Monday, March 10, 2008

Class 2A Championship Game Review

Wesleyan's girls hoops program has become the most dominant program in the state, and might be the most dominant team in any sport right now. It was never a contest for the Lady Wolves against Paideia, which they had already beaten by double-figures earlier in the year, as Wesleyan dismantled the Pythons 79-40. 

This was never a game. Wolves star center/point guard/do-everything player Anne Marie Armstrong didn't hardly have to break a sweat the way her teammates were playing. Armstrong had 40 points in the semifinals win, but left it to guards Erin Hall and Aysia McKenzie to shoot Paideia right out of the gym. Judean Hanks and Chantel Kennedy also helped in executing the Wolves' run-and-gun style, while Hall just hung out around the NBA 3-point line and hit 6-7 treys on the afternoon.

Paideia has a lot to be proud of, upsetting Randolph-Clay to get to the final in the first place. Thing is they ran into one of the best all-around teams in Georgia in the championship. Like I mentioned in my live blog of this game, Wesleyan loses one senior (reserve Carter Johnson) and drops down to Single-A next year. Not fair.

Howard Thompkins won a mythical national championship at Oak Hill last year (team finished No. 1 in USA Today poll), but something tells me he values this title just a little bit more. The Georgia-bound senior, who wasn't able to play after hurting his back halfway through the second quarter, relished the performances of his teammates down the stretch, becoming the most animated and vocal supporter of the team from the bench. When the game was over and the Wolves had beaten East Laurens 68-51 for the school's first boys title, Thompkins just stood with his arms outstretched, later embracing fellow post-player Erik Strong, who was crying tears of joy. 

How'd they do it? Tanner Smith. The Clemson signeee scored 27 points and dominated the game from the time Thompkins went out. His performance may be the best of the entire playoff season.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Class 3A State Championships Review

3A Girls

Finally, Kendrick is state champ. After five consecutive trips to the semis, the Lady Cherokees broke through with a 79-67 win over Carrollton.
The Lady Trojans were a game opponent and Velicia Bell gave KHS’ vaunted full court press major problems in the first half, helping Carrollton jump out to a surprising 15-8 lead.
But KHS senior guard Mukia Myrick would not let her team lose. She took over in the third quarter, and scored 25 points en route to the victory. The Lady Cherokees also had too much depth for CHS, as you could see fatigue slowly creeping up on Carrollton the entire second half. Meanwhile, Sterling Hicks’ team was firing on all cylinders.
After the final buzzer, it was hard not to feel good for Kendrick. They have suffered so much heartbreak in the past five years. In the final minute of the game, and the result no longer in doubt, tears of joy began to stream down the face of senior Ashlee Barley. Her senior class will leave a great legacy at Kendrick, mow they can add a state title to that legacy.

3A Boys

It was a David vs. Goliath matchup with super-talented Glenn Hills taking on Cinderella story Carver-Columbus. But in the end, the talent and superior execution proved the difference in a 64-57 victory for GH.
Spartan point guard Reggie Middleton (Winthrop commit) controlled the tempo as Glenn Hills picked their game up in the second half. Shawn Allen was also huge off the bench, dropping 18 points.
The surprising Tigers fought hard for the duration, and even lead early on. But a lack of offensive execution cost them dearly. They turned the ball over countless times in transition and fired up too many bad shots in their half court offense.
Even though the game was being played at GH’s pace, Carver was able to hang around thanks to their athleticism. And a layup from Carlos Ross pulled the Tigers within four with just over one minute remaining. But Glenn Hills hit big free throws, and Carver couldn’t convert the rest of the way. Jarvis Jones proved he can play with the big boys, scoring 23 points for Carver.
Overall, it was a decent matchup and game. But Glenn Hills deserved the win, congratulations to them on their first state championship in boys basketball.

Class 1A State Championships Review

From Score Atlanta reporter Jason Boral:

Sometimes it pays to be wrong. Up until the finals, I had professed the lack of close games throughout the 1A basketball tournament. However, it seemed once the calendar turned to March, the madness invariably ensued. In the boys final, the biggest challenge for Turner County was how they were going to stop Hancock Central’s Kammeon Holsey. They did a good job in the first half as they kept Holsey from establishing himself on the inside and only trailed 22-20 at the half. Turner then started the second half with a bang, running a set play to Demetreius Ewing in which he dunked the ball on an alley-oop from Marquis Jackson. When that happened, I really thought Turner had gotten over the hump and they would take the title. But give Hancock credit, as they were finally able to establish Holsey inside. Doing so helped build a four-point lead with 30 seconds to go, a lead they did their best to give away. After two Turner free throws cut the lead to two, Hancock through the ball away on a turnover leaving Turner’s Todd Lawson wide open for a 3-pointer to win the game, which hit the back iron and fell safely to the court. Hancock wins 49-45.

It was much of the same excitement in the girls final between Calvary Day and Terrell County. In pre-game, Terrell seemingly had a huge advantage as they outsized the girls from Calvary all along the interior, however, Calvary used their speed and agility to their advantage late to get open shots. Calvary’s Natalie Paris was the best example, as she hit three 3-pointers from NBA range. For Terrell, it was once again the Monshay Thomas Show as she scored 26 of her team’s 48 points. It was the defense that really did Terrell in, however. They switched from man to zone throughout the game but Calvary was still able to move the ball and find open spots, which usually were behind the arc. Calvary wins 57-48.

Jason Boral can be reached at

Class 4A State Championships Review

From Score Atlanta reporter Fletcher Proctor:

A first title for one program, old hat for another. Friday afternoon was magical for two teams at Gwinnett Arena as the Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers and the Columbia Eagles each defeated a Fayette County team to win a state basketball title. In the first matchup, Charenee Stephens showed the world why she is headed for South Carolina to star as a Gamecock. She grabbed rebound after rebound and put back shot after shot as the Lady Panthers claimed the program’s first title. The Panthers were at it from the start as the team held an early 12-7 lead and then watched it grow throughout the half. By the third quarter, the lead was 19, and though Fayette County, behind Tessah Holt, made a late charge, it was not to be as Stephens and the rest of the Lady Panthers gave head coach Kathy Richey-Walton the 2008 AAAA state championship. The final score was 62-46, but the game was never in doubt after the first quarter.

Then it was the boys’ turn as the Columbia Eagles made their third straight appearance in the title game. The Eagles captured the crown in 2006, only to lose to Tucker in 2007. In 2008, the team would have to overcome an early deficit, but ultimately claimed the crown. Fayette County’s Brandon Boykin and Cuincy Carruthers made up for leading scorer Noel Johnson’s absence in the first half, keeping the Tigers to within seven despite letting Eagle senior Kenny Mitchell score 12 first half points. In the second half, Carruthers caught fire as he finished with 25 points, but it was not to be as Travis Leslie and Darrius Morrow led the Eagles to victory. The score was close with three minutes to go and the Tigers had a chance to seize the lead with a minute to play, but the ball couldn’t go through the hoop and the Eagles danced to a 69-63 win. Fayette County, which started the day with a shot at two titles, left Gwinnett Arena without one.

Fletcher Proctor can be reached at

Class 5A State Championships Review

5A Girls:
After losing in the semifinals in three consecutive years, the dominant group of girls from Stephenson finally put it all together in '08, defeating Redan 58-43 in Friday's State Championship showdown. Leading the way for Stephenson was senior Jylisa Williams with 15 points, while Yasheeka Jones and Hiydaayh Williams each scored 10 of their own. In the end, the Stephenson size and athleticism made the difference, as Redan simply could not keep up in the physical matchup. Another significant factor in the Stephenson win: The girls had more blocks against Redan than I have ever seen in a girls basketball game. In fact, LSU signee Taylor Turnbow blocked nine shots all on her own. And despite the final 15-point deferential, Stephenson's fluid team basketball and overall athletic play made the girls 5A Finals an exciting event to witness.

5A Boys:
The boys final featured the two best teams in the State of Georgia, as Norcross defeated Wheeler 57-54 in what turned into an epic battle. For the most part, the game was played above the rim, with ferocious dunks numbering in the double digits. The victory also represented the third-straight championship for the Blue Devils. For Wheeler, Miami commitment, Dequan Jones, along with Ari Stewart kept the Wildcats in the game. Stewart led all scorers with 18 points, while Jones converted on a number of memorable dunks and played physical defense down low against Norcross star Al-Farouq Aminu, who with 17 points was held six below his season average. In the end, however, Aminu's physical all-around play made the difference, as the all-american also recorded six blocked shots. Forgetting about the outcome, the final quarter of play displayed two immensely talented teams playing basketball at a phenomenal level rarely seen in the high school game. And what a joy it was to watch that kind of play.

Scott Janovitz can be reached at

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Class 3A Boys Championship Game- Carver vs. Glenn Hills

POST GAME THOUGHTS (Final score Glenn Hills 64-57 Carver)

That was a wild one. Carver fought hard, but they just didn't have it tonight. You could see why they made it here because of their athleticism, but they weren't able to execute at crucial times. They just couldn't ever get it down to a one-score game. What a tourney run they had though, they have no reason to hang their heads. Look out for them next season as Jones returns alongside plenty more firepower.

Meanwhile, Glenn Hills are state champs. And they deserve it, they were the better team on the floor tonight. They've flown uner the radar, but they are as talented as anyone out there. And they showed it tonight with fantastic performances from Reggie Middleton and and Chris Reynolds.

I hope you enjoyed our coverage over the past two days, and the whole tournament here on GPB. It's been a great basketball season, and I enjoyed being a part of it with you today. See you all next year!


IT's over. Glenn Hills are champions. Congratulations Spartans!

Ross had an open look from the corner to pull Carver within 2 but missed it. Middleton going to the line with 8 seconds to play and Glenn Hills holding a 62-57 lead

It's not over yet, GH just lost the ball out of bounds.

WHAT A PUT BACK DUNK by Ross for Carver off a missed three pointer. It may be too little too late though. Just 15 seconds to play and GH with the lead

REynolds to the line for GH, Hawkins has fouled out. 39 seconds left. He makes one of 2

Hawkins throws it away, that might do it.

Allen makes both FTs

That last offensive possesion was an opportunity missed for Carver. They really need Allen to help them out here and miss one or both of these FT's.

Charge on Carver, that looked like a flop to me. Allen is going to the line with 0:49 seconds left as Jones was forced to commit his fifth foul.

TURNOVER GLENN HILLS. Curry steps out of bounds in the backcourt. 1:02 to play now

Ross gets the 2, its a 4 point game

Carver have not shot the 3 well all game, but they will probably try to set up an outside shot here to make this a one-score game.

Carver can't convert on the next possesion. But Jones gets the ball back after a scrum under the basket. He hit the deck hard diving for the loose ball and got the timeout. 1:25 to play and the Spartans lead 59-53

Looks like that play worked, Jones with the lay up off the inbounds pass and it's back to five. But once again, Carver's pressure D results in a foul. Reggie Middleton hits 1, and it's a 6 point lead for GH with 2 minutes to play

Just a quick note, both teams are in the double bonus

Carver timeout with the ball and 2:29 to play and a 57-51 lead for GH. This is a crucial posession for the Tigers.

1 of 2 from Hawkins and its a 56-61 game. But Fortson fouls out on a bad foul in the backcourt. Patrick Willis will play the rest of the way because of his disqualifcation. 2:46 to go

Martin takes a bad shot, but Hawkins gets the board and gets fouled by McCloud. That's 5 on McCloud and he's finsihed. Demetrius Curry, who started the game but hasn't had much of an impact, will replace him.

GH throw it away with 3:03 to play, Carver have a chance to finally get closer than 6 here.

Great take by Hawkins and its back down to 6 with 3:10 to go.

Fortson gets the call this time as he draws foul #4 on McCloud. He converts on 1 of 2 and it's 56-48

Jarmon Fortson needs to stay under control. He provides great energy but is losing his cool with regards to the referees. If doesn't watch out he will get a T.

Carver just can't seem to get closer than six. They're down 55-47 with White going to the line for Glenn Hills. Timeout for Carver with 3:49 to play.

Stephenson just fouled out on a charge. That could be big. It was a good call. 4:53 to play

Jones is already making his presence known, as hie scores with a putback to make it 53-47 with just over 5 minutes left

Johnson just committed his fifth foul for Carver, and here comes Jones to take his place.

It will be interesting to see when Coach Beulah comes back with Jones, who is currently sitting on the bench with 4 fouls.

Carlos Ross makes good on the FT's this time, and it's a 6 point game with 6:20 to go

Shawn Allen wiht another big bucket to stretch the lead to 8. He has been huge tonight for the Spartans.

Reynolds jut missed an easy one for GH, but he got the rebound and put it back in. Meanwhile, Carver are shooting 1-and-1 after Emilio Johnson draws the 4th foul against Stephenson. But he fails to convert the 1-and-1.

Jones with an offensive board and score after a steal and its down to 4 right away.

Fouth quarter is just started with GH inbounding at half court.


A tip-in with 5 seconds to play for Carver, and it's just a 47-41 game heading to the final quarter. Stay tuned...

Despite that three from Reynolds, Glenn Hills are losing the momentum. They just turned it over, and Wallace calls a full timeout with 1:01 to play and GH leading 47-39.

GH responds with a three of they own from Reynolds. But Carver come back down the floor and Carolos Ross gets to the line. He splits a pair.

Hawkins for three and its down to 44-38.

Carver have been better offensively, but they need to make the extra pass. They just took an off balance shot rather than finding a wide open Martin in the corner. GH leads 44-35

Jones is having some trouble for Carver. It looks like he's being bothered by an injury and GH are bringing the double-team whenever he touches the ball in the paint.

Stephenson just came through with a fantastic three-point-play. GH now lead by 10 with 3:20 to go

Carver may be in the bonus before we reach the 3rd quarter. As Glenn Hills already have 5 team fouls.

I'm a little surprised to see Martin exit the game here with 4:45 to go in the quarter. He has been a big reason for Carver's offensive resurgence although it hasn't shown on the stat sheet. Immediately after he exits Carver turns the ball over and loses Emilio Johnson for a while as he commits his fourth foul on the ensuing breakaway. He probably should have just let GH's Jihad McCloud get the layup rather than going for the big time block. Media timeout from Macon, Glenn Hills with the 36-30 lead

Charles Martin has been handling the bal more for Carver in this half. He's done a nice job so far. Nice shot drive by Emilio Johnson to make the score 35-30 in favor of Genn Hills

Hawkins with the J and Carver have the momentum, they trail 33-28

We've got three team fouls on GH just 40 seconds into the quarter. That could loom large down the line.

BIG PLAY from Marcel Hawkins as he draws the third foul for Stephenson just 10 seconds in. Jones with the bucket soon after and Carver are down 7 in the opening minute

Third quarter is underway, Carver ball.

Under 1 minute before we start the second half. Jarvis Jones has 3 fouls for Carver, keep an eye on that. I'd expect the Spartans to go right at him in this third quarter and try to draw number 4.

HALFTIME- Glenn Hills 33-24 Carver.

You could see why no one expected Carver to get this far. I don't even want to think about how many turnovers (many of them unforced) they had in the second quarter. Jarmon Fortson lost control of the tempo as Middleton began to dictate the pace of the game. This clearly frustrated the Tigers, and they fell apart on offense. Rather than slowing things down, they tried to make up the growing deficit all at once by launching ill-advised jump shots. A lot of their turnovers came in transition, with the quick and long combo of Stephenson and Reynolds getting into passing lanes.

For Glenn Hills, they have a 9 point lead without playing their best game. They started to calm down towards the end of the half, with Middleton taking control and Stephenson/Reynolds becoming more involved. They also benifited from some great bench play with White and Shawn Allen providing an excelent spark. If they play the way they did in the final few minutes of the quarter, they should come out on top.

I'm going to get a quick breather. But I'll be back with all the second half action.


It's halftime and Glenn Hills hold a 33-24 lead.

Another bad shot for Carver as Marcel Hawkins fires up a contested trey with 30 seconds to go. Carver should have held for the last shot, instead Andre White is heading to the line for GH

Fortson with the offensive rebound on a FT miss, he lays it in and it's 28-24. But Reggie Middleton is headed back to the line after being fouled in the backcourt with 1:17 to play

Carver are a mess offensively right now. They have only taken a handful of quality shots this quarter.

Nice reverse from Allen, he has six off the bench and GH lead 26-21 with 2 minutes to go. Soon after, Marcel Hawkins throws up a shot thats as good as a turnover. Warren Beulah needs to get his team under control, they can't afford to play this poorly against a team like Glenn Hills.

Turnovers on four consecutive possesions. This has been the most poorly executed season I've seen all year.

This game is turning into a track meet. And it's been ugly for both teams with countless turnovers.

Timeout with 4:16 to go in the quarter. Glenn Hills have had the edge recently, but they need to start converting on their opportunities offensively. Reynolds and Middleton have played well in this quarter. Carver need PG Jarmon Fortson to play better, he has been erratic in this quarter and it has cost them dearly.

It seems like it's been 23-19 for an eternity. Both teams are missing a ton of shots.

Carver are no longer controlling the tempo. Which could be very dangerous against a talented team like Glenn Hills.

Glenn Hills have really brought the defense in this quarter. Carver have three turnovers by my count with just two minutes played. Meanwhile, Middleton is starting to dominate.

Reynolds is starting ot assert himself. What a pass to Andrea White under the basket who drew the foul. He sinks both from the line to give the Spartans the 19-17 lead

We've got a Chris Reynolds sighting. He's at the line after grabbing an offensive board. He splits a pair at the line to tie the game at 15.

Second quarter is underway, GH ball


Carver go in front on a nice spot up three from Martin with 10 seconds to go. After one quarter of play, Carver leads 15-14.

Allen with another bucket, he has been a major spark off the bench for the Spartans

Stephenson has 2 fouls after he was just called for a block. That's smoething to keep an eye on.

Middleton is startng to find his groove. He just found Shawn Allen for an open layup to make it a 1 point game

Middleton comes out of the TO and hits a three. 8-5

TV timeout with 4:25 to go. Carver lead 8-2. Coach Wallace does not look happy with the effort from his Glenn Hills team. They have not executed their gameplan early.

Yet another turnover for the Spartans as Middleton loses the ball out of bounds. If Carver can hit a few shots here they could get out to a nice lead.

Glenn Hills with another turnover on a backcourt violation and Wallace calls for time. GH seem to be nervous which is common in a state title game. But Carver have come out poised and executing their game.

Glenn Hills are a little out of control early. Stephenson jsut threw an ill-advised pass out of bounds. 7-2 Carver leads

You can see why Carver gave Dunwoody prolems. They can get up and down the floor in no time.

Middleton gets GH on the board with 6:30 to go in the quarter.

Jones muscles his way down low and notches a three point play. 5-0 to Carver.

Nice J from Martin to open up the scoring

Carver wins the tip and we're underway in the final game of the day

Starting lineup for Carver: Jones, Johnson, Fortson, Martin, Hawkins
For Glenn Hills: Middleton, Stephenson, Reynolds, Curry, McCloud


Previewing this one, I've got to say that Glenn Hills are big favorites. They have three guys that have signed D-1 scholarships in Reggie Middleton, Jerel Stephenson, and Chris Reynolds. I'll be honest, I was expecting this to be a star-studded matchup between Dunwoody and GH. But Carver shocked everyone by easily beating the 'Cats in the semis. Carver rely a lot on Jarvis Jones, a big time football prospect. Just from looking at both teams, it's safe to guess he's going to be the strongest guy on the floor.

I'm expecting a high scoring game, as both of these squads feature a ton of athleticism. But in the end, I predict Glenn Hills to come out on top. We're just 3 minutes away from tip off, stay tuned for my updates from Macon.

We're just about 10 minutes away from the boys game between a very talented Glenn Hills squad and one a great Cinderella Story in Carver. I'll be here for the duration with updates. Until then, keep up to date with my pregame thoughts. And as always, if you have any questions or comments shoot me an email at

Class 3A Girls Championship Game. Kendrick vs. Carrollton


I hate to see one of these teams lose, they both showed incredible heart for the full 32 minutes. For Carrollton, Velicia Bell was absolutely fantastic. She's one of the best leaders I've seen in any classification or gender this season. She lead her team to take the runner-up trophy, and was already consoling her teammates. That's a true leader right there.

Meanwhile, the Lady Cherokees are finally state champions. It's been a long time coming for this senior class. They've come so close in season's past, it's hard not to feel good for them after their victory. Mukia Myrick just wouldn't let her squad lose tonight. She's my player of the game with Bell a close second.

Overall, I felt it was a decent game. Both teams made too many mistakes but KHS didn't make any when it mattered most. The senior leadership of Janae McKinney, Ashlee Barley, Myrick, Keondra Barnes, and Lacee Hollis was definetely on display as they took over the game in the second half. That group would leaves left quite a legacy at Kendrick, now they can add a state title to that legacy as well.


GAME OVER. Final score Kendrick 79-67 Carrollton. Congratulations to Kendrick, the Class AAA Girls Champs.

Bell consoles her teammate Janyce Ealey at mid-court as Kendrick empty their bench. Just 4 seconds to play now with High at the line.

Barley is tearing up at mid-court, she can feel a state title. Carrollton are still fouling, Myrick to the line now with the Lady Cherokees holding a 76-67 lead.

Barley with two more clutch FT's, I hear a fat lady singing somewhere.

Bell air balls a three pointer, that should do it.

Barley hits both FT's

Timeout CHS as they will try to ice Barley, :49 to play

Wiley gets to the line for two shots with a nice drive. Both FT's are good at it's down to 7 with Barley headed the line again for KHS.

Barley misses both. CHS aren't done yet

Bell is back into the game with her best Willis Reed imitation. You've gotta love the heart this girl has. She drives the lane for the layup after to Myrick FT's. Now Barley heads to the line with 1:02 to go, KHS lead by 9.

Carrollton trail by 9 with 1:13 to play and Myrick on the line. This could be a very long 1:13.

Bell is in a lot of pain on the bench, they're stretching out her leg so it could just be a cramp.

The trainers had to carry Bell to the bench, looks like she's done for the night. I'll keep you guys posted if I hear anything about her injury.

I didn't see what happened, but Velicia Bell is in a lot of pain on the floor. Looks like it is an ankle injury but I don't know for sure.

Myrick with another nice drive and layup, Kendrick now lead by 68-56 with 1:46 to play. Looks like the Lady Cherokees are finally headed for a state title win.

Kendrick aren't going to shoot. And Bell has to foul Myrick with 2:18 to play. She makes both and KHS are up 10.

Bell is trying to will her team back. She just hit a three to close within 64-56. Under 3 minutes to go

Kendrick are trying to slow things down here, but McKinney just turned it over with a travel. The Kendrick fans dont like it, but it appeared to be the correct call.

Bell splits a pair of FT's and Carrollton now trail 64-53 with 3:43 remaining

Bell isn't controlling the ball like she was earlier in the game, another sign that she is fatigued.

It's going to take a monumental effort for the Lady Trojans tto get back in this thing. Wiley hopes to start a comeback with a basketb to make it 64-52.

Carrollton bringing the half court trap now on defense. It didn't stop Merrick from driving to the bucket and scoring, 64-50 Kendrick lead. Timeout Carrolton with under 5 minutes to go.

CHS within 9 after a nice post up from Prothro. 5:40 to play

KHS are on the board first with a layup from Barnes, but Bell storms back down the floor and finds the open Trojan for the layup. 58-47 is the score

And the fouth quarter is underway...

Bell looks a little gassed for CHS. She sat for the last minute of the third quarter and is already back on the floor. If fatigue is a factor for her, that is BIG trouble for the Lady Trojans.


Three quarters played now, and it's KHS holding a 56-45 lead. Sterling Hicks' team slowly took control of the game in that quarter. Carrollton need to slow the game down if they want to get back into it, and Bell will probably have to take over.

ANOTHER "and 1" for Myrick as she drives to the hoop and makes the basket before missing the free throws. It's 56-43 now, but Carrollton are at the line now as KHS have 8 team fouls.

The Lady Cherokee fans are really starting to make some noise now. Carrollton are slowly losing control of this game.

McKinney gets the lays it in, then steals the inbounds pass and makes another layup. Just like that, Kendrick lead 54-42 with 40 seconds to play in the quarter.

Myrick with the steal on the ensuing play, her steal sets up two FT's for Simone High and KHS lead by 8.

Myrick with another fantastic play as she drives to the hoop, gets fouled, and hits the reverse layup. She has been unreal tonight. 48-42 KHS lead

Carrollton hit yet another three from the corner as Wiley pulls them with three.

2:20 to go in the quarter and KHS have a 45-39 lead. The next 2 minutes will be crucial, as KHS can stretch the lead to double-digits, or we could see a cose game heading into the fourth.

Bell with a three pointer and its 43-39 with 320 to go.

Tierra Prothro is hobbling for CHS. But it looks like she's going to play through it. These Lady Trojans have shown a lot of guts.

A couple of FT's for Bell make it 42-36. Then Stamps throws it away on the next play, the Lady Trojans just won't go away.

Velicia Bell has been the best player on the court, but Kendrick's bigs are starting to take control in the paint. Carrollton need to be careful or they will be looking at an uphill battle in the final quarter.

Janae McKinney with the bucket and the foul. Kendrick are really starting to dominate inside.

Looks like the timeout worked for the time being. Wiley just scored on a put-back to make it 40-34.

BIG TROUBLE for Carrollton. Kendrick just nailed a three and they lead 40-32. Shon Thomaston wants to talk it over as the Lady Trojans call time out.

Bell draws the 2nd team foul on Kendrick, fouls could be a problem again for the Lady Cherokees. That was third foul on Bonita Harris.

Much like the first half, the second half opens up very sloppy. Velicia Bell has already had an impact as she just stole the ball on her own end and drew the foul on the other. Both FT's are pure and it's 33-32 KHS leading early on in the 3rd.

Third quarter is underway from the Macon Centreplex with Carrollton inbounding at mid-court.

HALFTIME- Kendrick 33-30 Carrollton.

Carrollton really missed some opportunities from the charity stripe late in the quarter. Bell got KHS into trouble with team fouls with some fantastic moves to beat the full court press, and the Lady Cherokees looked a little shocked that she was beating their D so easily. If Carrolton made their free throws they are leading right now. Neither team looked very poised, a lot of wide open shots missed and turnovers.

Overall, it was a wide open half with both teams running up and down the floor. Even I'm a little out of breath right now, usually that only happens after I've ran at least 50 yards.

Props to the soundtrack people here at the Centreplex for coming through with "Ms. Jackson" by Outkast. If you've been keeping up with our coverage all day, I'm sure you've read Alex's comments on some of the music that's been played. I was starting to think I was in 7th grade for a moment there.

I'll be back with more updates in the second half.


It's halftime with Kendrick holding a 33-30 lead after closing the half on a 6-0 run.

CHS are really struggling from the line, Boykin just missed two more.

Great pump fake by Myrick to get her defender up in the air, then she drives to the cup for the easy basket. But once again, KHS foul on the press sending Boykin to the line again.

McKinney gives Kendrick the 31-30 lead. But once again the press is coming back to haunt the Lady Cherokees as they foul Boykin in the backcourt and CHS are in the double-bonus.

Kymberli STamps misss a layup for Kendrick. They have missed wayyy too many easy shots early. Carrolton leading 30-29 with 1 minute to go.

If you aren't keeping count back home, Carrollton are now in the bonus. IT seems to be be compromising the Lady Cherokees' press, they just fouled Wiley in the backcourt but she missed the 1-and-1.

Ealey just got fouled HARD (but clean), she showed some real guts by sinking both FT's to give Carrollton the 30-27 lead.

Barnes just had a wide open lay up for Kendrick, but travelled before the shot.

Wiley is back in, and immediately nails a 3 to make to bring the Lady Trojans within 27-26

So much for that press not working. It's forced a few turnovers in this quarter and just forced Bell to waste a timeout. Kendrick have the lead 27-23 after a nice jumper from Myrick.

There's a vicious collison between to CHS players and we've got a Lady Trojan in pain. It's Brittany Wiley, but she appears to be okay as she walks to the bench.

So much for KHS having momentum, Janyce Ealey with a nice lay-in and the foul for CHS. She makes the FT and its tied at 23.

Three pointer form the corner for Myrick and Kendrick lead by three. Carrolton throw it away thanks to the full court press soon after. Looks like the Lady Cherokees are getting the momentum back.

Just over a minute played in the quarter and we're tied at 20.

McKinney scraps for an offensive board and makes it 20-18. But once again Bell draws another foul on Kendrick as they bring the press. That's 6 team fouls already on Kendrick.

Second quarter is underway and it's Kendrick ball.

In between quarters here, and in my opinion Kendrick are lucky to be down just 4. Bell has been plowing through their press and finding the open girl for three's and layups. If I'm KHS coach Sterling Hicks I might consider scrapping the full court press.


Kendrick close out the quarter with a lay up from Barley. Carrollton lead 20-16 after one.

Bonita Garris came off the bench and couldn't stop Bell, she's out of the game with two fouls.

Under a minute to go in the first now. No change in the score.

Once again Carrollton break the press and hit a three. Then Bell gets a steal but turns it over on the break. CHS are dominating the pace of this game and lead 20-12.

Velicia Bell breaks the press and finds Prothro for the easy bucket. 17-12 Carrollton leads.

Merrick with a great hustle play as she dives for a loose ball in her own end and gets the timeout. Bell is back in for Carrollton.

Velicia Bell has not had much trouble breaking this Kendrick press. But she just came out of the game here to get a rest. It will be interesting to see how Carrolton handle the pressure D without her.

This game is fast and furious, a lot of turnovers from both sides. It's 12-8 after a trey from Kendrick with 3:05 to go.

BEAUTIFUL spin move on the breakaway from Velicia Bell for the layup. She has easily been the best player on the floor thus far. 9-5, CHS.

Nice pull-up J from Janae McKinney and the Lady Cherokees are on the board.

Three team fouls on Kendrick already with 6 minutes to go. That could be a prolem for them later in the half. Score is still 4-0.

Kendrick look a little nervous here early. They've missed a couple of easy shots. Timeout with 6:23 to go in the first and a 4-0 lead for the Lady Trojans.

It's a little sloppy here early. With four turnovers in under a minute of play. CHS has the 2-0 lead on a layup from Tierra Prothro.

Carrolton wins the etip and we're underway..

Both student sections are getting it done. This building has been electric all day.

Starting lineups have been announced. It's Bell, Riley, Ealey, Boykin and Prothro for Carrolton.
For Kendrick: Stamps, Matthews, Myrick, Barley, and Barnes


More great basketball to come here this evening with the girls and boys Class AAA Finals. I'm Josh Bagriansky, your man on the scene for the remainder of the evening. We open it up with Kendrick and Carrollton in what figures to be an interesting matchup. The Lady Cherokees are looking to get the "monkey off of their back" as they have been deep in the state tourney in year's past, but never winning the title. Don't count out the Lady Trojans, as they were defeated by East Hall (last year's state champs) in the quarters last season. Tip off is just over 10 minutes away now, I'll do my best to keep you all up to date.

In an effort to suck every ounce of energy possible out of the building, the Centreplex is continuing with their assortment of awful 90's music. Wesleyan took their championship photos with Britney Spears blaring in the background, which was followed by everyone's favorite Backstreet Boys song, "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely." I learned one thing from all of this, Wesleyan's Tanner Smith knows most of the words to "Oops I Did it Again" as he sang it with great enthusiasm as he celebrated the Wolves' state title win. I guess we can let it slide after his unreal performance.

One more thing, if you have any questions about what's going on here feel free to drop me a line at I'll answer some of the questions right here, or just email you back.

The Trojans fans have been the most vocal thus far. I've already heard a couple of "Lets go Trojans" chants. Seems they may be the louder of the two cheering sections, as Kendrick's fans have been less noisy.

Two minutes to tip now, are you ready for some basketball?

Class 2A Boys Championship Game - Wesleyan vs. East Laurens

Final impressions
Smith showed why he's an ACC player. He absolutely took the Wolves on his shoulders and carried them to the win. East Laurens just fouled too much in the second half. They got impatient on offense, committed some costly offensive fouls, and went to the outside shot only when it was too late. It's a shame that the Falcons second loss on the year had to come in the championship game, but that's the way it goes.

The Wolves players can always remember that they walked off the floor to Britney Spears's "Oops I Did it Again" after the first boys state title in school history.

Fourth quarter
Exclamation point: Tanner Smith's breakaway dunk after a steal with 30 seconds to make it a 61-43 final. It's a mob scene. Thompkins stands with his arms in the air, Erik Strong falls to the floor sobbing... Wesleyan has a lot to cheer about.

Down 19 with 2:45 left, East Laurens needs to start attempting some 3s. They can't hit any. Guard Antwan Bailey is trying frantically to hit a trey, but to no avail. With a minute and a half and a 17-point lead, the Wesleyan fans are anticipating a sweep of 2A and the first-ever title for the boys.

Smith posts up again, and lays it up to make it 53-39. A charge on the other end of the court charged to EL, and the Falcons fans are barking at the officiating again. Smith fouled shortly after, and hits one of two free throws to make it 54-39 with 4:58 left. East Laurens has ten team fouls, and seems to be losing a little bit of composure. 

Thompkins has been receiving intermittent treatment from some of the team's trainers, who are stretching out his legs and having him walk around next to the Wesleyan bench.

A charge from East Laurens' Lewis on the other end, and the Falcons have seven team fouls. Dillon McLaughlin hits both free throws after a Falcons reach, and Wesleyan leads by 12 with 5:55 left in the game. EL has not been able to follow up Williams's miracle shot. 

Zac Johnston, sophomore shooting guard for the Wolves, gets a layup for the first points of the quarter for either team. Wolves by 10. After an East Laurens miss, he gets fouled to put the Wolves one foul away from being in the bonus. 

Third quarter
East Laurens trying to fight back, but still trails by 11 with 20 seconds left in the third. After a Wesleyan turnover, Williams hits a halfcourt shot from right in front of the press table with no time on the clock. With the view I had, it looked good as soon as it left his hand. Wesleyan by only eight points, 45-37, after the buzzer beater, and now the Falcons fans are on their feet. This could be an interesting fourth quarter.

Tanner Smith is a man. He keeps the ball in his hands, looks like he's going to set up the offense, then dribbles through the EL defense for a contested lay-in. Down the court, he throws up his arms to incite the Wesleyan crowd. Needless to say, it worked. My ears hurt. Next Wolves possession, Smith pulls up for a 10-footer. East Laurens coach Jimmy Williams decides he's seen enough for the time being, and calls a full timeout. Thompkins limps to the Wesleyan huddle. 43-32 Wolves.

Boy, has the pace picked up. Up and down the court. East Laurens is attacking the basket a lot more with Thompkins out, but may be getting a little overzealous. Williams picks up a charge at the 4:07 mark.

Expect to see a lot of Tanner Smith in the second half. Aside from handling the ball, he should be in the post a lot more. He just posted up an EL guard and got a layup.

East Laurens' Bailey gets the hoop and foul on a stick back, but airballs the free throw. Cue the Wesleyan cheering section. 35-25 Wesleyan with six minutes in the quarter.

Thompkins looks like he wants to play, and is still on the Wesleyan bench at the start of the half. But the way he's walking, I wouldn't expect to see him.

Second quarter
Wesleyan is up 33-21 at the half, but star big man Thompkins is the last to get to the locker room and is requiring a lot of help to get there. Don't want to guess the nature or severity of the injury, but it doesn't look like he's going to play anymore today.

Thompkins is up, but in obvious pain. He's walking slowly back to the bench and, clearly, is not going to attempt these free throws. We'll keep you updated.

Thompkins gets undercut (accidentally, of course) by an East Laurens defender after trying to bring down an offensive rebound. He hit the ground flat on his back and has been down for a good three or four minutes. 

Thompkins banks in an eight-footer over two defenders. The Falcons are missing layups and wide-open 3s, something they weren't doing in the first quarter. The Wesleyan lead has ballooned to 12 at 31-19.

Tanner Smith is taking over the game. He just hit a 3 and took it coast-to-coast for a layup and foul. Hits the free throw to make it 29-19 with 2 minutes to go in the half.

Chris Sephus of East Laurens with a nice, hang-in-the-air drive to get it past Thompkins. 18-13 Wolves.

Jimmy Williams airballs a shot, and the Wesleyan crowd lets him hear it. Tanner Smith gets his first two points of the game on a tough post move. He's got a good inside-outside game, and can handle the ball as well. Right as I'm typing this, he leads the break and dishes to guard Michael Cornelius for the transition bucket. 17-11 Wesleyan with 5:40 left.

Both crowds need a break after the first quarter; they've been animated, to say the least. If you're watching on TV or following the GPB stream online, you know what I'm talking about. We're ready for more basketball. Wesleyan to inbound.

First quarter
The East Laurens fans are REALLY upset with some of the calls that have gone against the Falcons lately... tied 11-11 at the end of the opening period.

Thompkins blocks his first shot of the game on Terrance Strong's attempt, and the Wolves score on the next possession to make it 8-6 EL. 

Out of the timeout, Williams sends the Falcons fans into a frenzy with a layup. 

Ken Taylor, 6-5 senior shooting guard, puts the Falcons up 4-1 with a jumper. Williams with a steal off a Thompkins pass on the next possession, passes to Taylor for an uncontested layup in transition. 6-1 EL going into the game's first TV timeout.

East Laurens wins the tip, and Jimmy Williams, Jr., the coach's son, gets a layup off his own miss. 2-0 Falcons. 

More random pre-game musings...
So the Centreplex staff (or GHSA, or whoever) has really pulled out all the stops for the warmup music. Listening to LFO's "Summer Girls" right now... Next up it's something that sounds like Backstreet Boys, but after a quick Google search I find out it's 5ive, a British boy band from the late 90s. Notice a pattern here?

Ok, how about some real basketball analysis? On first sight, and with a cursory glance at the roster, East Laurens is clearly going to be at a disadvantage in the post. Howard Thompkins of Wesleyan, at 6-9, is two inches taller than any of East Laurens' kids. The Wolves have five players 6-5 or taller, the Falcons from Dublin, Georgia have two.

Advantages (purely guesses at this point): 
Quickness: East Laurens
Shooting: Wesleyan
Experience: Wesleyan
Size: Wesleyan

Thompkins is headed to Georgia next year, and 6-5 Tanner Smith to Clemson for the Wolves, so edge also goes to the Norcross school in terms of high-profile talent. East Laurens also has a pretty decent collection of fans here; wonder if they picked up any supporters from crosstown rival Dublin High, which lost to Wesleyan in the semifinals? 

2A Girls Championship Game - Paideia vs. Wesleyan

Final impressions
Paideia was a bit of a surprise to make it this far, but can take a lot away from this playoff season in which they defeated powerhouse Randolph-Clay to get to the finals. Wesleyan, in my eyes, cements a dynasty in girls basketball, and get this: they only lose ONE SENIOR, Carter Johnson (who, after her spill in the second quarter, was fine, by the way). Preseason No. 1, anybody?

Fourth quarter
79-40 is your final score. The Wolves win their fourth title in five years.

Aneesah Daniels hits two free throws for Paideia with 30 seconds left. She has been the star for the Pythons.

Credit to the Paideia fanbase, which was loudest at the end of the game. The Wolves fans were also really enthusiastic about seeing their reserves get into the game for the final minute and a half or so.

Maybe the prettiest play of the game: Judean Hanks of the Wolves lobs the ball for a stationary Hall, who jumps, catches the ball, and lofts up a nice eight-footer all before coming back down  

Paideia's star center Kaci Palmore, who we haven't heard much from in this game, gets a layup. With 2:43, she gets another one. Hopefully the senior can get a few more points before her career is over. Score is 71-34. 

Very quietly, Anne Marie Armstrong is having herself a heck of a championship game. But Erin Hall is showing me that she can carry a team with her long-range shooting. She just drained another deep, deep trey at the 4:30 mark. Next Wolves possession she hits another one. Unbelievable.

Third quarter
A pretty sizable crowd is already settled in to watch the Wesleyan boys take on East Laurens right after this one. On a completely unrelated note, what looks to be one of the girls team's managers is on the bench wearing an all-white suit. Looking good, man. Looking good.

Armstrong with another swat. The Wolves are slowing things down a little bit on offense, but the defense is as intense as ever. Abraham scores another two down low for Paideia, however, and Walker follows with a layup on the next possession for the Pythons. The deficit is still at 34

Alex Abraham, 5-10 sophomore for Paideia, gets the hoop and the foul. She hits the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play. The Pythons turn on the pressure after the made free throw, but Wesleyan breaks the press and Baughn draws a foul. 59-24 with the free throws.

Timeout Wesleyan at the 3:39 mark. Jan Azar didn't like the offense, apparently, which was stagnating a little bit. Hard to complain with a 34-point lead, however.

Speaking of Erin Hall, she just hit a 3 from beyond the NBA arc. Impressive. It's 52-19 in the first few minutes of the third. A minute later, it's Hall again from deep.

Halftime impressions
Armstrong is the best player on the court, but it's Wesleyan's guard play and outside shooting that's dominated the game so far.

There is one girl (or several girls, it's hard to tell) in the Wesleyan crowd that scream their heads off during every Paideia free throw. The rest of the student section just covers their ears.

Asked a Wesleyan parent if Erin Hall is related to Chad Hall, former Wolves basketball and football standout who just finished his collegiate football career at Air Force. The two are cousins.

Second quarter
Paideia's Alana Pulliam hits one of two free throws to make it 43-17. At the VERY LAST, and I mean VERY LAST second of the half, Wesleyan's McKenzie hits a layup to make it 47-17. Paideia will absolutely have to find more offense than Aneesah Daniels if they want to put up more points in the second half. But you'll have to excuse me for a second; I can't hear myself think because of the ovation the Wesleyan boys just got as they ran on for a shootaround.

Wesleyan's Carter Johnson is down momentarily, shaken up after a run-in with Paideia's Daniels. With a little help, she makes it to the bench. It's not a leg injury; just looks like she took a shot.

Hall with another trey, score is now 41-13 with a minute and a half remaining in the second.

Paideia's Daniels gets a transition layup, but Wesleyan strikes right back with an easy bucket from Chantel Kennedy. They can really punish you for not getting back on defense. The score stands at 31-9 with 3:36 left in the half.

Armstrong with a HUGE block on a Paideia big on one end of the flooer, beginning a fast break that she ends off a rebound and put-back.

I don't have the exact numbers in front of me, but I believe Armstrong is 0-2 from the floor. Wesleyan just has more weapons at their disposal than Paideia. As I type this, sophomore Judean Hanks hits a three to make it 26-7. After a steal on the inbounds, Armstrong gets the ball down low and gets fouled. She makes one free throw to push it to 27-7. 

This Wesleyan team is deadly from the outside. Sophomore Erin Hall is the latest Lady Wolf to show off a very effective jumper, making it 23-6 with a 15-footer.

Wesleyan gets the ball at the start of the second, and Grace Leah Baughn ends up getting free for an easy layup. Whether Armstrong is trying to post up or hanging around the perimeter, she draws attention.

First quarter
Paideia has made it very clear what their defensive strategy is: double team Armstrong. They're denying her the ball, alright, but are getting killed from the outside. Paideia center Aneesah Daniels takes a hard fall, but steps to the free throw line. She misses both, but after a scramble for the rebound, ends up taking the last shot of the quarter, an airball three. Paideia will try to regroup after a rough first period. 17-6 Wesleyan.

Another sweet jumper from McKenzie makes it 15-2, and a layup from Hayley Hughes makes it 17-2. 

FINALLY! Paideia gets on the board with a layup, but not after Wesleyan scored the game's first 13 points. 

Paideia better be careful; they're down 11-0 to start the game and just turned the ball over. Timeout Pythons.

McKenzie with another nice 3-pointer. She's got a great looking shot. Armstrong can run, pass and rebound. She's very versatile. 

Wesleyan's Aysia McKenzie hits a jumper for the first points of the game. 3-0 Wolves.

Anne Marie Armstrong easily won the tip. Both teams look a little too eager at the start of the game, as they are missing a lot of shots and playing a little sloppy. I think they'll settle down once they ease into things.

2A Girls Championship Game - Wesleyan vs. Paideia

Random pre-game impressions
Do high school kids get nervous at all? Wesleyan's girls are laughing and joking like it's a pickup game, and Paideia's team seems relaxed as well. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that these teams are both known quantities to each other. The 6-AA region opponents met once in the regular season, with Wesleyan winning 58-45.

I haven't seen her play yet, but Wesleyan's Anne Marie Armstrong looks like a player. She'll be the tallest girl on the court at 6-foot-3, and her long arms will give her an even more decided advantage. 

Do Cher and basketball mix? I don't remember ever listening to "Life After Love" before a big game, but maybe it works for some people. It's blasting over the Centreplex speakers right now...

As editor of Score Prep DeKalb, perhaps I should have had Paideia's team more on my radar screen. They seemed to go unnoticed for a lot of the season, despite all their losses being to top-notch basketball teams. The Lady Pythons lost by three in the first game of the season to Mundy's Mill, one of the better 5A teams.

We're about three minutes away from tip-off, and I'll pick up there next...

Boy's 1A Final - Hancock vs. Turner

Closing Thoughts

What an exciting set up games. In the first you had the girls of Calvary hold off the star from Terrell County, Monshay Thomas, to win the title. Then in game two Hancock Central struggled to get their star in the game, but in the end he stepped up like all-stars do. He played strong on the glass and in the paint. It was a great start to the day and we're just getting started.

4th Quarter

Apparently Hancock wanted as much excitement in this one as possible. With six seconds left the in bounds man threw the ball up in the air only 28 feet from the basket. Lawson got an open shot for the three, but it bounced off the back of the rim. Time expired after two Fluellen free throws. Hancock Central wins the title 49-40

Down two it's going to be tough for Turner to pull this one out. If Hancock can make their free throws the game is in the books.

Burgess drove the ball, then passed it to Spikes in the corner. Spikes fakes the three then tried for the easy two, but missed it. Hancock grabbed the rebound and drained one free throw on the other end. Hancock 47-45 :06

Down three with 21 seconds to go Turner has the ball. A great finish to close out 1A championship round. Jackson has been the best shooter for Turner. If he can get open he is the most viable option here. Look for them to set a screen for him at the otp of the key.

Jontarius Stanton at the line for 1 & 1, he makes the first. And the second.

Jeremy Lawrence misses the first of a 1 & 1 for Hancock. Then fouls out of the game, but Turner misses the free throw. Hancock 44-43 :30.

An easy layup for Kenny Moore backfires after he loses the ball. Turner comes back and drains a three in the corner by Marquis Jackson. Hancock 44-43 1:09.

Their triple teaming of Holsey is beginning to backfire. Holsey passes the ball to James Watkins who is open for a jumper just inside the arc. Hancock 44-40 1:38.

Hancock gets a steal after a bad pass from Turner’s Champ Spikes. Their defense ahs been the key to this turnaround.

3rd Quarter

With four Turner defenders around him

Two straight turnovers for Hancock, Coach Holland has to be happy with his team’s defense. He also brings in more height off the bench. Turner 33-29 1:29

Since going small Turner has struggled on offense. They are sporting two players around 6’5” with everyone else hovering around 6 feet even. They are forced to only take jump shots, and at this point they aren’t falling.

Turner has begun to triple team Holsey, but he is still getting the ball and got fouled for the second straight possession. Makes both free throws. Turner 30-29 2:55.

Turner is forcing the bigs of Hancock to get the ball at the top of the key, somewhere they aren’t as comfortable. However on this possession Holsey demonstrates his inside out game, making a baby hook and getting fouled. Turner 30-27 3:18.

Jackson also added a three-pointer that had the whole crowd on the edge of their seats. The ball was halfway down, popped out, then rolled around the cylinder before falling in.

Marquis Jackson just drove down the court on a secondary fast break, and danced his way through the Hancock’s bigs, scoring a layup. He has played outstanding in the 2nd half. Media Timeout 4:37 Turner 27-24.

Hancock is going to get open looks in this second half. Turner is doubling down on Holsey when he gets the ball, leaving the perimeter players open. If they can knock those down this game will be Hancock’s for the taking.

Turner’s defense however has really picked up. Turner gets a steal and a shot attempt, before being fouled after implementing a full court press. Turner 25-24 6:27

Hancock already has two team fouls one minute into the 3rd. They can’t get lazy defensively, they need to keep their feet moving.

NOW THAT’S HOW YOU START A HALF! Right out of the locker room Turner runs a set play and gets an alley-oop from Marquis Jackson to Demetrius Ewing. The play ignited the crowd and the bench, who sensed it was coming. On the other end Ewing blocks Holsey’s shot. 7:12 Tie 24-24.

Turner starts with the ball here in the 2nd half down by two. Wonder if Turner’s deep bench will work to their advantage in the second.


It has been an extremely sloppy first half from both teams. That pace has to favor Turner who would much rather play a game in the fifties rather than the seventies. Remember in their last game Turner held the defending state champions to their lowest point total in three years, this game is on pace to follow the same trend.

Expect lots of changes in the second half, while Turner will look to take advantage of their speed and Hancock will look to find ways to get their offense on track. Defensively each team is doing a great job of disrupting the game. Hancock is clogging the paint with their bigs, making life difficult on the rebounding side for Turner, while Turner has utilized their speed to keep the ball out of the paint and out of Holsey’s hands.

Before we get back to game action I must compliment the Turner coach in his attire. He looks like Bruce Pearl, sporting the orange sports jacket, Turner’s primary color, with a black bow tie. Hancock’s coach isn’t too shabby himsel

2nd Quarter

18 seconds left and Hancock is looking to extend their two point lead before half, but the ball gets away and a scrum begins. Halftime Hancock 22-20.

Two big misses by Holsey at the foul line with one minute left in the quarter. Turner is now in the bonus. Turner is faster along the perimeter than Hancock and that has lead to a tied game at 20. with 40 secs. left.

For a big guy Holsey handles the ball outstandingly, as Turner picks up a full court press. Hancock 20-18 1:18.

With very little success getting the ball to Holsey Hancock is moving him on the perimeter to free up the lane for drives by Fluellen.

Holsey took advantage of an offensive board right out of that timeout, and also almost got a steal flashing out on defense. Hancock 20-16 2:36.

The game has been sloppy throughout as both teams are trying to beat their opponents off the dribble. If either team can slow down the page of the game and get better looks at the basket that is the team that will prevail. Early Holsey has yet to get clean looks and Turner has not suffered from their lack of height. Hancock 18-14 3:34

1st Quarter

Each team suffering from early game jitters as neither team’s offense has been able to get in sync. Holsey scores the first basket off an offensive rebound, 5:56 HC 5 - TC 0.

The battle between Turner and Hancock Central will be an intriguing one as the two teams bring two very different styles to the court. Hancock’s Kammeon Holsey is a beast inside at 6’8”, while Turner’s lineup features much shorter players, with their starting center standing at 6’5”.

1A Championship - Girls Terrell County vs. Calvary Day

4th Quarter
Another turnover forced by Hewett of Calvary. After shoring up that rebounding problem they have excelled.

Someone should tell Natalie Paris that you get 3 points from the closer black line too. For the second time in the game she hit 3 pointer from beyond the NBA line. Time out Terrell. 5:26 CD 44-40.

Best Terrell possession of the day, they patiently took the ball inside, waiting for the double team on Thomas and passing out of it, leaving Timnah Hendry with an easy bucket. Covington hits 2 ft's on the other side. CD 41-38 6:17

Sarah Hewett now doing damage offensively hitting the wide open jumper from about 12 feet away. CD 39-36.

Well it looks like everyone is awake now and the Centreplex here in Macon is about half full. We start, Calvary with the ball and up by one, the final eight minutes left.

3rd Quarter
In the waning seconds Thomas goes coast to coast to lay in a shot. The quarter ends with the star of the quarter Calvary's Natalie Paris, scored two threes, missing a shot at the buzzer. Calvary takes a one point lead into the fourth, 37-36.

Thomas again is responsible for bringing the ball up, and she scores on a back door cut after passing the ball off. A veteran move by an excellent player. Coming back Natalie Paris of Calvary hits an NBA three to tie the game at 30.

Calvary has been able to keep Terrel's defense moving in the second half, getting better looks at the basket. Covington has carried the team offensively but the second half star has to go to Sarah Hewett. She just hit 1 of 2 ft's but defensively she has made life difficult for Thomas, with her only points coming on a fast break opportunity. Media Time out 4:32 TC 28 - CD 27

Covington drives and gets fouled, 1 of 2 FTs. Coming back the other way Thomas again brings the ball up and Terrell gets another offensive rebound. Then comes back after a block gets a layup and is fouled. TC 28 - CD 26

Again a Terrell press leads to open Covington shot, this time for three. 6:07 CD 25 - TC 24

Give Sarah Hewett of Calvary credit. She is guarding Thomas and is jumping out making it difficult to get her the ball. As a result she caused Thomas to mishandle the ball for a Terrell turnover.

After a miss by Thomas, Terrell implements a full court press which Calvary and Covington beat for a lay-up. 7:01 TC 24- CD 22

Terrell starts with the ball and the ball slips out of the hands of the Calvary defender, leaving the ball with Terrell.

The teams have switched ends and we're ready for the final 16 minutes of action here in Macon.

Score: Terrell 24 Calvary Day 20

It looks like Coach Hamilton's philosophy for keeping Terrell off the glass includes tapping the ball out of the block allowing for Calvary's guards to fight for the ball. Offensively Calvary has been able to catch Terrell over pursuing in their zone, and that's probably the most effective they've been able to be on offense. Katie Covington has kept them in the game scoring nine points.

For Terrell as usual the story begins and ends with Monshay Thomas. She was kept to four points in the first, but in the second she went off scoring nine bringing her total to 12. In my opinion, Terrell hasn't taken full advantage of their size inside except when it came to offensive rebounds. Defensively Terrell has utilized their size blocking multiple shots by Calvary.

With that the girls are back on the court.

2nd Quarter:
Well the 2nd ended much like the first quarter. Let's all take a deep breath and relax, it's too early to keep up with all of this excitement. As we speak the boys of Hancock Central have hit the quart to warm up, along with the boys from Turner County.

Surprisingly Calvary has remained in this game even while lacking an inside presence. They have been successful hassling the guards and getting their hands up when the ball goes to the post. On the other side Terrell's height allows them to make open shots difficult for Calvary. TC 24 CD 20

Good Idea: Pass Thomas the ball when she's open.
Bad Idea: Leave her open for a transition three. 2:37 TC 22-CD 18

To try and get the ball in the hands of their best player Terrell is now having Thomas bring the ball up. Calvary is doing a great job of stopping the ball handler just as she crosses half court. 5:03 TC 16-CD 14

Okay so the nerves might be in Calvary's head. For the second time they have shot a three pointer from the NBA range, instead of the high school/ college range. There are two lines on the court here in Macon, probably not a great idea, but Calvary just needs to make sure they're behind the right line. Terrell back in man-to-man. TC 14- CD 12

Monshay Thomas is so quick, taking advantage of the slightest edge she's given on the baseline. Calvary living and dying by the three early, 2-4. On the other end Thomas is being flustered by the physical defense Calvary is using against her.

Calvary should be happy they've kept Thomas to only four points in the first quarter. However their struggles rebounding the ball has given Terrell too many extra opportunities. Calvary played with greater intensity early and caused a plethora of turnovers, but were unable to keep the lead. If Calvary keeps up the intensity on Thomas and improves the rebounding they'll have a good shot. TC 12 - CD 9 Calvary starts with the ball.

1st Quarter:
The 1st quarter closes with a flurry of points. Calvary is able to get an offensive rebound off a three for an easy basket and with 1 second left Shaylia Jester gets an offensive rebd. for Terrell scoring just as the buzzer sounded making the score Terrell 12 - 9.

Terrell's big advantage will come inside if they can get the ball past the pesky defenders from Calvary. They have a height advantage and should be able to use that for a rebounding edge. Three offensive rbds. in one possession.

Calvary has had the ball for over a minute, trying to find gaps in the zone. They are catching Terrell over pursuing and drain a three. 2:06 CD 7 TC 6

The zone has Calvary a bit flustered. However it has lead to some offensive rebounds. Terrell calls a timeout with 3:52 to go. Just to recap some early action. Terrell is funneling their offense through Thomas who has all their points. As for Calvary their are perfectly happy to play on the perimeter with the zone in the game. They don't have a dominating inside prescence and are willing to challenge Terrell with their speed. 3:56 TC 4 - CD 4

The play has been very physical early, reminding me of a Big Ten basketball game. Points and rebounds are going to be tough to come by. Early Monshay Thomas is putting Terrell on her back with all of her teams points. 5:56 TC 4 - CD 2

Terrell opens in a zone to keep Calvary out of the paint, but it's lead to two quick fouls and two Calvary points. 6:50 CD2 - TC0

Terrell wins the tip and begins the ball but a steal by Calvary sets up their first offensive possession.

Well the competition has begun even before tip-off as the "Lets Go Greenwaves" and "Let's Go Calvary" have tried to out done by each team's opposing fans.

A few stray thoughts before tip-off:

Just a reminder, I will try and keep a track of individual point totals, but they are by no means official, just my running tally. So lets get ready for some basketball!

The clock says three minutes to go till tip. Fan support looks about split as each team has the immediate section behind their bench filled with supporters. The starters have removed their warmups and tip-off is just around the corner.

Just finished with the playing of our National Anthem and the girls of Calvary Day and Terrell County continue their final shots in warm up. Just by where each team is shooting from in warmups you expect Terrell to take advantage of their size inside while Calvary will rely on their jump shot from the top of the key.

10 minutes to go and both teams have headed back to their benches and the pre game festivities begin.

Luckily both these teams have already played one contest in this arena. One of the most difficult things to get used to is the changed depth perception when you are out of a close knit gym you see in area high schools.

Right as the horn sounded the Calvary Day players came out on the court to the cheers of their fans. Not to be out done the Greenwaves appeared immediately following. The teams have begun shoot around and Terrell looks like the looser of the two teams, joking and chatting while the Calvary Day squad is fairly quiet. Don't let that be deceiving however, one thing I remember the late George Morris say about Coach Dodd is he always preached saving one's energy during warm up so to be ready when the game is on the line. We'll see which philosophy works today.

Thirty minutes before game time and their is an excitement as fans wait for the players to hit the court. As I type the chants and cheers of the Terrell County players can be heard from the hallway so expect them to hit the court soon. They are the favorite as the #1 team from Region 1 and looking for their second title in four years, so they'll be playing the role of the favorite. We'll see how they respond.

If you haven't checked it out I suggest reading the previews put together by my fellow SCORE-Atlanta writers. If you have yet to check out the 1A preview I'll give you the cliff notes. As mentioned Terrell County is led by Monshay Thomas. On the other side Calvary Day has a much more balanced scoring, although you wouldn't have known that seeing their semi-final match in which Katie Covington went off scoring 29 points.

50 minutes until tip-off and the fans are beginning to file into the Macon Coliseum. Don't know how loud things will be with most people still waiting for the caffeine from their coffee to kick in. Can't quite tell who's bringing more fans at this point as most people have their coats over their school gear. However one kid is brave enough to wear his Calvary Day t-shirt and mesh shorts in this weather, so I'll give the Cavaliers the early advantage in terms of fan support.

Driving in this morning from Atlanta made this trip extremely interesting as I woke to snow pelting me in the face. Atlanta weather is some of the most unstable I have ever experienced. One day after enjoying the sun in sorts and a t-shirt, I was bundling up for my travel. Reminds of the famous slogan about Boston weather, "If you enjoy the weather, stay a few hours." But back to basketball, I am extremely excited to see Monshay Thomas in person of Terrell County. She's a prolific scorer who knows how to control the tempo of the game. Calvary Day will have to use a swarming defense to try and stop her. It's something we'll follow throughout the day

Good morning ladies and gentleman, my name is Jason Boral and I will be giving you live updates of the 2008 1A Championship Finals live from here in Macon, GA. The weather in the Atlanta-metro area is pretty nasty, I'll get to that later, so sit down relax, grab a cup of joe maybe a bagel or two and enjoy as I give you analysis updates and my personal thoughts on the game. Feel free to leave comments or e-mail me at We're about an hour fifteen away from opening tip of the women's game at 11:00 am.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Boys 5A Finals: Wheeler vs. Norcross

Fourth Quarter Action:
Norcross wins it all 57-54.

Wheeler fails to foul Norcross and Taariq Mohammad scores, giving Norcross a three-point lead with five seconds left. Wheeler misses a desperation attempt at a three. 

Phil Taylor responds for Wheeler, hitting a fade away jumper with 14 seconds remaining. Norcross leads 55-54.

Wheeler fouls Aminu, down one with 25 seconds left. In big-time fashion, Aminu sinks both foul shots, giving Norcross a three-point lead. 

Down three with 31 second remaining, Wheeler guard Phil Taylor sinks two foul shots, pulling Wheeler to within one. 

A timeout is called with 1:45 left in the game, Aminu at the line, and a one-point Norcross lead.

Aminu drains a huge three for the Blue Devils at the 2:50 mark. Despite disapproval from both Aminu and the Norcross fans, he is call for a foul. Wheeler sinks both foul shots and pulls back to within one, 48-49.

The game has moved inside late, as the teams have traded inside baskets. The game is tied 46-46 with 3 minutes left.

After Norcross tied the score at 42, Wheeler's Jones missed two foul shots, while Denzail Jones for Norcross made two, giving the Blue Devils a 44-42 lead with 4:51 left.

Denzail Jones has carried his hot shooting over to the fourth quarter, as he hit another deep two to tie the game. Again, however, Wheeler answered, this time with a Richard Howell layup.

Aminu immediately gets to the line, makes one of two, and ties the game at 38. But Ari Stewart scores to give Wheeler a two-point lead. 

We are eight minutes away from crowning the boys 5A basketball champions.

Third Quarter Action:
With one minute left, Wheeler holds the ball for the last shot. Tired, Norcross allows it, but prevents Wheeler from getting any points out of the last possession. 38-37 Wheeler after three. 

With 2:45 left in the third, Aminu throws down a tremendous dunk, lifting off about only two steps inside the free-throw line. Norcross extends its lead to four, but Wheeler responds with a three, a steal and another basket, taking a one-point lead, 38-37.

At the 3:20 mark, a television timeout is called with Norcross clinging to a 35-33 lead. 

The game is being played at a hectic pace.
Wheeler has done a great job establishing itself on the offensive glass in the second half. 
Neither team is doing a very good job taking care of the ball, however. 
With 3:30 left in the third, the teams are tied at 33. 

Wheeler has opened the half with great aggression, taking the lead 33-32. They have played tremendous defense and tough in the paint, both on offense and defense. 

First Half Impressions:
Both teams have settled down and their offenses have benefited as a result. Norcross leads 28-24 and seemed to get more high-percentage shots in the first half, while Wheeler has stayed in the game with some timely outside shooting and strong play from Dequan Jones, who leads the team with seven points at the half.
Aminu leads Norcross with eight points.
The second half is anyone's game, as both teams are playing above the rim and display a great ability to go on runs.  

Second Quarter Action:
Hot shooting from Norcross guard Denzail Jones and yet another Aminu block has helped Norcross build a five-point lead, 26-21, with one minute left in the first half. 

With four minutes left in the second, Wheeler has cut the Norcross lead to four, and has done so with phenomenal defense and good shooting.  

Both teams have started the second quarter hot, with A.J Hawkins playing well for Norcross and Dequan Jones continuing his dominance for Wheeler. He had yet another monster dunk only moments ago. Wheeler seems to have really picked up their energy. 5:50 left in second: Norcross leads 21-17.

First Quarter Action:
You wouldn't think it from the score, but Dequan Jones has been tremendous in the the first quarter. He has showed brilliant dribbling skills, good athleticism, and an amazing ability to find the open man. Jones has led the Wheeler comeback charge, now down 17-11 at the end of the first. 

A thunderous dunk from Dequan Jones and some solid Wheeler defense has helped Wheeler get back in the game, now down 17-7.

Al-Farouq Aminu just had a nasty dunk for Norcross, one rarely seen at the high school level. Norcross has gotten some easy baskets in transition and looks far more together than Wheeler. They started the game with much more energy than Wheeler and it shows in their 17-3 first quarter lead.

With 6:23 left in the first, Wheeler uses their first timeout, as Norcross opened the game on a 6-0 run. They look a bit more composed and under control then the opposing Wheeler squad. 
Wheeler has settled too much early for outside jumpers.

Aminu responds for Norcross with a block of his own and a monstrous dunk. 4-0 Norcross. 

Wheeler wins the toss and begins the game with an air ball from senior Dequan Jones. They follow it up with a vicious block on the other end from Richard Howell. 

Pre Game Observations:
Last Pre game observation: There are no better high school fans out there than the ones from Norcross. 

They are announcing now the players and you can't find a more exciting atmosphere than the one here. It is just insanely loud. 

Just from looking at the two teams, Wheeler will have a decided height advantage. Richard Howell, Dequan Jones and Ari Stewart are just huge, with only Norcross' Aminu comparing favorably. Norcross will look to use their quickness and a consistent outside shooting game to capture the state title. 

The crowd is showing absolutely tremendous energy, especially the fans from Norcross. Wheeler is the first team to take the floor and looks as focused as a team can look. 
Norcross takes the floor second and seems to be jumping around a bit more than Wheeler, really feeding off the crowd's energy. We are currently 13 minutes away from the tip. 

Girls 5A Final: Redan vs. Stephenson

Final Impressions: 
The Stephenson girls won by a final score of 58-43. As expected, the entire team rushed the court, showing the kind of genuine excitement you only see at the high school level. Jylisa Williams led the way for the Stephenson bunch, both scoring the basketball and keeping the team under control. The impressive Stephenson victory had nothing to do with game plan or even execution; they just simply had the Redan team out-manned. Another noteworthy observation: I can't remember the last time I saw a team record more blocks than Stephenson did today. In the end, they were simply just too tall and athletic for the Redan girls. 

Fourth Quarter Action:
With only 2:48 left and a 49-33 lead, Stephenson is playing smart, keep-away basketball. They will simply run out the clock and capture the 2008 state championship with relative comfort. 

Redan has made the change to a full-court press and it has worked extremely well. The score now is 44-29 Stephenson. However, there is only 4:38 left in the game, so Redan has a lot of work left in their comeback attempt. 

Alisha Andrews has had herself a nice start to the fourth quarter, bringing her team to within 20 at 23-43. It is too little and way too late, however. 

Third Quarter Action:
More of the same to finish out the third. Stephenson just has way too much height and athleticism for Redan to deal with. Notably, Stephenson recorded at least ten blocked shots through three. They now hold a 43-20 lead with one quarter remaining. The inevitable Stephenson state championship will be prolonged for only one more quarter. 

With such a big lead, Stephenson has really looked to slow the game down in the third. They have used their height advantage to get good looks pretty regularly and have played swarming defense, limiting Redan to only four third-quarter points. With 3 minutes left, Stephenson leads 41-18.

It seems I spoke too soon. There is 4:45 left in the third and, since my last post, Stephenson has reeled off 8 straight points to build their lead to 39-18. 

Redan begins the second half with a quick steal and layup from the diminutive Alisha Andrews. 
Stephenson has had two possessions and no shots. The score is now 31-18

First Half Impressions:
Yasheeka Jones and Jylisa Williams are having a solid first halves for Stephenson. Alisha Andrews, Redan's go-to scorer, is struggling and looks as though she may actually be sick. 
Stephenson totally dominated the first half, taking a 31-14 lead into the locker room. They are not winning because they are controlling pace or inflicting their will; they simply have bigger, stronger, faster athletes and have used them to get loads of offensive rebounds, double-digit blocks and more than enough easy looks at the basket.

Second Quarter Action:
Redan closed the second quarter the same way they began it: struggling to find good looks. 

You can tell Redan is now making a concerted effort to get the ball into the post and has done a great job doing so. Stephenson has piled up block after block, however, leaving Redan with no results for their hard work. We are two minutes away from the half with Stephenson leading 25-12

Redan is really struggling right now and the biggest reason behind their problems is they simply can't keep Stephenson off the offensive glass. Stephenson is getting two to three shots every time down the floor. They now lead 25-10 with 3:30 left in the half.

Redan is playing solid defense, but just cant seem to score, even when they are getting open layups. 
Stephenson is hitting the boards and has taken twice as many shots as Redan. With 4:44 left in the second, they hold a comfortable 21-8 lead.

Stephenson is red hot from the outside, but is getting good, high-percentage shots. Redan, on the other hand, has been forced to shoot from the outside, and has been ice cold doing so. 

To start the second Stephenson has switched to a zone defense, trying to force Redan to settle for the outside shot; it has worked. Meanwhile, Stephenson has managed to get good high-percentage shots, usually in transition off Redan misses. They lead 17-8 with 6:30 left in the second. 

First Quarter Action:
Redan has managed to get a lot of good looks in at the basket, while Stephenson has mainly feasted off of outside shots, though they did get some easy layups just before the end of the first. Alisha Andrews has done a good job using her speed to beat the Stephenson press. As the first quarter  came to close, Stephenson began imposing their will on the Redan bunch with solid defense and good transition offense. They lead 14-8 after one. 

Both teams have settled down a bit with only 2:30 left in the first. Jylisa Williams for Stephenson just hit a pretty pull-up jumper to give her team an 8-6 lead.

Alisha Andrews gets out on the break, is fouled and makes one of two. All tied up at four. 

Alisha Andrews hits the first basket for Redan with 5 minutes left in the first, making it 4-3 Stephenson. Andrews was hot in warmup from the left side of the court and found that same spot just moments ago.

5:39 left in the first. Stephenson is up 4-0, with a layup and two made free-throws

Both teams seem to have the jitters early. Stephenson is playing playing a full court pressure defense, making it hard for Redan to get into their offensive sets.

Redan won the tip with Alisha Andrews missing her first attempt. Redan has elected to openthe game play man-to-man defense.

Pre Game action:
We are only three minutes away from tip now and both teams are a bit more subdued than before. The fans have all arrived, but have been quiet up until now; let's call it the calm before the storm. 

We are currently 13 minutes away from tip-off. Both teams are running layup lines. 

It's 6:40 and both teams have taken the court. The girls from Redan look loose and relaxed, like their having fun and ready to go. 
Stephenson seems to be wearing the pressure a little bit more; they are playing the role of favorite with a very business-like approach