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.