The level of play in region 3A and the familiarity I have with its teams, as well as that with the 5A teams, has caused me recently to miss some of the games involving Harlem, Aquinas, Augusta Christian, Midland Valley, Burke County, and Alleluia. But I set aside an eight day period, beginning last Friday, to get reacquainted with as many of these teams as possible. And I am planning ways to stay connected with all the teams I follow as they finish the regular season and move towards the post season.
I am very glad I chose to attend Glenn Hills' visit to non region rival Aquinas Saturday. Coach Travis Mcrae has done a masterful job keeping his Spartans near the .500 level in the most difficult region any of us know. Glenn Hills has gotten into position to make a run at a state playoff birth under the most difficult circumstances: the Spartans exited the first week of January with a 1-3 region record and had recently lost its senior team leader, Zi Cook, to injury. Cook will likely return for the post season, but probably not before what Mcrae calls the coming week's "gauntlet" of difficult region games versus Butler (Tuesday at Glenn Hills), Josey (Friday at Glenn Hills), and Washington County (Saturday in Sandersville) ends.
That slate is enough to discourage (or scare!) lesser competitors. But coach Mcrae's group has proven itself to be uniquely prepared to handle such daunting challenges. Consider as an example its January 9th win defeat of Washington County. Senior Aaron "Toot" Williamson embodies the team's competitive spirit. Toot always has played much bigger than the ruler measuring his official height reads. In Saturday's game he caused havoc on the defensive end, grabbing steals, rebounds, and loose balls that helped the Spartans cobble together enough easy baskets to force overtime against Aquinas. When Williamson wasn't creating something from nothing, his younger teammates were knocking down timely three pointers.
Although they came up a bit short Saturday, Glenn Hills has shown the ability to win with or without its full roster. See how they do it below. And don't be surprised if the Spartans record some impressive wins before and after Cook's return.
Perhaps with the help of some much deserved luck, Glenn Hills will earn one of region 3A's four state tournament bids, a truly noteworthy accomplishment. I would not enjoy being the state tournament team tasked with facing in the first round any 3A team, including coach Mcrae's Spartans.