Total Sports Coverage is pleased to announce it will webcast its first-ever high school state championship game of any kind in any state. The independent network will provide a LIVE audio stream only webcast of the Georgia GHSA Class 7A Boys basketball state championship game between the McEachern Indians and Meadowcreek Mustangs.
Meadowcreek (26-5) is the defending 7A state champion while McEachern (31-0) is ranked as the No.1 team in the nation in the Max Preps Xcellent 25 and in the top 5 of other respected national polls.
Pregame coverage begins at 6:30pm EST with tip-off approxiamatley scheduled for 7:00pm EST from the Macon Coliseum in Macon, GA. The announcing team of Joel Hillsman and Lewis Preston will call the play-by-play action.
Hillsman is in his 10th season broadcasting high school athletics in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama and has announced for various networks including being the lead play-by-play announcer for SUVTV’s extensive coverage of grassroots and high school basketball and Total Sports Coverage. Hillsman, a member and co-host of the Georgia Hoop Circle, has been apart of the announcing team for the basketball championships in Georgia the previous two years however this will mark the first time he will be the play-by-play announcer for a Georgia basketball championship game in his career.
Preston, also a member of the Georgia Hoop Circle, is a former NCAA head coach at Kennesaw State and also served as an assistant coach at Coastal Carolina, Notre Dame, Florida and Penn State during his career. While at Florida, Preston was apart of the 2006-2007 National Championship team coaching staff under former head coach and current Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. Preston is in his second season of announcing high school basketball’s.
The Georgia Class 5A state runner-up Cedar Shoals Jaguars are gearing up for next season as the summer schedule begins. The Jaguars competed in a team camp at North Oconee high school over the weekend and will compete in the Miller Grove Shot Clock league later this month as a play date participate against Mays, Stephenson, defending 6A champion Langston Hughes, Heritage-Conyers, Rockdale, Meadowcreek, Tucker and Forest Park beginning June 12th.
Cedar Shoals must replace seven rotation seniors from last seasons team including 5A player of the year and leading scorer Phlandrous Fleming (Charleston Southern). That core unit led the Jaguars to three consecutive trips to the semifinals the past three seasons including the runner-up finish last season.
Rising seniors Jai’vanni McDavid, Darien Appling and Keivasiay Ball along with sophomore Jaden Williams have been tasked with engineering the sustaining of the programs recent success under head coach L’Dreco Thomas. The group has help as the Jaguars have added a pair of sophomore transfers in Quincy Canty and Jalen Jackson.
Quincy Canty, a 6’5 forward who was an All-Region 8-1A Private selection last season, comes over from neighboring private school Athens Christian. Canty led the Eagles in scoring while averaging a double-double and guided the Eagles to a quarterfinal finish last season in 1A Private. Canty was not with the team this past weekend as he was participating in the Crossroads Elite Camp in Indianapolis, Indiana, a camp Phlandrous Fleming attended as a sophomore as well. Carter plays travel ball with the EYBL Georgia Stars.
Jalen Jackson, a 6’2 guard, comes over from Lincoln County. Jackson averaged 7 points and 7 rebounds as a freshman last season for the Red Devils. Jackson will also play football for the Jaguars.
The 2nd Annual L’Dreco Thomas Youth Basketball Camp will be held June 26th-29th at Cedar Shoals High School. Registration dates are June 8th (3pm-5pm) and June 15th (4pm-6pm) in front of Turner-Neathery Gymnasium. Walk-up registration will be held on June 26th beginning at 12pm. Last years camp featured over 75 campers attending the four-day camp which features shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding, defensive and skill development drills with current Jaguar varsity players. Special guest speakers included current University of Georgia basketball players along with other notable guest from around the basketball and Athens community. For more information and registration contact Coach Thomas at 706-546-5375 or via email email@example.com.
The first annual Craig Sager Memorial Classic will be held November 18, 20 and 21 at Dacula High School. The tournament is in honor of the late sports broadcaster Craig Sager, who passed away in December of 2016 after battling acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Thursday morning the tournament field was announced by event co-founder and head Dacula boys basketball coach Dr. Russ Triaga.
Triaga along with Sager’s son Craig Sager II are the founders of the tournament.
Tournament seeding will be conducted by an independent panel of Coaches, Media and Player Evaluators. There are three non-active coaches on the panel with a combined 12 state championships who still reside in Georgia and follow Georgia high school basketball.
A total of 32 teams will participate, 16 each of boys and girls. Host Dacula along with Buford, Lakeside-Dekalb, Therrell and Walnut Grove will each have both boys and girls teams in the tournament field. 48 games will be played in total.
Below are the girls teams in the field.
Archer (GA 7A semifinalist), Walnut Grove, Grayson, Douglass-Atlanta, Dacula, North Gwinnett, Duluth, Columbia, Holy Innocents (GA 1A Private Runner Up), Valdosta, Hebron, Shiloh, Buford (GA 5A Champion), Lakeside-Dekalb, Therrell and West Forsyth
The boys field will feature non-Georgia teams from Alabama, Florida and New York. Below are the boys teams.
Dacula, Harrison, Harris County, John’s Creek, South Gwinnett, Johnson-Savannah, Osbourne, Northview, Owego Free Academy (NY), Walnut Grove, Hialeah (FL), Therrell, Lakeside-Dekalb, Buford (GA 5A Champion), Discovery and Carver-Montgomery (AL).
Dacula will utilize both gyms on their campus for the tournament with boys and girls games being played at the same time. Each day games will begin in both gyms at 10 am with the final games beginning each night at 8:30 pm. Triaga said talks were “in progress” for live broadcasting/streaming of the event.
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.
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.
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.
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