Kash Manzelli lead a War Eagles offense that averages 61.7 points per game. Tucker, which beat Lithia Springs and Region 7 champion Hillgrove in the postseason, is led by Virginia Tech signee Manny Atkins. … Senior center Ricardo Glenn has been a dominant force for Richmond Academy. In the Musketeers’ 57-44 second-round win over Brunswick, Glenn finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds. He has plenty of help with Ivan Rushen, Christian Nobles and Raston Brown. Glynn Academy was 1-2 against Brunswick this season but beat the Pirates 52-42 in the Region 2 tournament, so anything can happen in this matchup. … Fayette County is led by seniors Noel Johnson (a USC commitment) and Addison Flynn. During the regular season, Fayette County traveled to Illinois, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. The Tigers have been dominant in the playoffs, winning by an average margin of 24 points. Miller Grove has also won several out-of-state matchups. After a first-round thrashing of Sandy Creek, Georgia Tech signee Mfon Udofia and the Wolverines defeated Rockdale County, 73-59.



The jump from Class AAA to AAAA hasn’t slowed down Hephzibah as the Lady Rebels find themselves back in the Elite 8 after winning Region 3. The Rebels lean on the 1-2 punch of junior guard Aarika Judge and senior forward Kenya Drayton. Jonesboro posted a dominating 19-0 record in Region 1, as Joi Holyfield, Drameka Griggs and Jasmine Manning make the Cardinals nearly impossible to defend. … Northwest Whitfield was one of Southwest DeKalb’s victims on their road to the championship one year ago, losing 68-53 in the second round. Seniors Callie Thomas and Jasmine Thornton are out for revenge but they must slow down the Panthers who average 67 points per game. SW DeKalb is led by juniors Jada Williams, Alondra Rivers and Kayla Lewis. … Fayette County and Marist each have strong resumes that include tough schedules and big wins. Fayette County’s undefeated season includes out-of-state wins in Florida, New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina. Tessah Holt, who has signed with Florida, is one of the best point guards in the state and has a knack for hitting buzzer beaters. Marist, led by senior Whitney Hagan, has already defeated the defending champs (Southwest DeKalb) twice this season. … Breanna Harris, Kandyce Bush and Kelsie Weynand have already led fourth-seeded Hardaway to upsets over Effingham County and Dutchtown. Their next opponent, Bainbridge, is a familiar foe as the No. 1 seed in Region 1. Bainbridge defeated Hardaway, 65-56, in the region tournament. The Bearcats average 60.4 points per game.

Derek Wiley can be reached at


The Newnan Cougars stormed to a 25-3 overall record. Point guard Russell Powell leads the team with the ability to get in the lane. Alec Ogletree is also a solid scorer. Valdosta is known for its football, but the basketball team is making noise right now. Jay Rome, and Thoullit Hunter provide much of the offense. … Westlake’s Marcus Thornton is one of Class AAAAA’s top players and teammate Javoris Bryant is a talented swingman who can also score at an impressive clip. But while Savannah squeaked past Coffee, 67-65, in Round 2, the Blue Jackets are one of the hottest teams, winning 13 straight games. Senior Dwayne Sutton provides invaluable leadership at point guard, and Khiry Waldburg provides a solid low-post force. … Milton’s trio of sophomores (Shannon Scott, Dai-Jon Parker and Julian Royal) forms the nucleus of the Eagles; all are top-notch talents. They will face South Gwinnett, who beat a star-studded Centennial squad in double overtime in the second round. Look out for Adonis Harrison, who can score in bunches. Xavier Chargois is a fine distributor out of the backcourt. … In a rematch of last year’s state championship, powerhouses Norcross and Wheeler collide. Taariq Muhammad is the catalyst for three-time defending state champion Norcross, and is one of the state’s top playmakers. The Wildcats’ Richard Howell and Ari Stewart give opponents major matchup problems, while Phil Taylor runs the offense.



Redan has won all 24 games in its quest for an undefeated season. Alisha Andrews, one of the state’s most dangerous playmakers, leads the 2008 state runners-up, who may be even more talented this year. Bradwell Institute enters the game as underdogs, but the inside-outside combo of point guard Mariah Maternik and post players Seande Lee and Bryttnii Speight could create matchup problems. … South Carolina commit Monique Willis stars for Beach and is coming off a 25-point performance in Round 2. Khalilah Watson is also a scoring threat for the Lady Bulldogs. They will face Westlake, who has not lost since Dec. 11 (23 consecutive victories). They assured that there will be a new state champion this season, as Westlake defeated Stephenson in the second round. … Parkview advanced to its second straight Elite 8 after beating Milton in the second round. Lauren Coleman stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, five assists, three boards and two blocks. Next up is Campbell: Sophomore Chakecia Miller has a bright future at point guard, often leading the team in scoring. Brittany Hodges is another sophomore doing big things at power forward. … Marietta’s Telia McCall, a Virginia commit, is one of the more dominant low-post forces. Brittany Johnson has done a nice job of finding McCall for open buckets. Duluth also has star talent in Wake Forest commit Mykala Walker, Alex Shaw and Ravven Brown.

Josh Bagriansky can be reached at