12:20 PM (Tuesday) update:
Morgan County hands Laney its first loss in a non region masterpiece
Two of Georgia's top basketball teams met Saturday in Madison and the Morgan County Bulldogs topped the Laney Wildcats 65-63 in the fifth meeting in the last two seasons between the state's #1 and #3 3A teams.
Devorius Brown (27), Jailyn Ingram (14) and Alec Woodard (13) led the way for the Bulldogs. Laney's Zep Jasper and Christian Keeling each scored 21 points to lead the Wildcats.
This update is the second to my "3A Monday" post (link above). So far, the post features what will soon be the three top teams in AugBball's Power Poll: Morgan County, Laney, and Westside (update below). These teams are also among the top ten 3A teams in the entire state as Westside clocked in at #9 in the most recent rankings by GHSA expert Sandy Spiel.
***Here are my game reports from past Laney-Morgan County matchups. I would submit this rivalry as Georgia's most exciting during this decade:
12/1/14 - Laney beats Morgan County at home
3/2/15 - Morgan County tops Laney in state semis
12/4/15 - Laney's comeback kids do it again; overcome 43-23 deficit to avenge playoff loss
8:00 PM (Monday) update:
Westside continues its scorching run with 51-43 win over Josey
Christian Robinson and Trez Hawes combined to score 7 points in 72 seconds and to turn a 27-24 Josey lead into a 31-27 Westside advantage with 1:31 left in the third quarter in Friday's region meeting between the two teams within striking distance of league leader Laney.
Soon after that spurt, Dekwan Lewis, who led all scorers with 16 points, finished a pair of drives. And Elijah Brown scored to give Westside a 43-36 advantage with 4:43 remaining in the game.
Lewis (16), Robinson (12), and Brown (10) led the way for the Patriots. Josey's Donald Jordan scored 15 points in defeat.
I applaud Sandy Spiel, the GHSA expert, for placing Westside on his list of the state's top ten 3A teams. The Patriots, who have not yet played poorly this season, stopped Josey's hot streak and set up a coming battle between the region's top team, Laney.
If current trends persist, the January 22-23 weekend will settle many disputes about which is the best team in region 3, and the city itself. Westside has played at an elite level all season. So has Laney, which is undefeated in region play, not to mention within Augusta's city limits. And as I tried to explain in my "5A Sunday" updates, no team is currently taking names like Richmond...
Special note: My next sentences are conditional on "current trends persisting," meaning Laney, Westside, and Richmond continue to coast through league play. I usually try not to look too far ahead, and I believe there are teams that can beat these league leaders before January 22 and 23. But trends are trends.
With a trio of such great teams, there should be no empty seats or spaces along the wall Friday, January 22, when Westside visits Laney (possibly) with the 3A region's top spot on the line. Or Saturday, January 23, when Westside hosts Richmond (possibly) for bragging rights between two elite teams, and even the area's two main regions.
But back to reality. Westside hosts Washington County Tuesday. My guess is the Patriots will be ready.