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.
Meadowcreek improved to 5-0 with a 42-28 victory over Lakeside-Dekalb (1-4). Chauncey Williams rushed for over 300 yards and five touchdowns for the Mustangs. The victory assures the Mustangs their first non-losing season since 1997. Meadowcreek is now 1-0 in region play and will face Berkmar (0-5) next week and with a victory would clinch the first winning season in school history since 1990 (the schools fifth year of football). Through five games Williams has amassed over 1200 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns.
Douglas County (5-0) defeated region and family feud foe Langston Hughes (3-2) 30-27 in a back and forth affair featuring a pair of solid running backs showcasing their talents. Douglas County jumped out to a 10-0 lead after a pick six touchdown by Xavier Hopson and a field goal. Langston Hughes then took a 14-10 lead after a Caleb Vaughn to Nae’Saan Dickerson touchdown pass and a Christian Roylaston touchdown run in the second quarter which held until halftime. After another Royalston touchdown run put Langston Hughes up 20-10, Uriah West rushed for a pair of touchdowns for a 23-20 Tigers lead. Royalston and the Panthers was not done as Royalston ripped off a 70-yard touchdown to for a 27-23 lead. Douglas County would get the last word when Marquise Collins connected with Dariyan Wiley for a 75-yard touchdown pass with less than two minutes remaining for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning touchdown. The win marked the first 5-0 start for Douglas County since 2002.
One-Sided Clash In Classic City!
Clarke Central (4-1) jumped on Cedar Shoals (3-1) early and often in a 48-7 rout of their crosstown rivals in the region opener for both. The Gladiators scored three defensive touchdowns (pick six, scoop and score, and a fumble recovery in the end zone). Jack Mangel connected with Jacob Dula on a touchdown pass for a 7-0 Clarke Central lead, Mangel passed for two touchdowns in the game. Cedar Shoals responded with a drive that stalled deep in Gladiator territory and missed a field goal, the contest was never close again. Clarke Central came one point shy of tying the all-time series record for points scored by one team (49) while posting all 48 points in the first half. The fourth quarter was played with a running clock. Jonathan Sewell and O’Brien Bryant rushed for touchdowns for Clarke Central.
Other Games/Scores Of Interest
Ira Henderson returned his second kickoff return for a touchdown this season as Stephenson (3-2) defeated Mundy’s Mill (0-5) 38-14. Javier Morton returned an interception for a touchdown for Stephenson.
Taurean Taylor rushed for three touchdowns while Travon Ford hooked up with Josh Vann on a pair of touchdown passes as Tucker (4-1) shutout ML King (2-3) 44-0. David Davis rushed for a touchdown and Jalen Jefferson recorded a safety for the Tigers.
Tift (6-0) defeated Coffee (3-1) 33-31 on a game-winning field goal by Fernando Ramirez with five seconds remaining. Coffee overcame an early 21-0 hole to take a 31-30 lead with a Wade Sumner to Dalrone Donaldson touchdown pass with just over four minutes remaining. Tift quarterback Griffin Collier finished with over 300 yards passing, four touchdowns, two of them to standout wide receiver Rashod Bateman. Dalrone Donaldson caught two touchdowns for Coffee. Tift improved to 6-0, it’s best start since 1993.
Carterville (5-0) won it’s 35th consecutive game with a 41-7 victory over Cedartown. Trevor Lawrence passed for three touchdowns while Rico Frye rushed for and caught a touchdown for Cartersville. Cartersville had held its last three opponents (Calhoun, Westlake and Cedartown) to 18 total points.
Tri-Cities (1-3) won its first game of the season to snap a 13-game losing streak with a 41-6 win over Creekside (0-5). Tarez Huddleston passed for four touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Creekside has only scored 22 total points this season.
McEachern (3-2) trailed 13-9 at halftime to Camden County (2-3) before scoring 29 unanswered points in the second half to win 38-13. Jaron Hall returned a punt for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass for the Indians. Malik Evans rushed for two touchdowns and Ali Scott had a rushing touchdown for McEachern. Logan Berryhill caught a touchdown for Camden County.
Colquitt County (5-1) used four field goals from Ryan Fitzgerald to defeat Valdosta (2-4) 27-0. Ty Leggett scored the only offensive touchdown of the game with a four-yard run late in the second quarter.
Grayson (4-0) 74-0 over International School of Broward (FL) (1-2). DJ Irons passed for four touchdowns while J’Kori Jones passed for three touchdowns for the Rams. Grayson is now 3-0 this season in out-of-state games and will play their final non-Georgia opponent this Friday when they host Ramsay (AL) (4-1). Ramsay has won three straight games and is currently ranked in the Alabama Class 6A Top 5.
Lovejoy (3-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 41-33 victory over Drew (1-4). Zion Custis rushed for three touchdowns for the Wildcats.
Cedar Grove (5-0) won their 15th straight game by defeating the last team to beat them, Westminster (1-4) 41-10. The 15-game winning streak is a new school record.
Rome (4-0) defeated Paulding County (1-4) 62-0. Rome will host Carrollton (4-0) in a class 5A top 10 matchup this week. Carrollton defeated Woodland-Cartersville (2-3) 41-6.
East Coweta (4-1) defeated Arabia Mountain (3-2) 48-14; East Coweta has won four in a row since their season opening loss to Lovejoy. Arabia Mountain has dropped two in a row since a 3-0 start.
Winder-Barrow (5-0) defeated North Oconee (1-4) 17-14
North Gwinnett (4-1) defeated Mountain View (4-1) 27-14
Westlake (2-3) defeated Lithonia (1-4) 45-12
Hapeville Charter (5-0) defeated South Atlanta (2-4) 42-7
Georgia Week 3 of high school football was played over the weekend with only a handful of games cancelled or postponed due the approaching Hurricane Irma. Most of those games were in the southeastern coastal portions of Georgia after mandatory evacuations were issued. Here is a look at some the games of interest from Week 3 in Georgia
Cartersville’s (4-0) Trevor Lawrence passed for over 280 yards and 3 touchdowns while Rico Frye rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass as class 4A Cartersville defeated 7A Westlake (1-2) 38-5. EJ Turner caught a pair of touchdown passes for the Purple Hurricanes who won their 34th consecutive game.
Mays (2-1) won its second consecutive game since a season opening loss to Stockbridge with a 32-20 region 5-6A victory over Langston Hughes (2-1). Jaquez Milam connected with Christian Royalston on a 42-yard pass to give Langston Hughes an early 7-0 lead. Later Mays pulled to within 7-6 on a touchdown run by Tyree Nelson. Mays took a 12-7 into halftime after quarterback Jaquez Evans hooked up with Amir Abdur Rahman on a 56-yard touchdown pass. In the third quarter the team quickly exchanged touchdowns as Langston Hughes’ TJ Portress briefly gave the Panthers an 14-12 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing kickoff Ihbin Tophia returned it 80 yards for a touchdown for an 18-14 lead. The Raiders expanded the lead to 25-14 on Nelson’s second touchdown run of the game. Antoino Grier block a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown and 32-14 Mays lead in the fourth quarter. Langston Hughes completed the scoring with a Tyrea Swanson 10-yard touchdown run for the final 32-20 margin.
Meadowcreek (3-0) improved to 3-0 for the first time in the programs 32-year history with a 29-27 win over Forsyth Central (0-3). Meadowcreek, located in Norcross, Ga in Gwinnett County, is 73% Hispanic. The Mustangs have one of the largest offensive lines in Georgia averaging around 320 pounds which paved the way for two rushing touchdowns by Chauncey Williams (180-plus yards rushing). Jeremiah Caldwell had a receiving touchdown while Alonzo Howard returned an interception for a touchdown. Meadowcreek led 26-6 at one point before Forsyth Central rallied. The Bulldogs closed to within 26-20 on a late third quarter touchdown run by Devron Orasn. Meadowcreek added its cushion early in the fourth quarter on a field goal by Christopher Linares to put the Mustangs up 29-20. Forsyth Central added another Orasn touchdown to make it 29-27 however on their next possession were unable to convert a fourth down which sealed the victory for Meadowcreek.
Cedar Shoals (3-0) defeated North Oconee (1-2) in dramatic fashion 13-6. Ken Johnson rushed for two touchdown but it was his 5-yard touchdown with 38 seconds remaining in the game that propelled the Jaguars to the victory. Cedar Shoals has won the last two meeting between the two schools.
Stephenson (1-2) defeated Southwest Dekalb (2-2) 31-18 in a sloppy game featured five fumbles between the two teams . Ira Henderson return the second half kickoff 86 yards fro a touchdown to jump start Stephenson after trailing 6-0 at the half. Stephenson’s Deshon Stoudemire caught a pair of touchdowns, one from Ga’von Wray another from Daren Parker. Justin Tomlin passed for three touchdowns for Southwest Dekalb.
Stockbridge (3-0) for the second consecutive week allowed their opponent to score on their opening possession and for the second consecutive week after that they did not allow their opponents to score again. Dutchtown (2-1) jumped out a 7-0 lead after Shanaan McKoy’s short touchdown run capped the Bulldogs opening drive. Stockbridge pulled to within 7-6 after a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown by Demaje Carter. Marquez Ezzard added a touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the final 13-7 margin. Dutchtown’s final drive ended with an interception to cap another stingy night of Stockbridge defense which has allowed only 14 points in three games this season. It was Stockbridge’s eight consecutive victory over county and region foe Dutchdown. Lovejoy (41.5), Dutchtown (41) and Mays (36.1) are all averaging 36-plus points in games this season when not including their game against Stockbridge in which all were held to single digits (Mays was shutout).
Grayson (3-0) defeated John Curtis (LA) (1-1) 22-9 on the strength of a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. Quarterback DJ Irons rushed for a touchdown then hooked up with Jalen Rivers an 21-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as the Rams overcame an early 9-3 deficit for the win. Grayson collected its second victory over an out-of-state opponent this season and have International School of Broward (FL) and Ramsay (AL) remaining on the schedule. Grayson has won 17 consecutive games, including two over Alabama power Hoover, since losing to IMG Academy (FL) in their 2016 season opener.
Colquitt County (4-0) shutout Roswell (1-2) 28-0 to win its third consecutive game. Ty Leggett rushed for two touchdowns in the second half while Nigel Hillery rushed for a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
Dacula (1-2) picked up its first win of the season by snapping Arabia Mountain’s three-game win streak with a 9-0 shutout victory. Jalen Perry rushed for the lone touchdown of the game and Zachary Gerts connected on field goal for Dacula. Arabia Mountain (3-1) had a short touchdown run called back for holding in the first half and missed a field goal in the second half.
North Gwinnett (3-1) won their third straight game defeating Norcross (2-2) 35-14. North Gwinnett’s Tyler Goodson rushed for over 240 yards and three touchdowns. Jimmy Urzua, who took over as quarterback for injured starter Cade Fortin in the first quarter of the Milton game, has led the Bulldogs to all three victories. Urzua and Devin Crosby each rushed for touchdowns as North Gwinnett amassed over 330 yards rushing as a team.
New Manchester (2-1) shutout Creekside 23-0. AJ Taylor rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns while Eddie Ellis caught a touchdown for New Manchester. Creekside (0-3) has been been shutout in all three games being outscored 89-0.
Other Scores/Notes of Interest:
Woodstock (2-1) became the fourth Georgia team to score 70-plus points this season in their 77-49 shootout victory over Kennesaw Mountain (2-1). Rockdale County (75 vs Berkmar), Habersham Central (72 vs East Hall) and Mountain View (71 vs Osborne) are the others.
Jenkins (3-0) defeated Liberty County (1-2) 43-41; Jenkins quarterback Javonte Middleton passed for three touchdowns.
Class 7A Tift (4-0) handed former region foe and defending 6A state champion Valdosta (1-3) its second straight loss with a 20-10 victory
Abbeville (SC) defeated Lincoln County (1-2) 28-24
Cedar Grove (3-0) shutout Columbia (1-2) 33-0
Peachtree Ridge (0-3) struggles to begin the season continued after losing 47-28 to Newton (3-0).
McEachern (1-2) defeated Jonesboro (2-1) 49-10
Douglas County (3-0) won it’s region opener on the road shutting out Northgate (2-1) 21-0
Hapeville Charter (3-1) shutout Wesleyan (3-1) 35-0
Games of interest postponed/cancelled due to Hurricane Irma:
Camden County at Glynn Academy
Grady at Ware County
Shiloh at Lowndes; The concern with this game was Shiloh having to travel back Gwinnett County after the game in heavy traffic due to Hurricane Irma evacuations from Florida.
Georgia’s four-time defending champion McEachern continues to work on its schedule for the upcoming 2017-18 high school basketball season. The Lady Indians again will play a national schedule with games in Texas, New York, Alabama and Washington D.C.
“We want to play tough competition,” Lady Indian head coach Phyllis Arthur responded when asked about the heavy schedule.
McEachern (26-6; 6-5 OOS last season) has lined up games with Stephenson and Greater Atlanta Christian along with an event at Parkview. The Lady Indians defeated Greater Atlanta Christian 86-55 in one of only six regular season home games and lone non-region home game last season.
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.
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 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.
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.
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