Cedar Shoals Final Four Bound In Georgia 5A

The Cedar Shoals Jaguars have shown the knack of fighting, scraping and clawing to the very end during its postseason run. They stayed true to that Thursday night in front of a capacity crowd at Turner-Neatherly Gymnasium in the 5A quarterfinals against M.L. King.

Cedar Shoals fought through a first half barrage of seven three-pointers by M.L. King, trailed by eight at halftime, by nine at one point in the third quarter, dealt with foul trouble and fought back to within 41-39 by the end of the third.When the fourth quarter opened Jerrick Mitchell hit a floater to even the score 41-all and the Jaguars were in business with a brand new ballgame.

“We put pressure on them, we were playing defense with our hands down, we got our hands up, then they started to isolate us so we changed the defense again to confuse them and that carried us from there”, Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas said about stopping M.L. King from beyond the arc.

M.L. King did not make a three-pointer in the second half.

Patrick Scott nailed his second triple of the contest giving Cedar Shoals its first lead since early in the first quarter 46-45 with just over six minutes remaining. From there the Jaguars and Lions exchanged leads of no bigger than three points the rest of the way.

Sophomore Phlandrous Fleming battled foul trouble most of the night picking up his fourth foul with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. Fleming re-entered the game with 3:40 left and Cedar Shoals trailing 52-51. Moments later Fleming calmly sank a three-pointer putting Cedar Shoals up 54-52 with just over 2:30 remaining. It seemed to be the final spark the Jaguars needed to pull away.

“It was real tough”, Thomas said of Fleming’s foul trouble. “(Fleming) is a guy we need on the floor to be successful. I told him to go back in and take over and he hit that three.”

M.L. King, despite poor free throw shooting down the stretch, took a 58-57 lead on two John Clayton free throws with 17.3 remaining. The Lions finished 13-20 from the stripe.

After a Cedar Shoals timeout, Jerrick Mitchell went coast-to-coast for a layup and the foul. Mitchell missed the free throw but D’Andre Mahaffey got the offensive rebound and putback plus the foul as the building erupted in celebration.

Mahaffey, who posted a game-high 18 points, sank his free throw to give Cedar Shoals the 62-58 lead with 7.6 remaining which held as the final after M.L. King’s desperation attempt to draw a four-point play failed.

Mahaffey’s successful three-point play was his second straight game-clinching basket in as many state tournament games. His three-pointer with six seconds left in the second round against Northside-Warner Robins put Cedar Shoals in the quarterfinals.

“This means the world to me right now. The guys, they fought hard, I’m just so happy with (our effort), Mahaffey said. “Coach is always talking to me about being a leader, I’ve been here the longest and I just try to lead by example. If they see me put my head down they aren’t going to play with that fire that we need so I’m just try to keep pushing and keep their heads in it.”

Mahaffey has committed to play his college ball at VMI in Virginia.

M.L. King (24-6) completed a season where they did not play a single home game in their own gym. Multiple reports confirmed their home gym was set on fire prior to the basketball season beginning. The Lions played a heavy amount of road games with some games designated as “home games” at nearby Dekalb County neighboring high school, Arabia Mountain.

Jordan Martin lead M.L. King with 15 points, Dominique Smart put in 10 however it was Jaquan Jones being held to six points that stood out in the box score. Jones scored 35 in the Lions upset victory against previously undefeated and No.1 ranked McIntosh to put M.L. King in the quarterfinals.

Cedar Shoals (23-8), the region 8-5A champions, advances to the semifinals to face Brunswick at Fort Valley State University Saturday riding a six-game winning streak-all in the postseason, winning all three state tournament games so far at home.

Mitchell, Greg Smith and Stavian Stevenson each finished with nine points while Fleming added seven in limited minutes for the Jaguars.

“They never give up. No matter what they never quit, that’s how they’ve played all year no matter the deficit they are going to play hard, we’re going to the Final Four,” Thomas elated afterwards. “This right here tonight, the atmosphere was incredible. The whole community coming together for Cedar Shoals and were going to the Final Four and hopefully we won’t stop there, our goal is to win it all.”

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Jonesboro Moves Into Top 10, Wheeler Holds Top 5 Spot

The Jonesboro Cardinals will enter their Georgia 4A quarterfinal matchup this week against undefeated Johnson-Gainesville (29-0) with a higher national ranking. Jonesboro moved up two spots from No. 12 to No.10 in the latest Max Preps Xcellent 25 boys basketball Rankings.

Jonesboro (29-1) is riding a 28-game winning streak after a 67-57 victory over St. Pius in the second round. Sophomore sensation James Walker Jr leads the Cardinals in scoring at 17.3 per game followed by Tracey Hector Jr at 11.9 and sharp-shooter Deandre Mack at 11.2. Jonesboro is the defending Georgia 4A champions but must contend with Ty Cockfield (28.6ppg) and Roderick English (19.2ppg) of Johnson-Gainesville if they seek to advance.

Wheeler (27-2), led by one of the nation’s top recruits in Jaylen Brown, remained in the top five holding down the No.5 spot. Wheeler will host Newton in the Georgia 6A quarterfinals this week. Newton (22-8) is considered the “Cinderella” of the 6A tournament after victories over defending champion Tift County in the first round and Dacula in the second round. Newton entered the tournament as the No.4 seed out of their region and won both games on the road.

Brown finished with 37 points and 17 rebounds to lead Wheeler to a commanding 87-68 victory over Douglas County in the second round.

Oak Hill Academy (VA) (41-0-including forfeits) remained in the top spot while Montverde Academy (FL) (28-1) remained at No. 2. Wheeler handed Montverde Academy its only loss this season while Jonesboro’s only loss this season was to Montverde Academy.  Oak Hill and Montverde are slated to play in the Dick Sporting Goods High School Nationals in April. Both teams are private schools and do no not qualify to win state championships in their respective states.

Georgia National Teams Advance In State Tournament: Notes

Georgia is represented by Wheeler (No.5) and Jonesboro (No. 12) in the latest Max Preps Xcellent 25 Boys basketball rankings.Both teams look to stay in the rankings after advancing to the Elite Eight in their respective classifications.

6A Wheeler defeated Douglas County 87-68 in front of a packed house that included North Carolina head coach Roy Williams. Williams lead his Tar Heels to a victory earlier in the day over Georgia Tech in which he opened the game with the “four corners” offensive set to pay tribute to the late Dean Smith, North Carolina scored on the play. Jaylen Brown was the main reason Williams was in attendance and he did not disappoint. Brown finished up 37 points and 17 rebounds in the win. Brandon Robinson finished with 27 for Douglas County (22-8) in defeat.

Wheeler (27-2) will host Newton (22-8) in the quarterfinals. Newton, the No. 4 seed out of Region 2-6A defeated defending 6A champion Tift County 52-49 in the first round and earned their spot in the quarterfinals with a 58-54 victory of Dacula.

4A Jonesboro (29-1) continues to flex their muscles with a 67-57 victory over St. Pius X. Jonesboro pulled away in the quarter after being tied 25-all at halftime and again at 32-all midway into the third quarter. Deandre Mack finished with a team-high 15, Austin Donaldson tallied 14 and sophomore sensation James Walker Jr finished with 11-all in the second half. The Cardinals have won 28 straight games. Jonesboro is 5-1 vs non-Georgia teams this season with its only loss to No.2 Montverde Academy (FL) in the second game of the season. Jonesboro will face Johnson-Gainesville in the quarterfinals. Johnson (29-0) is 1-0 vs non-Georgia teams and has quality in-state wins over Buford (twice), Apalachee, Gainesville and Whitefield Academy.

Notes from Georgia schools that have been on the national radar this season: 

6A Pebblebrook (25-5) defeated Pope 78-59. Ty Hudson scored 26 points to lead Pebblebrook. Pebblebrook used a 22-6 third quarter to break the game open after trailing 38-33 at halftime. Pebblebrook went 4-4 vs non-Georgia opponents, three of those losses are to teams currently ranked in the Top 10 nationally (No.2 Montverde Academy-FL, No. 6 DeMatha -MD, No. 8 Sierra Canyon-CA). Their other non-Georgia loss came to nationally respected yet unranked Bartow (FL). 3A Laney is the lone Georgia opponent to the Falcons this season. Pebblebrook will travel to Norcross in the quarterfinals.

6A Shiloh (26-3) defeated Rockdale County 55-45. Josh Okogie had a team-high 17 points in the win. Shiloh has not lost to a Georgia team this season but is 0-3 vs non-Georgia opponents. The Generals have won six in a row. Shiloh will host Alpharetta in the quarterfinals.

5A McIntosh (29-1) suffered its first loss of the season during ‘win or go home’ time. The Chiefs fell 66-65 to M.L. King (24-5) losing not only the game but standout point guard Will Washington to a wrist injury in the third quarter. Washington would not return and was diagnosed with a broken wrist. Jordan Lyons tallied 22 points for McIntosh.

4A Miller Grove (27-3), defending and six-time state champions, outlasted Statesboro 50-42 in overtime on the road. The Wolverines headliner Alterique Gilbert finished with a team-high 16 points. The Wolverines have won 21 in a row and are 4-2 vs non-Georgia teams. Miller Grove has a victory over St. Francis while their only loss to a Georgia team came at the hands of Jonesboro. Miller Grove will travel to Warner Robins in the quarterfinals.

3A Laney (28-1) extended their winning streak to 28 games with a 68-31 victory over Rockmart. Laney (Augusta, GA) is unranked nationally yet always come up in the discussion with Wheeler, Jonesboro, Greenforest Christian and St. Francis as one of the best teams in Georgia regardless of classification. Laney’s only loss of the season came to St. Francis in the season opener. The Wildcats went 3-0 vs non-Georgia teams and have defeated defended Georgia 3A champion Morgan County twice this season, 3A title contender Jenkins and 6A title contender Pebblebrook-all of which are in the quarterfinals in their respective classes. Laney goes 11-deep most nights led by JaShawn Brooks’ 13 points per game. Laney will travel to East Hall in the quarterfinals.

1A Private Greenforest Christian (25-1) defeated Southwest Atlanta Christian 103-31. John Ogwuche scored 25 points leading five Greenforest players in double figures. Greenforest lone loss came to Pebblebrook. The Eagles posted a 3-0 record vs non-Georgia teams. All three victories came in the Chick-Fil-A Classic in Columbia, SC. The Eagles have scored over 90 points nine times this season scoring over 100 points four times.

1A Private St. Francis (26-3) defeated Lakeview Academy 103-59.Malik Beasley poured in a game-high 32 points while Kobi Simmons pumped in 27 for St. Francis. St. Francis is  6-2 vs non-Georgia teams including a three-point loss to No. 2 Montverde Academy. 5A Miller Grove is the only Georgia team to defeat the Knights this season.

Girls National Rankings and Radar Notes:

2A Holy Innocents (29-0) is the lone girls team from Georgia nationally ranked. The Lady Bears checked in at No.15 in the latest girls Max Preps Xcellent 25. The Lady Bears defeated Bleckley County 68-20 to advance to the Elite Eight. Holy Innocents were the Class 1A private runner-ups last season before moving up in classification this season. Holy Innocents went 5-0 vs non-Georgia opponents with in-state victories over 6A McEachern, 5A Columbus and 1A Private Southwest Atlanta Christian. Columbus (20-7) is the only opponent out of the state tournament in their classification after losing in the first round. Junior Erika Cassel is one of the team’s top scorers and is averaging a double-double this season with points and rebounds. Sophomore Khlaya Pointer is the other leading scorer helping power the Lady Bear attack. Holy Innocents will travel to Vidalia in the quarterfinals.

6A McEachern (22-6) is unranked after holding the No.1 spot until the first week of January. T’ea Cooper totaled 29 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals as the defending 6A champs defeated South Forsyth 56-47. The Lady Indians posted a 5-1 record vs non-Georgia opponents, have wins over quarterfinalist Forest Park (5A) and Parkview (6A) and three losses to Osborne  this season. McEachern has won two of the last three state titles in Georgia’s highest classification and are playing without post players Caliya Robinson and Zieandra Bridges. Robinson played in the first four games before tearing her ACL and MCL while Bridges was involved in a car accident in late January and was ruled out for the season. McEachern will travel to Mountain View in the quarterfinals.

6A Archer (26-5) outscored Tift County 6-4 in overtime to come away with the 50-48 victory on the road. Last season’s 6A runner-up went 2-2 vs non-Georgia opponents, their other three losses came to region foe Parkview. Sisters Madison (Sr) and Autumn Newby (So) power the Lady Tigers but it was Amber Skidgel’s 15 points that led Archer on this night.

6A Osborne (26-2) advanced the Elite Eight with a 58-44 win over North Forsyth. 1A Southwest Atlanta Christian is the only team from Georgia to hand the Lady Cardinals a loss. Osborne posted a 5-1 record vs non-Georgia teams and has three victories over defending champion McEachern this season. Senior Nikira Goings is the leading scorer averaging over 21 points per game. Osborne will travel to Parkview in the quarterfinals.

6A Parkview (25-3) advanced to the quarter finals with a 61-25 victory over Colquitt County.  The Lady Panthers have won 17 straight games and went 2-2 vs non-Georgia opponents with losses coming to No.1 Mater Dei (CA) and No.4 St. Mary’s (CA). McEachern is their only loss to a Georgia opponent. Junior Raven Johnson leads Parkview in scoring at almost 16 points per game followed by Victoria Harris at almost 13 points per game. Parkview will host Osborne in the quarterfinals.

4A St. Pius (27-3) is powered by Asia Durr. Durr is averaging 48 points per game through two state tournament games. Durr scored 44 of her teams 65 points in a 65-50 victory over class 4A No.1 Jonesboro in the second round. Durr scored 52 points in the state tournament opener against Woodward Academy. St. Pius went 3-1 vs non-Georgia opponents this season. The only in-state losses came to 6A Mountain View, who will face McEachern in the 6A quarterfinals and region foe Marist. Thee lost to Marist was in the Region 6-4A tournament championship game. St. Pius will travel to Buford in the quarterfinals. St. Pius defeated Buford in the class 3A title game last season.

Cedar Shoals Elite Eight Bound In 5A

The Cedar Shoals Jaguars (22-8) extended their winning streak to five games with a dramatic 57-56 win over Northside-Warner Robins in the second round of the state tournament.

Trailing 56-54 senior D’ andre Mahaffey nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with six seconds remaining to give the Jags the lead. Northside-Warner Robins (16-11) was unable to get a clean shot off as the horn sounded sending Turner-Neathery Gymnasium into hysteria.

Mahaffey finished with a game-high 22 points.

Cedar Shoals, the No.1 seed out of Region 8-5A, is into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003 and have only advanced beyond the quarterfinals twice in school history. The Jaguars will host M.L. King in the quarterfinals next Wednesday night.

M.L. King (24-5) rallied from 15 down in the second have to defeat previously undefeated and class 5A No.1 McIntosh (29-1) 66-65. Juquan Jones finished with a game-high 35 points for M.L. King. The Lions have not played a home game this season after a fire destroyed their gym prior to the season starting so playing on the road is second nature.