Charles Bassey (St. Anthony’s, TX) finished with 35 points and 16 rebounds as the East defeated the West 117-107 in the Underclassmen All-American National Game. The East, coached by former Florida Gator and NBA player Jason Williams, overcame a 15-point deficit behind Bassey’s 23 second-half points.
DJ Jeffries (Olive Branch, MS) finished with 14, Isaac Johnson (American Fork, UT) tallied 12, Matthew Hunt (John Marshall, MN) put in 11, Isaiah Todd (John Marshall, VA) scored 10 while Sharife Cooper (McEachern, GA) finished with 9 points guiding the comeback from his point guard position.
Bassey’s was named the East team MVP.
James Wiseman (Ensworth TN) led the West with 21 points and 13 rebounds and was named the West team MVP. “KyKy” Tandy (University Heights Academy, KY) netted 16, De’Vion Harmon (Guyer, TX) finished with 13 while Isaac Okoro (McEachern, GA) and Xavier Foster (Oskaloosa, IA) each finished with 12. Former Georgia Bulldog and NBA standout Jarvis Hayes coached the West team.
Isaiah Miller (Newton, GA), also known as “Jumping Jack Flash”, won the dunk contest defeating Damien Rosser (Henry County, GA), Alex O’Connell (Milton, GA) and Devan Cambridge (Pro Vision, TX). Dominique Wilkins was one of five judges for the dunk contest which took place between the National and Select games.
In the Select game the West outlasted the East 77-76. The West was led by Marcus Watson (Buford, GA) with 21 points. Watson was named West team MVP. Ebenezer Dowouna (Heritage Christian, GA) tallied 12 while Chase Hunter (Westlake, GA) completed the double-figure scorers for the West with ten.
Kira Lewis (Hazel Green, AL) led the East with 19 points and was name East MVP. Isaac Martin (Wheeler, GA) and Dontae Allen (Pendleton County, KY) each finished with 11 while Isaiah Adams (Paxon, FL) just missed double figures with nine.
Both games featured underclassmen from the classes of 2019 and 2020 meaning all players had completed either thier freshman or sophomore seasons in high school basketball.
Updated: McEachern(26-6) finished ranked No.1 in class 7A but unranked nationally in the Max Preps Xcellent 25 final rankings. Norcross (29-3) finished ranked No.2 in class 7A and No. 22 in the Max Preps Xcellent 25.
Phyllis Arthur was named 7A Coach of the Year and Que Morrison (Georgia) 7A Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Lindsey Whilby (Texas Tech) was named second team All-State by the AJC.
The McEachern Lady Indians (26-6) extended its state record consecutive state tournament game winning streak to 20 while winning its fourth straight championship in the highest classification with a 75-68 victory over rival Norcross.
Norcross lead 22-15 entering the second quarter and maintained a lead for much of the second quarter. Que Morrison shifted the tenor of the game in the final 30 seconds by scoring the last five points of the half. Morrison connected a three-pointer and then scored on a fast break layup to pull McEachern to within one, 38-37 at halftime. Morrison scored 17 of her 22 first-half points in the second quarter. McEachern’s only lead of the first half was 1-0 in the opening minutes.
Lindsey Whilby connected on a three-pointer as part of a McEachern 8-2 run in the first two minutes of the second half to take a 45-40 lead and would never trailed again. McEachern continued to play at its patented uptempo pace however Norcross would manage to tie it 53-all late in the third quarter on a Taylor Mason bucket. McEachern led 58-55 at the end of three quarters.
The Lady Indians opened the fourth quarter with a small 6-0 spurt to take its biggest lead of the game 64-55 after a pair of Whilby free throws. Reserve Victoria Agyin scored the final 11 points of the game for McEachern as Norcross never got closer than three points the final five minutes of the contest.
“I told them early on if we keep it close to halftime we would win the game because we could outrun them,” McEachern head coach Phyllis Arthur said. “I told them to be patience on offense and that on defense they were beating us man-to-man so we went zone and packed it in the lane and start attacking to make them foul us.”
Morrison finished with a game-high 24 points to go with six rebounds and four assists while Whilby, Agyin and Jewel Smalls each finished with 13 for McEachern. Alexis Burke chipped in seven points and Jasmine Clements finished with four points and game-high 11 rebounds.
Vanessa Blagmon tallied 23 points, Taylor Mason netted 17 and Tionna Carter posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In addition to the championship being McEachern’s fourth straight it was was also their fifth in the last six years.
“Oh my god it’s the best feeling I could ever have,” Arthur exclaimed afterwards. “When nobody else believed we could do it, we even had friends and family members that thought we couldn’t do it because we lost some valuable players, we had girls to step up like Vic (Victoria Agyin) and Alexis Burke, they stepped up and did their jobs, never lost faith and never waivered, they knew from the beginning we could do it.”
McEachern played the latter part of the regular season and all of the state tournament without starters Chanel Wilson, Symone Oliver and Daimaya McPherson who were all out due to season ending injuries suffered in mid-to-late January.
“It says a lot about our program, our younger girls that come in everyday and work hard. I’m just so proud of them, they did a great job and have been working hard all year long,” Arthur responded when asked about the depth of her team in overcoming the injuries. “All of them are stars in my book because they all did what they had to do to win.”
McEachern completed the season on a 15-game winning streak avenging their only in-state loss to Norcross (in season opener). The Lady Indians posted a 6-5 record against out-of-state opponents. Their out-of-state opponents finished with a combined winning percentage of 81%. McEachern defeated Georgia 5A runner-up Southwest DeKalb, 1A Private runner-up Holy Innocents and 3A semifinalist Greater Atlanta Christian in non-region play. The Lady Indians (Cobb County) defeated four Gwinnett County teams in the state tournament (South Gwinnett, Mill Creek, Archer and Norcross).
The McEachern Lady Indians will play in the finals for the fourth consecutive season after defeating Archer 78-58 Saturday at West Georgia University in Carrollton. In the process McEachern extended its record state tournament wins streak at the highest classification to 19.
McEachern (25-6) was led by senior Que Morrision who nearly posted a triple-double with 24 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. Lyndsey Whilby tallied 16 points while Jasmine Clements posted a double-double with 11 points and 17 rebounds. Jewell Smalls chipped in 11 points.
The Lady Indians trademark uptempo offense and pressure defense led to a 24-4 advantage in fastbreak points. McEachern also won the battle on the glass 54-32 scoring 25 second chance points in the process.
McEachern seized control of the game with a 28-4 run in the second quarter after Archer took a a nine-point lead 28-19. McEachern went on to win the quarter 30-13 and was never seriously threatened the remainder of the game.
Autumn Newby fell three assists shy of a triple-double with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists to lead Archer. Linsey Marchese tallied 13 points to go with 5 rebounds.
Archer was eliminated in the state tournament by McEachern for the fourth consecutive year.
McEachern, winners of fourteen in a row, will now turn its attention towards rival Norcross. Norcross (29-2) advanced to the 7A finals with a 37-30 victory over Collins Hill. Vanessa Blagmon tallied 13 points while Taylor Mason netted 11 for the Lady Blue Devils in the victory and will enter finals on an eleven game winning streak. Norcross is ranked tenth nationally in the Max Preps Xcellent 25 and No.1 in all state polls. McEachern is unranked nationally and No.2 in all state polls.
Norcross defeated McEachern 57-53 earlier this season in the Parkview Thanksgiving Tournament. Norcross has not loss to an opponent from Georgia, while the loss to Norcross is McEachern only loss to an opponent from Georgia this season.
McEachern holds a 5-3 series advantage, 2-1 in state championship games, against Norcross since the 2010-11 season. The two programs have combined to win the last seven state championships at the highest classification in Georgia since 2010.
The two powerhouse programs will make it eight state championships combined between the two after Saturday night’s battle at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion. Will Norcross tie the championship score at four or will McEachern win its fifth in the last six years and take a two-game advantage in the championship score.
No matter who wins both has set a fine example for girls and women’s basketball then, now and going forward.
Cedar Shoals has been knocking on the door of the championship game the last two seasons in the semifinals and it just would not open. Losses of one and two points in the semifinals prevented the Jaguars from playing for a state championship. Saturday at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga the Jaguars kicked the door down and left no room for making a third straight semifinal loss.
Powerhouse and defending 5A champion Miller Grove has won seven titles in the last eight years were on the other sideline. The Wolverines are under the direction of first-year head coach Rasual Chester however the expectations at Miller Grove are the same, win championships.
George Wilson III put Miller Grove up 7-5 with a three-pointer with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, that would be the last time the Wolverines would lead. Cedar Shoals broke off one of their patented runs that never left the game in doubt.
Phlandrous Fleming nailed a three as the first quarter ended to put Cedar Shoals up 14-7. Fleming converted a three-point play to open the second quarter and A.J. Jones dropped in a three-pointer to cap a 15-0 run to give Cedar Shoals a 20-7 lead, the Jaguars never looked back.
“We have been playing a lot better defensively which forces teams to take bad shots and we have been great on the defensive boards which leads to transition buckets and it helps us find our rhythm,” Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas said about making massive runs all season.
Snipe Hall drilled a three to give Cedar Shoals a 42-16 lead in the third quarter that sent the Jaguars on their way to a 59-38 victory. The win is not so much a surprise as is the manner of it and margin of victory.
Fleming finished with a game-high 25 points, Stavion Stevenson scored 15, Hall tallied nine while Jones chipped in seven for Cedar Shoals.
“My staff came up with a great game plan and the players worked the plan to a T,” Thomas said. “(The players) were focused and confident.”
Cedar Shoals (27-4) held Miller Grove (21-9) to a season-low 38 points and held leading scoreer Naquante Hardy (20ppg avg) to a season-low five points. Before losing to Cedar Shoals, Miller Grove had only lost to McEachern (7A semifinalist), Wheeler (7A Sweet 16) and Columbia (5A Sweet 16) from the state of Georgia.
“We knew we had to limit (Hardy’s) scoring opportunities and know where he was at all times,” Thomas said. ” I think switching defenses throughout the game gave them problems. We never let them get in a rhythm and we didn’t give up transition buckets.”
Cedar Shoals earned its first-ever appearance in the state championship for the boys program in school history. The girls program won the 1992 state championship under head coach Charles Turner and last played for a state championship in 1999 (lost to Pope).
Cedar Shoals will play for the 5A championship four miles from its campus at the University of Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum.
The second-ranked Jaguars will face top-ranked Buford in the finals. Buford (28-2) earned its spot in the finals by defeating Fayette County (23-8) 83-60 behind 25 points and 14 rebounds by sophomore Marcus Watson. Alex Jones finished with 23 points while David Viti added 16 for the Wolves. Buford is the Region 8-5A champion and has not lost this season to a team from Georgia. Buford and Cedar Shoals have been ranked 1-2 since mid-January by multiple polls in the state.
“It’s an honor just to play in the state finals. To play in it in our hometown makes it special,” Thomas said.
It will be the fourth meeting this season between the two teams with Buford winning all three previous meetings. All three were competitive games with the region championship game having the largest margin of victory of the three contests.
Total Sports Coverage carried all three previous Buford-Cedar Shoals contest this season. Each game is available via the following archive links below…
“Buford is a great basketball team. We can’t look at it as they beat us three times, because right now those loses don’t count,” Thomas said. “The winner of this one gets the biggest prize. We will focus on their strength and things that we feel we can be exploited and instill those in our guys and just go play. We can’t worry about the past.”
Two teams that know each other well, one win is all they need to be the Georgia 5A state champ.
One can only think an expected near capacity crowd at Stegeman Coliseum will be ready to bring the funk and the noise in the Wednesday nightcap.
Miller Grove laid 101 points on Cedar Shoals in the first round of the 2011 state tournament the last time these teams met. That meeting was the first state tournament game for the Jaguars under head coach L’Dreco Thomas. Including that lost Thomas has posted a 10-4 record in the state tournament which includes back-to-back semifinal losses the previous two seasons.
Enter the 2017 semifinals where the two teams will meet again in an official game (the teams have played against each other in summer ball the last couple of summers) since the 2011 state tournament.
Miller Grove (21-8) is under the direction of first-year head coach Rasual Chester after 7-time state champ head coach Sharman White left for an assistant position at Georgia State University. The Wolverines have continued to pick up momentum after a slow start this season with a heavy national schedule in place. Five of the Wolverines eight losses were to non-Georgia teams while the in-state losses were to McEachern (7A semifinalist), Wheeler (7A quarterfinalist) and region foe Columbia (5A Sweet 16).
Senior Nequante Hardy leads Miller Grove in scoring at just under 20 points per game while junior Kevin Paige leads the team in rebound with 7.7 per game.
Chester has weathered the storm of following in the shoes of White by noting his faith and belief in his team and the foundation laid by White. The task is tall as Miller Grove is searching for title number eight and are in the semifinals for the ninth time in ten seasons.
Cedar Shoals (26-4) is looking to get over the hump that is the semifinals. In their previous two semifinals games the Jaguars have loss by a combined three points.
Phlandrous Fleming (Charleston Southern) is the unsung leader and go-to-guy for the Jaguars. Fleming leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 20.1 and 7.2 respectively.
“He’s the most unselfish player I’ve every seen,” Thomas said earlier this season. “He does it all, there’s nothing he can’t do.”
Stavion Stevenson and Snipe Hall provide much of the help for the Jaguars. Stevenson averages 10.2 points and 5.8 rebounds while manning the post and stepping out for the soft lefty jumper when needed. Snipe Hall is averaging 11.4 points and 4.1 rebounds while providing athleticism, timely shooting and another person the defense must account for.
A.J Jones, Damarrea Lowe and Jai’Vanni McDavid have been solid for the Jaguars in their respective roles this season. Lowe began the season coming off the bench but entered the starting line up in late December. Lowe is the floor general at the point guard spot and is dropping off 4.7 dimes per game. Jones continues to be a threat from long distance shooting the three-ball at a 41 percent clip . McDavid (6.8pts 3.3reb 2.2stl) started earlier in the season but now comes of the bench does whatever is asked without question.
Two programs, Cedar Shoals older than Miller Grove, each are looking to make history, the Jaguars are back where they’ve been before but can they come through? Miller Grove is still a game away from getting back to where they expect to be regardless of who is the bench boss.
Both are familiar with the gym and the rims at Columbus State University, they tip at 4pm today.
Today’s Georgia class 5A semifinals opener at Columbus State University features the teacher vs pupil when Southwest Dekalb faces Flowery Branch. Southwest Dekalb head coach Kathleen Richey-Walton coached Flowery Branch head coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez for two years on the travel ball circuit while Newton-Gonzalez played at Flowery Branch. Newton-Gonzalez went on to play at South Carolina and was the head coach at Lexington (SC) before coming home to coach her alma mater last season.
“I enjoyed coaching her,” Richey-Walton said. “She was a good hard-nosed player, she had a good career in college and is doing a good job as a coach. I’m sure I’ll learn something from her.”
Big words coming from Richey-Walton who was honored more for her lacrosse skills in her native Ohio than basketball, however her basketball coaching is what comes to mind first in Georgia. Richey-Walton is also the head coach of the Southwest Deklab Lady Panthers’ lacrosse team.
Southwest Dekalb (26-4) has won five state championships and are in the semifinals for the eighth time in ten years under Richey-Walton. Four-year starter Jada Walton (Texas A&M) is the leader for the Lady Panthers. Walton, a southpaw, is averaging 13.4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals this season. Ogheneruona Uwusiaba (Central Florida)-Nigerian descent, is her third year of playing organized basketball and is the anchor in the post. Uwusiaba is averaging 11.5 points and leads the team in rebounding at 8.4 per game. Chantz Cherry (Stoney Brook) engineers the offense with her unselfish play, good defense and vision. “She’s a point guard that just does not turn the ball over,” Richey-Walton noted about Cherry.
“The team is focused, they have not been too high or too low,” Richey-Walton said. “We want to execute and be efficient on offense and on defense, we slipped a little bit against Eagles Landings so were working on being tighter and dealing with (Flowery Branch) attack and uptempo play.”
Newton-Gonzalez has Flowery Branch (24-6) in the semifinals for the first time in school history. The Lady Falcons’ uptempo offense is powered scoring-wise by Taniyah Worth, Julianne Sutton and Lexie Sengkhammee. Worth has improved on her 15.2 point per game average in the state tournament to 17.2 points per game. Sutton (North Georgia) puts in 10.1 point per game and cleans the glass fora team-tying high of 7.8 per game. Sengkhammee is the engineer of the offense and shots the three-ball at at 39 percent clip.
The defense is where Flowery Branch hangs its hat. Through three state tournament games the Lady Falcons pressure defense is allowing an average of 38 points per game in victories over North Springs, Statesboro and Carrollton.
“We take pride in our pressure defense and we’ve done a good job throughout the season,” Newton-Gonzales said. “We went out and scheduled tougher teams this season and that has helped us down the stretch. Southwest Dekalb is good and this team is ready for the challenge.”
Flowery Branch’s schedule included non-Georgia teams Bradley Central (TN), Spring Garden (AL) and McMinn Central (TN) in addition to state foes Winder-Barrow (2-1 in three meetings), West Hall and region foe Buford (0-3 in three meetings).
Senghammee set the single season record for three-pointers made and hit six three-pointers in three games this season. Queen Scott is described by Newton-Gonzalez as the ultimate role player, defensive specialist and routinely guards the opposing teams best player. Caroline Wysocki, Ashley Woodroffe and Janoah Williams also play key roles for the Lady Falcons.
“Were excited about were the program is going,” Newton-Gonzales said.
The other semifinal game pits top-ranked Griffin against second-ranked Buford. Griffin enters the contest with a 28-1 mark, the lone loss coming to Columbia which snapped a 20-game winning streak. Griffin is in the semifinals for the first time since 1998 and third time in school history.
The Lady Bears are led by seniors Andeija Puckett (Cincinnati) and TyLeslie Happy Johnson. Puckett is the region 3-5A Player Of The Year and is averaging a double-double with 17.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Johnson is puts in 7.7 points and grabs 6.1 rebounds per game. Sophomore Daisya Reid controls the offense while scoring 9.7 points per game to go witha 1-to-1 assist to turnover ratio.
Buford is highlighted by the heavily recruited Tory Ozment. Ozment leads the Lady Wolves in scoring at 13.4 point per game and shoots 43 percent from downtown. Audrey averages 10 points per game and snatches almost three boards a game. Marissa Bruce is an experienced player that chips in 9.4 points per game, 3.1 rebounds and brings plenty of energy on both ends of the floor. Jessica Nelson comes off the bench however leads the Lady Wolves in rebounding at 5.4 per game.
The Lady Wolves only in-state loss were to class 1A Private’s St. Francis and Wesleyan. Buford is in pursuit of it’s fifth state championship.
The table is set and the plot will begin to unfold as the it boils down to the newcomers against the established. All four squads can either add to their history or make history themselves. No question who advances to the finals next week at the University of Georgia it will be earned and not given.
Lithonia led host Cedar Shoals 17-3 with 1:38 remaining in the first quarter and seemed poised to pull off another road upset in the state tournament. Lithonia, the lone four-seed remaining in class 5A, defeated one-seed Villa Rica and three-seed Riverdale in “upsets” in the first two rounds of the state tournament .
The Bulldogs force Cedar Shoals to struggle from the field, commit multiple turnovers and looked flat on defense for most of the opening frame. The capacity crowd was ready to get behind the Jaguars however Lithonia was doing everything to prevent it.
Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas is known for not calling a timeout when things get shaky and he held back for as long as he could but after a Robert Hatchett bucket to give Lithonia a 12-1 lead, Thomas broke and called the timeout with 3:41 left in the first quarter.
Thomas’ timeout did not seem to slow things as Lithonia outscored Cedar Shoals 7-2 after the time out and then began to slow the game down. That’s when things changed for the Jaguars, when the Bulldogs went away from what put them up 14 points on the road in had a hostile environment. Snipe Hall hit a three-pointer for Cedar Shoals’ first field goal with 1:22 left in the quarter which was followed up by a thundering one-handed dunk by senior Phlandrous Fleming (Charleston Southern) and the run began.
Fleming’s dunk not only woke up the crowd but it was that single play that woke up the second-ranked Jaguars. Stavion Stevenson gave the Jaguars their first lead, 18-17, on a hoop assisted by Fleming. Fleming capped the game-changing 17-0 run with an alley-oop dunk with just over six minutes remaining in the second quarter to give Cedar Shoals a 20-17 lead.
Lithonia per its custom all season under head coach Wallace Corker did not go away. Hatchett ended the run with a bucket and the teams traded the lead multiple times the remainder of the half until Tyquon Mitchell scored to beat the horn giving Cedar Shoals a 25-24 halftime lead, they never trailed again.
Lithonia made one last surge in the fourth quarter by using a 12-3 run to chop a 13-point Jaguar lead to four with just over two minutes remaining. Cedar Shoals answered the bell when Fleming hit Stevenson for to stop the run and slammed it shut at the free throw line when Fleming went 5-of-6 in the final 1:30 to salt it away.
Phlandrous Fleming finished with a game-high 26 points, Stavion Stevenson put in 14 while Snipe Hall finished with 7.
Sydarius Stinson led Lithonia (13-17) with 15 points. Cortez Roberson and Robert Hatchett III finished with nine each.
Cedar Shoals (26-4) will face Miller Grove (21-8) in the semifinals at Columbus State University on Saturday at 4pm. Miller Grove defeated Riverwood 59-43 to advance.
Cedar Shoals is making its third straight appearance in the semifinals and has never advanced to the finals. Miller Grove is in the semifinals for the ninth time in the past ten seasons and has won seven state championships.
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