The McEachern Lady Indians advanced to the 7A semifinals with a 77-29 victory over Mill Creek. McEachern won its 13th straight game and increased their state record for most consecutive state tournaments wins in the highest classification to 18.
McEachern (24-6) will face Archer (25-4) in the semifinals. Archer defeated Colquitt County 55-50 to advance. McEachern has defeated Archer each of the previous three seasons in the playoffs.
On the other side of the 7A bracket Norcross defeated Westlake 57-44 and will meet Collins Hills in the semifinals. Norcross (28-2) has won 10 consecutive games and is ranked tenth nationally in the Max Preps Xcellent 25. Collins Hill (25-4) defeated Lambert 57-46 to earn its spot in the semifinals.
The semifinals will be Saturday March 4th at the University of West Georgia beginning with Norcross vs Collins Hill at 2pm and McEachern vs Archer at 6pm.
There are two teams remaining in the Georgia state tournament in classifications 2A-7A that are four-seeds. The Lithonia Bulldogs are one of those two and are the only team in those classifications with a losing record (13-16). Pardon the Bulldogs if they don’t mind you overlooking them because of their sub-500 record, ask Villa Rica and Riverdale.
Head Coach Wallace Corker has his Bulldogs in the quarterfinals because they did not dodge anybody when it came to scheduling this season. In addition to the tough schedule the Bulldogs only played six homes games all season.
“We set it up the way we did on purpose,” Corker said.” We knew we had a new team coming back and wanted to get them experience against good competition outside of the region.”
The Bulldogs finished fourth in region 5-5A which contains all Dekalb County (Ga) schools. Dekalb County has won a basketball championship either boys or girls for 14 consecutive seasons across multiple classifications.
The region schedule saw the Bulldogs split two games against Columbia (region runner up; Sweet 16, five-time state champs), drop two games to Southwest Dekalb (Sweet 16) and drop three games to Miller Grove (region champs, Elite Eight, seven-time state champs). The Bulldogs also faced improving region opponents Chamblee (split two games) and Arabia Mountain (won 2 of 3 games) that did not make the playoffs.
Lithonia took on all comers running the floor against 7A schools McEachern (Elite Eight) and Roswell (lost in first round), 6A Heritage-Conyers (lost in first round) and Douglas County (did not make playoffs), 5A contenders Eagles Landing (lost in Sweet 16) , Fayette County (Elite Eight) along with quick rising New Hampstead-who loss to Buford in the Sweet 16 on a buzzer-beater. 3A noteables Jenkins (Elite Eight) and Johnson-Savannah (lost in Sweet 16 to Pace Academy), and 1A private St. Francis (Elite Eight).
Roswell, Douglas County and Jenkins were the only games Lithonia won. That is as good of a scheduling resume as your are going to find for a team that did not play an out-of-state opponent this season.
“We knew within our region it would come down to winning one game to make the playoffs so we wanted to prepare the guys for the playoffs and compete,” Corker said.
Lithonia has made the semifinals the past two seasons however this team is different from those teams. The Bulldogs only have ten players and all ten play. Robert Hatchett III and Cortez Robinson provide the senior leadership as both played key roles on those semifinal teams. Zion Cain, Christian Parker and Sydarius Stinson also play valuable roles for Lithonia.
“This team is more team oriented, play well together and the guys really like each other, we haven’t had any issues all season,” Corker said. “They are committed to getting better and our parents are supportive.”
Hatchett III has big game experience for Lithonia in both football and basketball. In football Hatchett threw the game-winning touchdown pass on a Hail Mary against Arabia Mountain to put the Bulldogs in the playoffs. In basketball he did it again to Arabia Mountain this time with a game-winning layup in the region tournament that put the Bulldogs in the state playoffs.
“We joked with him that (Arabia Mountain) does not want to see him anymore,” Corker said.
Nobody may want to see Lithonia if they just simply look at their record.
Up next for the Bulldogs is a trip to Cedar Shoals (24-4) Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
The Elite Eight will begin next week and some home venues needed to be decided by a coin flip due to both teams being the same seed. The results are in for those games.
In class 7A Pebblebrook will host Norcross while Tift will travel to Newton. Pebblebrook defeated Norcross in December in the Tournament of Champions Fab Four bracket championship. Grayson is the lone three-seed in the quarterfinals. The Rams will host the lone four-seed remaining in Brookwood. Wheeler is the only two-seed remaining and will travel to McEachern. McEachern defeated Wheeler in December in the Tournament of Champions National bracket championship game.
In class 5A Buford will host Warner Robins while Fayette County will host Carver-Atlanta. Lithonia (13-16) is the only four-seed and only team with a losing record in the 5A quarterfinals. The Bulldogs will travel to Cedar Shoals Wednesday. Cedar Shoals and Riverwood are the only two-seeds remaining in the quarterfinals. Riverwood will travel to Miller Grove.
In class 4A LaGrange will host Henry County while Carver-Columbus will host St. Pius X. Perry and Thomson and three-seeds that are in the quarterfinals. Perry will travel to twp-seeded Sandy Creek while Thomson will travel to one-seed Upson-Lee.
In class 3A Pace Academy will host Westside-Macon while Calhoun will host Jenkins.
In class 2A Washington County will host top-ranked South Atlanta while Swainsboro will host Chattooga.
Class 6A did not have any games where the venue had to be determined by a coin flip.
In girls class 7A the No.1 and No.2 teams Norcross and McEachern will play on the road in the quarterfinals. Unranked Westlake will host top-ranked Norcross. Norcross has not lost to a team from Georgia this season. Mill Creek will host McEachern. McEachern has not lost to an opponent all season in a true road game as all six of their losses have came on a neutral floor. Archer will host Colquitt County. Colquitt County is in the quarterfinals for the first time in since 2006 and fourth time in school history.
In class 5A Eagles Landing will host Southwest Dekalb. The No.1 and No.2 teams in the state will play on the road in the quarterfinals when Maynard Jackson will host top-ranked Griffin and Warner Robins will host second-ranked Buford.
Carver-Columbus will host Jefferson in class 4A while unranked Tatnall County will host Greater Atlanta Christian in class 3A.
All eight one-seeds in Class 2A make up the Elite Eight. Top-ranked Laney will travel to Heard County. Hapeville Charter will host Bleckley, Rabun County will host Fitzgerald, and second-ranked Model will host Bryan County.
As with the boys Class 6A did not have any games where the venue had to be determined by a coin flip.
Georgia also released the classification locations for the state finals. Stegeman Coliseum on the campus of the University of Georgia will host the 6A, 5A, 3A and 1A Public Finals. The 1A Public and A finals will be played on Wednesday March 8th. The 6A and 3A finals will be played on Thursday March 9th.
McCamish Pavilion on the campus of Georgia Tech will host the 7A, 4A, 2A and 1A Private finals. The 4A and 1A Private finals will be played on Friday March 10th. The 2A and 7A finals will be played on Saturday March 11th.
Basketball is a game of runs, you must make them and withstand them.
Harrison used an 11-0 run in the first quarter behind 10 points from junior Audrey Jordan to lead Tucker 15-5 after a quarter of play. Tucker could never get going in the first half suffering from poor shooting and turnovers. Sydnee Wiggins’ three-pointer capped a 7-0 run giving the Lady Hoyas their biggest lead of the game 22-8 with 4:23 left in the second quarter. Tucker would fight back and close the half with a 6-0 spurt and trailed 22-14 at halftime.
In the third quarter behind seniors Bria Bass, Jermese Davis and Morgan Collins, Tucker pulled to within one point twice during a 13-3 run and trailed 29-28 with 2:30 remaining. Per the theme of this contest the Lady Hoyas withstood that run and finished the third quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 35-28.
In the final frame Harrison (24-5) held Tucker (22-7) to only seven points and never allowed the Lady Tigers closer than six points to prevail in the scrappy contest 43-35.
Audrey Jordan led Harrison with 15 points, Sydnee Wiggins tallied 11 while Raicheal Tringali chipped in 10.
“Audrey is a trooper, she’s a future college player. She can play outside she can play inside She is almost always good for a double-double but tonight she figured out that she was able to get around her defender early and kept taking the ball to the basket and getting good looks,” Harrison head coach Steve Lanahan said about the junior’s quick start.
Wiggins missed 12 games this season due to a left foot injury. In her first game back in the region tournament she suffered a right foot injury and is playing at less than full strength.
“It’s tough because we have to play (Wiggins) but we also have to rest her. She isn’t getting a lot of reps in practice, for the last week she has just been watching, walking around and shooting on the side,” Lanahan said. “When healthy she is good for about 20 points but we have her on the floor because of her basketball IQ. We don’t need her to score because we have other people that can do that but she is smart, can handle the ball, find the open man and knows how to pick off passes even at fifty percent.”
Bria Bass led Tucker with 13 points while Jermese Davis put in 10. Morgan Collins chipped in seven in the loss.
The state tournament opened Saturday night on the McEachern campus with the girls and boys winning in decisive fashion. Both teams were playing at-large teams from the 7A classification.
Lyndsey Whilby scored 14 while Que Morrison netted 10, Jewell Smalls finished with 12 and Allison Burke put in 11 as McEachern (22-6) defeated South Gwinnett (17-8) 68-35. The Lady Indians had command of the basketball game from the beginning and led 45-17 at intermission. McEachern will host North Forsyth Thursday in the 7A Sweet 16. North Forsyth (21-7) defeated Parkview 45-26 in the first round.
On the boys side McEachern (27-0) defeated Mill Creek (13-13) 89-55 in the first round of the state tournament. Isaac Okoro finished with 28 points while Sharife Cooper tallied 18 and defensive ace Babtunde Akingbola chipped in 11. The Indians will host Lambert Thursday in the 7A Sweet 16. Lambert (24-4) outlasted Meadowcreek 72-70 in the first round.
Hours after laying to rest former Cedar Shoals standout basketball and football player Quentin Moses- who also starred locally at the University of Georgia and in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins, the Jaguars advanced to the class 5A Sweet 16 with a wire-to-wire victory over Maynard Jackson.
“Today was a very an emotional day, I didn’t know it was going to hit me like it hit me.” Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas said afterwards. “I made my guys aware of the importance and the way Quentin played and the kind of person he was. I told them we were going to represent Quentin in the way he wanted us to play. The last conversation I had with Quentin he said ‘you gonna keep bowing out in the final four or are you going to go ahead and win that thang’ and that was in January. He was trying to tell me I had the tools and to go ahead and get it done.”
Cedar Shoals entered the floor for pregame warmups donning shooting shirts paying tribute to Moses with his basketball No. 44 on the back .
Stavion Stevenson got the ball rolling early for the the Jaguars with nine first quarter points. Stevenson finished with 15 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. Phlandrous Fleming was the only other Jaguar in double figures with 11. Snipe Hall finished with nine while A.J. Jones and Damarrea Lowe each chipped in eight points. The Jaguars led by as many as 20 points and never trailed in the 64-47 state tournament opener.
“I thought Stavion played an outstanding game. All the shots he took were right within the course of what we do and he was hot. The biggest thing he did tonight was play defense on (JaQuavis Hayes). He understood the scouting report, frustrated (Hayes), denied (Hayes) and did everything he could could tonight, he was amazing defensively,” Thomas said.
Stevenson held Hayes well below his average of over 22 points-per-game. Hayes finished with 11 points, seven in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach for Maynard Jackson.
Maynard Jackson (19-9) was led by Marquavis Carter’s 20 points. Keshun Byrd tallied 13 to go with Hayes’ 11.
Cedar Shoals (24-4) will travel to Stateboro (19-9) Thursday night in Sweet 16 action. Statesboro is the Region 2-5A champions and defeated Jones County 63-50 in the first round.
The McEachern Indians are 26-0, the only undefeated 7A team in Georgia entering state tournament play this weekend. McEachern burst onto the national scene and got the attention of many within the state of Georgia with four wins in four days at the Tournament of Champions at Wheeler (GA) high school in late December.
The Indians defeated known powers Thomas Jefferson, NY (defending NY 2A champs), Scotlandville, LA (led by top prospect Javonte Smart) and Oak Ridge (FL) before handling state business over host Wheeler (GA) in the finals. The following Monday they were a top ten nationally in the rankings. McEachern has held firm in the top ten national rankings and a top two spot in most state polls since.
McEachern’s rise surprised some and not others depending on who you ask and who covers basketball.
The Indians’ youth had been a major thing that has gone against them within the state of Georgia. Nationally their play is what shot them up the rankings. State people didn’t understand but for years this site has shown you state borders must be broken.
McEachern goes 8 to 12 deep and maybe beyond. The Indians are versatile, interchangeable and can win ballgames at multiple paces while finishing their defense with rebounding.
Outside of a scrimmage loss to Newton, McEachern has withstood all. The Georgia 7A brackets are out and if both advance to the semifinals they would meet at a neutral site.
McEachern boys have never won a basketball championship in Georgia, never finished a season undefeated and are looking at a historic result no matter when their season ends. In the locker room on the other side of campus the McEachern girls are gunning for their fourth in five seasons and fifth overall.
“Well they have four, we don’t have any,” McEachern boys head coach Mike Thompson said.
“The boys, they remind me a lot of my 33-0 state champ team in 2012. They go above and beyond what is expected. They put in countless hours in the gym and that’s why they are where they are today,” McEachern girls head coach Phyllis Arthur responded when asked about the recent boys success.
Sophomore Isaac Okoro and freshman Sharife Cooper are the leaders for the Indians, but the supporting cast provides the solid backbone.
Valuable contributors whether starting or off bench are Tre Peoples, Brandon Suggs, Babatunde Akingbola, Devin Gordon and Tyler Willoughby are just a few that solidify McEachern’s depth.
“First and foremost they don’t mind giving up the basketball. This team has an air of unselfishness that makes us better. Our bench doesn’t care about coming off the bench. (Isaac) Okoro and (Sharife) Coop (Cooper) with the way they play are a big part of that and Stretch (Babtunde Akingbola) leads us defensively, he give us the ability to take chances,” Thompson said.
McEachern’s path begins with a home tilt against at-large berth Mill Creek, a 13-12 team who got hot late in the year but lost in the region tournament quarterfinals. The Hawks are gunning for an upset however pulling it off would be a tall feat. Mill Creek does not play at the level of McEachern, upsetting McEachern would only hurt the state of Georgia nationally.
McEachern is young and that youth has hidden yet public basketball experience. In 2017 basketball experience is overlooked.
“We started a guy in the region tournament who had not started all year and only played limited minutes all season, he continued to compete in practice, got the nod and will play in state,” Thompson added.
McEachern did not leave the state this season but posted a 3-0 record against out-of-state opponents.
“The state (Georgia) is well equipped with talented teams. There are at least ten teams that can win it in our class (7A). We wanted to schedule non-Georgia teams and tried to schedule them but it did not work out this year. I knew going into the Tournament of Champions at Wheeler we’d get tested and we did, that Scotlandville team gave us all we could handle,” Thompson stated. “I think we’ve put ourselves in position going into state to remain in the conversation.”
McEachern may not finish higher than where they are nationally (6th in Max Preps) unless a lot happens and that’s ok. The four-time champ ladies were undefeated and finished second nationally a few years back but that crew set off what currently is happening at McEachern. The boys are seeking to compete on the Powder Springs campus.
State tournament games against Wheeler, Newton/Westlake and either Norcross or Pebblebrook or longshots Collins Hill/Campbell/Hillgrove in the watered down Georgia playoffs few get to experience this kind of fun.
Fun is exactly what coach Mike Thompson is experiencing in his 10th season heading the boys hoop program at McEachern. That does not bode well for the rest of 7A Georgia. This “young bunch” accepts nothing less than winning.
The Cedar Shoals Jaguars (23-4) will open the 2017 state playoffs at home against another set of Jaguars from Maynard Jackson-Atlanta (19-8) Saturday afternoon at 5pm. Cedar Shoals is seeking its first ever state championship in boys basketball and first basketball championship since 1992 when the Lady Jaguars won it all.
Region 8-5A player of the year Phlandrous Fleming (Charleston Southern) is the driving force behind the second-ranked Jaguars. Fleming is averaging just over 23 points and 10 rebounds this season. Seniors Quenjarvis ‘Snipe’ Hall, Stavion Stevenson (Savannah State for football), A.J. Jones and Damerrea Lowe will play key supporting roles for a team that has reached the semifinals each of the two previous seasons. Tyquon Mitchell and Darien Appling provide solid minutes off the bench.
Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas has guided the Jaguars to the state tournament for the fifth time in his seven seasons and has won three region titles (2012, 2015, 2016) during that span.
“When you go to the state tournament everybody’s record is clean, everybody is 0-0. It doesn’t matter what your seed is at some point you will have to beat the next opponent no matter who they are and what seed they are,” Thomas said.
Three of Cedar Shoals’ losses came to region foe Buford (top-ranked team in 5A; Region 8-5A champs) with their only other loss coming at Duluth (Region 6-7A three-seed) in overtime in early December.
“Cedar is a very very good team, they are well coached, they play hard together and I told our team before the game that Cedar has the talent to win it all this year,” Buford head coach Eddie Martin said after defeating Cedar Shoals in the region championship game last week. Martin has won seven state championships at Norcross and Greater Atlanta Christian combined and is seeking to win his a state championship at his third school.
“I told the team that we had to put Buford behind us- all three games, that we had to be like horses and wear blinders and look ahead and that’s what we are going to do. We are going to focus on the next opponent and the next opponent only, Maynard Jackson is our next opponent,” Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas said.
The Jaguars did not play an out-of-state team this season due to scheduling difficulties however Thomas feels the regular season schedule they played has prepared them for the state tournament.
“When you go to the state tournament everybody’s record is clean, everybody is 0-0. It doesn’t matter what your seed is at some point you will have to beat the next opponent no matter who they are and what seed they are.”
“I think we played a lot of tournament caliber teams all season and at the end of the day we played some top notch teams and I think that has prepared us for the stretch run and state tournament,” Thomas stated.
Cedar enters the tournament with noteable wins over Etowah (Region 4-7A champs), Stephenson (Region 6-6A champs), Heritage-Conyers (Region 6-6A runner up) and a pair of victories over Morgan County (Region 8-3A champ). In an expanded but weakened playoff field this season due to expansion of classifications in Georgia, that’s a solid resume without playing an out-of-state team.
Jackson-Atlanta is led by senior JaQuavius Hayes, juniors Marquvis Carter and Keshun Byrd. Hayes leads the Jaguars in scoring at just above 21 points while Carter and Byrd each are averaging double figure points this season.
Jackson-Atlanta finished third in Region 6-5A after defeating Lithia Springs for the second time this season in the region 6-5A tournament. The Jaguars have played in close games all season losing by one point to Riverwood (Region 6-5A runner-up) and Henry County (Region 4-4A champs) while defeating Carver-Atlanta (Region 6-5A champs) and Stockbridge by two points.
The winner will face the winner of Jones County/Statesboro in the second round next week.
Cedar Shoals will hold a moment of silence after the national anthem to honor the life of Quentin Moses. Moses passed away earlier this week in a house fire along with two other people in Walton County (GA). Moses lettered in basketball at Cedar Shoals but is most known for his football accomplishments at Cedar Shoals, The University of Georgia and in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins. Moses was currently serving as a defensive line coach at Reinhardt College upon his passing.
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