Wednesday, March 1, 2017

AugBball area basketball review - 3/1/17

I only occasionally update this blog. The @AugBball Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram timelines feature an exhaustive, running account - including highlights, updates, and stories - about  almost everything related to this area's hoops scene. So after catching up with the current state of affairs as described in this post, make sure you are following @AugBball on those social media pages so you won't miss the best stuff!



Augusta University followed its Peach Belt Conference regular season championship run with an explosive outing Saturday against Montevallo in the opening round of the conference tournament, topping the Falcons 107-99 at home to advance to this Saturday’s semifinal round against Columbus State at Lander University. Keshun Sherrill once again made an incredible 9 of 13 field goal attempts, including 4 of 6 from three point land, on his way to a game high 29 points. Deane Williams added 19 points, and Aaron Byrd tossed in a career high 18. The Jaguars sport an overall 23-6 record and have locked up a spot in the coming NCAA Division II tournament. But a conference tournament championship is the immediate goal for coach Dip Metress’s squad.

Laney graduate Christian Keeling of Charleston Southern was denied the Big South’s Freshman of the Year award this week despite having won the freshman of the week award 7 times this season after averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds and being the only rookie in the nation to lead his team in those two categories. But Keeling has the right thing on his mind, and that is not off the court awards:

“You forgot the win. That’s the most important stat I wanted,” Keeling said after CSU’s 79-74 win over Longwood Tuesday when reporters asked him about his 29 point, 11 rebound explosion in the first round of the conference tournament. Keeling’s Bucs face the conference’s top seed, Winthrop, Thursday in the next round.


Elsewhere in college hoops, Matt Miller, who starred on Augusta’s home school high school team, finished his four year run at USMMA as the school’s eighth all time leading scorer with over 1,400 points. He was named to the Skyline Conference’s second team all conference unit after averaging 19.5 points, which was third in the league, and leading the league in free throw percentage.



Finally Ahmed Hill, a sophomore at Virginia Tech and a graduate of Aquinas, is averaging 12 points per game for the Hokies, who have won 5 of their last 6 games in the ACC, the nation’s most competitive conference.

Three area high school girls teams are scorching their ways through the state playoffs. North Augusta, Laney, and Cross Creek have coasted through the post season so far.



North Augusta will face Wilson in Columbia Saturday in the South Carolina class AAAA state championship game after topping Greenville 67-53, in Greenville, in the semifinal game last Saturday. Amari Young scored 26 points and Kiara Jackson added 18 in that win. The Lady Yellow Jackets are seeking not only a state title, but a perfect season as well as they enter Saturday’s game with a 27-0 record that includes a win over Laney and two over Cross Creek.

Laney has looked every bit as dominant in its march to Saturday’s class AA final four matchup with Model. The Lady Wildcats topped Heard County 85-30 Tuesday on the road as De’sha Benjamin led the way with 28 points. The Wildcats’ lone loss this season came to North Augusta on the second day of the season when Benjamin didn’t play. No team has come within 10 points of the Wildcats since her return.



Cross Creek blitzed Henry County 76-52 Tuesday at home in the quarterfinal round of the class AAAA playoffs. Alana Davis, who has signed with Memphis, scored 17 points; KymMya Thomas added 15; and Kianni Westbrook 14 in the win. The Lady Razorbacks face Carver Saturday in the semifinals. The game will be played at Augusta University at 6:00 P.M.



Five area boys teams are competing in the final rounds of their respective state playoff brackets. Laney hosts Dublin Wednesday in the elite 8 round of the class AA playoffs. The Wildcats topped Hapeville Charter last Thursday 72-59 at home in the sweet sixteen round. Fellow class AA squad Josey travels to Early County after picking up a win at Banks County last week.



Aquinas will face Saint Francis at home Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the class A private school bracket after topping Stratford 40-34 last week. Tre Gomillion led the way with 13 points and Trent Bowdre dropped 3 third quarter three pointers to propel the Fighting Irish to victory in that game.



After winning on the road in their first two playoff games, class AAAA’s Thomson will travel to undefeated Upson-Lee to try to keep its playoff streak alive. And Westminster will face Holy Spirit Friday in the semifinal round of the GISA class AAA playoffs.

AugBball area basketball review - 2/22/17

I only occasionally update this blog. The @AugBball Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram timelines feature an exhaustive, running account - including highlights, updates, and stories - about  almost everything related to this area's hoops scene. So after catching up with the current state of affairs as described in this post, make sure you are following @AugBball on those social media pages so you won't miss the best stuff!

This week's most exciting matchup has to be Wednesday's rivalry game in South Carolina when USC Aiken hosts long time rival Augusta University in a double header with all kinds of implications for the post season.

Augusta's men lead Aiken's by a single game at the top of the Peach Belt Conference standings. Ever since the first day of 2017, the two rivals have been either tied or separated by one game in the standings. Depending on the results of this game and others throughout the conference Wednesday, both teams can finish as high as first or as low as third in the final standings. Only the top two teams get a chance to play their first round PBC tournament game Saturday at home.

Augusta is fresh off an 82-66 win Saturday in the final home game of the regular season. Senior two time All American Keshun Sherrill scored 29 points to lead all scorers right after he was honored prior to the game. 2,300 fans packed Christenberry Fieldhouse to send off Augusta's second all time leading scorer.

The women's game is even more urgent as the winner will claim the fourth spot in the Peach Belt Conference East division. The loser's season will end.


Moving on to the topic of the high school state playoffs while staying with the South Carolina side of the area, Aiken High suffered a heart breaking loss Tuesday on the road at Eastside in the third round of the playoffs. Facing a 12 point deficit with 90 seconds remaining, Kevin Williamson (12 points) and Jordan Lytes (10) led a furious comeback. And Nazae Baltimore had a chance to send the game into overtime with a layup with one second remaining but his shot was blocked as the buzzer sounded and the Hornets' story book season ended with a 55-53 loss. Before Tuesday Aiken hadn't lost since December 13. The Hornets posted a 23-5 record one season after winning only 6 games.

Speaking of story book seasons, North Augusta's Lady Yellow Jackets extended their season long undefeated streak to 27 Monday with a 63-33 third round state playoff win over Richland Northeast. Mya Burns scored 25 points and Amari Young scored 18 to lead the way. The Jackets play Greenville Friday in the semifinal round of the state playoffs.

Now let's move on to Georgia, where the sweet sixteen round of the state playoffs is set to begin. A handful of girls teams continue to shine as #1 seeds Cross Creek and Grovetown host games Wednesday and Laney does Thursday.

Cross Creek sports a 24-5 record after topping Americus-Sumter 59-51 in Friday's first round. Grovetown advanced with a 59-48 win over Coffee County and the Lady Warriors host Chattahoochee. Laney, whose dominance has been matched in the area only by North Augusta's, plays host to Douglass. The Lady Wildcats are 27-1, and they have won all 25 games by 10 or more points since returning Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year De'Sha Benjamin rejoined the team. Laney's most recent victim was Swainsboro, who the Wildcats topped 70-44 in the first round.

The 1 seeds aren't the only teams in action. Richmond, Greenbrier and Aquinas all hit the road Wednesday for round two as well.

The boys teams in action Thursday include 3 class AA teams: Laney, which hosts Hapeville Charter, and Butler and Josey, which travel to South Atlanta and Banks County, respectively.

Laney shot past Bacon County in the first round behind 15 points from senior Tahj Tanksley. Butler blitzed Jefferson Davis 87-66. Junior Keith Littles scored 25 points in that contest. And Josey went on the road to topple Metter and advance with a 57-36 win.

Aquinas hosts Stratford Thursday. The Fighting Irish received a bye into the class A private school playoffs sweet sixteen round by way of their region championship, which capped a stunning 25-1 run through the regular season in which coach Darren Douglas's team won their games by an average of 30 points!

Lincoln County will host Truetlen in the second round of the class A public school playoffs Thursday. The Red Devils sport an 18-6 record.

The boys teams traveling for second round games include Richmond Academy, which will face LaGrange, and Thomson. The Bulldogs are headed to Blessed Trinity.

Independent schools Westminster, Augusta Prep and Alleluia are all in the early stages of their state tournament action as well.

I'll finish with a few notes about some individual accomplishments:


Augusta Christian's super sophomore Nate Dunlop, who averaged over 26 points per game this season, passed the 1,000 point barrier in his team's final game last week. Westminster senior Jelani Watson-Gayle also recently passed that mark after only two seasons of play.

Alleluia's Ben Dresser, the area's leading scorer at over 30 points per game, recently passed 2,000 career points. 

And in the college ranks...

Christian Keeling, a freshman at Charleston Southern who starred at Laney in high school, made the game winning free throw in his team's win over High Point Saturday. Keeling was then awarded the Big South Freshman of the Week award for the SIXTH TIME!

Ahmed Hill, who stars at Virginia Tech now and before that excelled at Aquinas, scored 12 points in the Hokies' 71-70 win over Clemson Tuesday.

And Matt Miller, a former GAIS Eagle homeschool high school standout from our area, recently played his final game at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Miller averaged 20 points this season, finishing a remarkable career in which he scored more than 1400 points and became the school's 8th all time leading scorer.

Friday, February 17, 2017

AugBball's plans for Friday's state playoff coverage

Friday Night's @AugBball on site coverage of state playoff action will include Richmond's double header girls and boys home games, Laney's double header at home, and Cross Creek's home game against Americus Sumpter.

Also in action at their home gyms are the girls teams of North Augusta, Grovetown, Aquinas, and Josey. Good luck to those teams and to the teams hitting the road Friday!

Aiken and North Augusta advance



Kevin Williamson led the way for Aiken:




Charles "the Mac Daddy" McNeil shared the story of North Augusta's first round win:




Here are two of senior Darius Copeland's game high 21 points:




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The State Playoffs Begin



Visit the @AugBball timelines on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for much more coverage of Tuesday's playoff action and for ongoing coverage during the state playoffs.

Monday, February 13, 2017

From Saturday: Augusta U, Laney's girls and boys, and Aquinas win







*Note: 5 years ago Westside beat Laney in the region title game. So I was wrong im what I typed below. But the overall point holds true, in my opinion.*

By my count this is Laney's 8th straight region championship. I very well may have that wrong. The streak may not be that long but my guess is that if I have it wrong it is more likely that the streak is actually longer. Success like this means there are a lot of people involved who care a great deal about being great. Congratulations to everybody who has taken part in the tradition of excellence on the Boulevard.


The team above is the most impressive team in town.


The Irish are 25-1 entering the state playoffs!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Area hoops update: Saturday, Feb 11

*Note: 5 years ago Westside beat Laney in the region title game. So I was wrong im what I typed below. But the overall point holds true, IMO.*

Last night was a huge night for area high school hoops. Seeing so many good people be so successful, both on the winning and losing sides, honestly made me pretty emotional. I have grown to love so many of the competitors who play and coach here. Tonight will be huge too. Aquinas will aim to win its region tournament and improve to 25-1 overall. Butler will try to add a region tournament title to its regular season crown. Laney will try to top Butler and win its (since I've been counting at least) 8th straight region championship. And the Laney Lady Wildcats will attempt to continue their complete dominance of high school basketball while rival Josey tries to play spoiler in the girls region title game.

All of these great vibes have completely zapped me. In the best way. So I'm going to cheer on my favorite players (Matthew Miller on his USMMA webcast at 2:00 and Keshun Sherrill in his Augusta U game in person at 3:30), and then I'm counting on Harold Doby via the Augusta Basketball Report FB page and Charlesmacdaddy McNeil through Praise 96.9 to relay to me and everybody else who can't be at Laney tonight all the great action from the class AA region 4 tournament championship round that we won't see in person.

Hats off to the basketball people in Augusta for giving this old man tons of joy and tons to do. I couldn't be prouder to call them all my people.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Go to the @AugBball Timelines for Highlights from Friday's Championship and Semifinal Region Tournament Games

Go to the @AugBball Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram timelines for an endless stream of video action from Friday's region tournament championship and semifinal games. Here's a sample:





























Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ours is a basektball town. A look at all the ranked teams in Friday's region tournament championship and semifinal games proves it.

In three area high school gyms Friday, eight region tournament championship and semifinal round boys and girls games will be played, and 10 of the 16 teams in action are ranked in Georgia's top ten in their respective classes. One may say we are playing the state playoffs here in the Augusta area before the state tournament even begins next week!

Of course, AugBball will bring as many highlights and updates as you could ever wish to see from all of the championship week action. Here is a run down of what is ahead, along with a look back at some of the games this week that have led to this weekend's climax:

#5 Lakeside vs #9 Heritage, Round 3
Class AAAAAA, Region 3 Championship Game


Lakeside has no fewer than five players who can manufacture a win for first year coach Jeff Williams, who has guided the Panthers to a 20-4 overall record and a spotless 11-0 run through region play so far. Thursday's semifinal win over Greenbrier was not the only game I've seen in which senior Kre'Sean Hall made the ultimate difference in the outcome. But it may have been the most important one:


Lakeside swept a pair of regular season games against Heritage. The Panthers clinched the regular season region championship at home on January 31 when sophomore Kalen Williams (26 points) and senior Deon Berrien (18) danced their way to a 74-71 win to the roaring approval of their classmates in the stands:


#5 Richmond vs #10 Baldwin
Class AAAA, Region 3 Championship Game 


It took Baldwin coach and Augusta native Buck Harris less than 18 months to take the 3 win team he inherited when he left Laney to a region championship game. And if his trip to Augusta Friday from Milledgeville to compete against long time coaching foe Steve Nobles, himself the leader of a perennial state title contender, is as exciting as this season's first region game between Richmond and Baldwin, we will be in for a treat!



Baldwin repaid Richmond in Milledgeville weeks later, handing the Musketeers their only region loss. We can be sure that two of the town's best coaches who have piled up many of the most notable postseason wins we've seen in the last decade will have their teams in top form for Friday's championship showdown.


#1 Cross Creek vs Richmond
Class AAAA, Region 3 Championship Game


Memphis signee Alana Davis has been the area's most dominant player for two seasons running. The Lady Razorbacks rolled through region play undefeated, much like they did in Thursday's semifinal game against Burke County:


But Richmond's scoring machine Jasmine Robinson, a Troy signee who has scored over 2,000 career points and who went for 50 in a game this season, has proven she can do things others simply cannot. Friday she and her Lady Musketeer teammates will get the chance to shock us all by attempting to knock off the state's top team. Watch Jasmine (in the first three clips of the video below) work against Baldwin in Thursday's semifinal win:



#6 Butler vs #9 Josey
Class AA, Region 4 Semifinals


The Bulldogs and Eagles have an endless rivalry and both teams will seemingly always be fixtures in the region and state tournament picture. Josey handed Butler one of its two league losses during the regular season. So there is no reason to believe the Eagles cannot knock off the top seeded Bulldogs Friday at Laney. Josey certainly looked ready Wednesday, knocking off Glenn Hills in the quarterfinal round:



#1 Laney vs Westside
Class AA, Region 4 Semifinals


The most dominant high school team on this area's Georgia's side did this the last time I saw them in action against a region foe, and I expect much the same from the Lady Wildcats this weekend:



#3 Aquinas vs First Presbyterian (in Macon)
Class A, Region 7 Semifinals


Aquinas sports a 23-1 record and it may be the area's best team. It may also have the best fans. Evidence in support of both points can be found in Wednesday's report from the Fighting Irish's quarterfinal round win over Twiggs County at Aquinas:



#7 Grovetown vs Heritage
Class AAAAAA, Region 3 Championship Game


The Lady Warriors made quick work of Evans Thursday:



#3 Laney vs Westside
Class AA, Region 4 Semifinals


Westside's leader Justin Phillips told me last Saturday (see video below) that he has had Laney on his mind since last season when the Wildcats topped the Patriots in the region championship game:



I understand why Phillips remembers the game so vividly. I do too. It was a great one and it is the type of game you will see if you visit Laney, Cross Creek, or Evans tomorrow. Or if you tune in to @AugBball!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sherrill's performance for the Ages; Another dominant performance by Aquinas; and a state tournament berth for Josey

Photo via AugustaJags.com


Augusta 75, Francis Marion 71


Augusta (18-6, 11-5) shares the Peach Belt East lead with Pembroke, which beat Aiken in overtime Monday. The Jags host Armstrong State Saturday at 3:30.



Sherrill was scorching hot from the start:



Brooks made key plays to keep the Jags in a good position to close the first half:



Francis Marion's Detrek Browning (17 points) didn't have enough to stop Sherrill and company. Augusta's Brooks added 10 points in the win:





Aquinas 66, Twiggs County 44
Class A, Region 7 tournament


Aquinas, the state's #3 class A team which has won 23 of 24 games this season by an average margin of nearly 30 points, also has an elite student section! (Maybe I spoke too soon when I called Westminster's the best in town!)


Thanks to Charlesmacdaddy McNeil for shining a light on what may be the area's best team and its phenomenal fans!




Josey 59, Glenn Hills 51
Class AA, Region 4


Josey will face Butler Friday at Laney in the semifinals. The other semifinal matchup will feature Laney and Westside.




AugBball Notes - 2/8/17

Josey vs Glenn Hills (4:00)
  • Quarterfinals of the class AA, region 4 tournament
  • The winner advances to Friday’s semifinal round and earns a spot in the state tournament

Josey vs Glenn Hills.jpg


Augusta Lady Jaguars vs Francis Marion (5:30)
  • Augusta (7-8) trails Francis Marion (7-7) for the fourth spot in the East (5:30)


USMMA (7-14, 3-9) at Sarah Lawrence (7:00)
  • Matt Miller averages 20 ppg on 42% FG, 37% 3 pt FG, and 85% FT shooting
  • Miller is 10th on the school’s all time scoring list
  • USMMA has won two straight


Miller.jpg


Lincoln County (17-5) vs Tatnall
  • Quarterfinals of the class A, region 7 tournament
  • LC is ranked #5 in class A public


Rand.JPG


Augusta University vs Francis Marion (7:30)
  • Augusta (10-5) is tied at the top of the PBC East divsion with USC Aiken and UNC Pembroke, who play each other in North Carolina.
  • Keshun Sherrill (22), Tyvez Monroe (12), Tamyrik Fields (10) lead Augusta in scoring
  • Detrek Browning (20) leads Francis Marion; freshman Jaquez Smith, a North Augusta High graduate, averages 4 points in 17 minutes per game


Sherrill.JPG


Mars Hill (4-18, 2-14) at Brevard (8:00 PM)
  • Greenbrier graduate Justen Hartfield, a freshman, will start after scoring 25 points in 27 minutes in Saturday’s 83-79 loss Saturday to Newberry.


Aquinas (22-1) vs Twiggs County (8:30)
  • Quarterfinals of the class A, region 7 tournament
  • Tre Gomillion recently won the region player of the year award
  • Aquinas has won its games by an average margin of 29 points


Trey Gomillion.JPG


Virginia Tech at Miami (9:00)


California at Arizona State (11:00)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Greenbrier's Boys and Evans' Girls Advance to Region Tourney Semis, Earn Spot in State Tourney

Top: Greenbrier's Richard Crawford III, Austin Canaday, and Nick Murry
Bottom: Coach Ryan Morningstar, Evans (girls)

Below is a rewind, all in one place, of Tuesday nights highlights and updates from Greenbrier's win over Grovetown, the Evans Lady Knights' victory over Lakeside, and Alcovy's defeat of Evans.


Greenbrier topped Grovetown to advance to the class AAAAAA, region 3 tournament semifinal round and earn a spot in the state playoffs. The Wolfpack face top seed Lakeside Thursday at 8:00 at Evans.




Greenbrier's Richard Crawford III carried the scoring load in the first half, dueling with Grovetown's Eric Graham.




Crawford ended the second quarter on a high note.




Nick Murry, Jordan Jake, and Austin Canaday asserted themselves in the second half.




Lexi Jeffcoat led all scorers with 15 points, including the free throw to clinch Evans's 50-49 quarterfinal round win over Lakeside. The Lady Knights face top seed Grovetown Thursday at 6:30. The next two region tournament games will determine their seed in next week's state playoffs.




Here is how the final minutes of the fourth quarter unfolded:




Lakeside led much of the game...




... after a fast start by both teams.




#3 seed Evans lost a heart breaker to #6 seed Alcovy after leading by two possessions late in the fourth quarter:


Monday, February 6, 2017

Augusta, USC Aiken, and Pembroke win to remain locked at the top of the Peach Belt East after Monday's wins


Augusta, Aiken, and Pembroke remain tied at the top after all three teams won Monday.


Augusta 86, Flagler 75






Augusta (10-5 in PBC play) hosts Francis Marion Wednesday.


USC Aiken 86, Armstrong State 85


Aiken improved to 10-5 in PBC play ahead of Wednesday's showdown at Pembroke, which defeated Lander Monday 83-81 to keep pace with Augusta and Aiken. Here are the highlights from Monday's thriller at Aiken, which were shared live at AugBball's social media accounts (I placed them in reverse order because the last thing that happened was the most exciting):











AugBball Area Hoops News Update: 2-6-17




The first 2.5 minutes or so are about Augusta University, USC Aiken, and the Peach Belt Conference East division race. The next few minutes highlight the high school teams which have gone through region play undefeated. Then I wrap up by mentioning the middle school champs in the Richmond County and private school leagues.

I failed to mention several (high school) private school stories I'll follow. Westminster travels to John Milledge Tuesday to play for the top seed in next week's region tournament. The loser gets the 2 seed and will face Augusta Prep. Augusta Christian hosts Hammond Tuesday. The Lions are finishing their region schedule and trying to earn the highest possible state tournament seed. And Alleluia will soon be starting their GICAA state tournament run. The Angels will try to reach the championship for the third straight season. They won the title two seasons ago.

Give me some feedback about whether you like the news update, please. It will be appreciated.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Review: Dunlop and Dresser light up the scoreboard; Robinson shoots past 2,000 points; and re-broadcasts of Laney-Josey boys and girls games

The area's top two scorers scorched the nets in an impressive display of offense at Augusta Christian Friday night.




Dresser got off to a scorching start with 5 first quarter three pointers.




Dunlop responded with a big second quarter and the pair had logged 50 points combined by halftime!




Another scoring machine, Richmond's Jasmine Robinson, eclipsed the 2,000 points for her career in the Lady Musketeers' 54-36 win over Thomson:




Richmond's boys topped Thomson to finish the regular season with a 9-1 record in region play, earning the Musketeers the top seed in next week's region tournament. Thomson's loss hands Baldwin the second seed, giving Richmond and Baldwin automatic spots in the state tournament.




Laney's win over Josey, which clinched the second seed for the Wildcats in next week's region tournament, was broadcast live at the @AugBball Facebook page:




The Lady Wildcats finished their undefeated sprint through region play:



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#5 Lakeside dances to a regular season region title; Dukes dunks home Westminster's key win; #1 Cross Creek continues its roll, despite Robinson's 39; and more Tuesday night updates

***Go to @AugBball on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all of Tuesday's highlights from four area games***


#5 Lakeside 74, Heritage 71


Lakeside improved to 18-4 overall and 9-0 in region play, clinching the top seed in the coming region tournament and winning its 9 straight, and the 16th in its last 17 games. Sophomore Kalen Williams led all scorers with 26 points, and Deon Berrien added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Berrien converted a three point play to tie the game at 57 in the fourth quarter. You can see that in the video directly below. What you won't see, because I didn't film it, were Berrien's next two field goals, a mid range jumper and a three pointer, which gave the Panthers a 62-57 cushion with less than 3 minutes remaining:



Williams further expanded that lead with a series of moves (or "a little sauce" as he calls it in our post game interview) that led to a soft 18 footer that swished through the net to give the Panthers a 69-62 lead and send the Lakeside student section into a frenzy:


The AugBball Game of the Night was a complete success for the home team. Coach Jeff Williams got his birthday wish (a win!). And fans like me were treated to plenty of exciting basketball, like this exchange at the end of the first quarter, which includes Williams banging in a triple off the dribble and Isaiah Banks, of backboard breaking fame, finishing with authority at the other end right as the buzzer sounded. The basket counted:


#1 Cross Creek 71, Richmond 57





Cross Creek improved to 20-4 overall and 9-0 in class AAAA, region 3 competition. Memphis signee Alana Davis scored 29 points. Richmond (11-11, 5-4) was led by Troy signee Jasmine Robinson, who is rapidly closing in on 2,000 career points. Robinson scored 39 points.

AugBball contributor Harold Doby asked coach Kim Schlein if recently being ranked #1 in class 4A meant anything to her and her team:





Westminster 68, Augusta Prep 45


Westminster controls its own destiny now because Friday's win over the only team to beat the Wildcats since November means Westminster can earn the top seed in the region tournament with wins over Gatewood Friday and John Milledge Tuesday.

Jelani Watson Gayle led all scorers with 23 points, and Mike Dukes tossed in 19, including the dunk of the night, a two hander off the rim in the first half. See that and and an equally impressive block by Dukes here:





Watson-Gayle and Dukes talked to me a little bit after the game. A very little bit. Mostly they celebrated with Westminster's ELITE student section:




Look no further than WRDW's Kevin Faigle for the rest of the area's scores:


#5 Lakeside's coach Jeff Williams wants one thing for his birthday: A win over Heritage to clinch first place in region play!

Since winning 2 games and dropping 3 against 4 of the state's best teams in November, Lakeside has won 15 of 16 games, including 8 straight in region play. And after climbing to the #5 spot in the state rankings, the Panthers (17-4, 8-0) have the chance Tuesday to clinch the top spot in class AAAAAA, region 3 with a win at home against Heritage (16-5, 7-1). The girls tip off at 5:00 and the boys at 6:30.

In this interview with Jeff Williams, Lakeside's coach talks about what has allowed his Panthers to improve their record since last season, which players are making the biggest impact on the their run, and what he wants most on his birthday, which is today, the same day his team will play the most important game (so far) of his first season as a varsity coach:


Monday, January 30, 2017

Augusta Tops Rival Aiken to Grab First Place Spot in PBC East

Augusta Universtity 71, USC Aiken 69 (Men)





Star Grovetown guard Elizabeth Metress, who is also Augusta University's biggest fan, described nicely the way die hard Augusta fans feel about the Jaguars' rival, USC Aiken, when she talked in our pregame interview about how hard it was to cheer for her former teammate Kwajelin Farrar when the Lady Pacers handed the Lady Jaguars a 90-78 loss Monday:

"I'm still excited she's doing well. Even though it's for Aiken. I'm still excited for her..."

I know Elizabeth was excited to see Keshun Sherrill begin the night by making a pull up three on Augusta's first possession before the Jaguars played stingy defense and Sherrill tossed in several more jumpers to give Augusta a 35-22 lead early in the second half.

After the teams shook some first half nerves the scoring floodgates opened as Sherrill continued his hot shooting, netting a game high 23 points while sinking 8-14 field goals, including 3 of 5 from deep. Aiken's Henry Bolton III (18points ) and Jalin Barnes (16) threw shots in from everywhere throughout the second half, leading a furious 18-5 second half run that tied the game at 40.

After Sherrill buried a couple jumpers and Augusta gained back a 49-42 lead it was sophomore Jashawn Brooks's turn to give the Jags some breathing room. Brooks finished a drive in transition and followed that by making a pair of free throws and a baseline jumper. His six straight points gave Augusta a 59-51 lead. And Tyvez Monroe's three pointer moments later gave the Jaguars their biggest lead since early in the second half at 62-53.

Bolton III and Barnes came up with a couple more highly difficult three pointers, Bolton's to close the gap to 64-62 and Barnes's to make it 70-69. But Sherrill and Deane Williams (11 points) and Tamyrik Fields (11 points) each made free throws to cut off Aiken's attempts to complete their comeback.

Augusta improved to 16-4 overall and 9-3 in Peach Belt Conference play. USC Aiken fell to 13-6 and 7-5. The league leading Jaguars travel to Lander Wednesday before returning home for a matchup with UNC Pembroke Saturday at 2:30.

Monday Night's Augusta-Aiken Showdown is the Main Event!

The women play at 5:30 and the men play at 7:30 in Monday's Augusta-Aiken double header!

The winner of Monday's Augusta-Aiken Showdown will be the Peach Belt's Leader

The Peach Belt Conference eastern division race is tightening. Augusta, Aiken, and Pembroke remain at the top. And Armstrong and Lander are surging. The first three weeks of February will decide which two teams will host the west's third and fourth seeds in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament; which four teams will qualify for the tournament; and which will be left out of the post season altogether.

The first main event is tonight's Augusta-USC Aiken showdown at Christenberry Fieldhouse (Augusta's home):




Despite losses by both teams last Wednesday, the Jaguars and Pacers are rolling, each having won 8 of their last 9 games. Monday's matchup features many shot makers who have scorched the nets in recent games. For example, Augusta's Keshun Sherrill and Aiken's Mark Matthews have each been named the PBC Player of the Week twice this season.

Sherrill, the current leader in the conference player of the year discussion, averages 23 points per game while shooting 47% from the field, 40% from deep, and 91% from the free throw line. In the most recent Jaguar home game, Sherrill passed the 2,000 career point mark, becoming only the second player in conference history to achieve that feat:




Matthews, a transfer from UNC Wilmington who averages 15 points and 9 rebounds per game for USC Aiken, won his player of the week awards consecutively in the two most recent weeks:


Sherrill and Matthews have capable help. 


Tyvez Monroe has scored in double figures in each of the last 6 games, and his 24 points against Armstrong State in Wednesday's road loss led the team:



And division I transfers Henry Bolton III (Utah State) and Jalin Barnes (Sam Houston State) combine with Matthews to form a potent Pacers scoring attack. Bolton scored 29 in Aiken's loss to Lander Wednesday:



And Barnes was the hero in the Pacers' recent win over Pembroke:



With Augusta, Aiken, and Pembroke bunched at the top of the standings, and with Lander (2 straight wins) and Armstrong (3 straight wins) threatening to make a run, this week's PBC East action will go a long way toward telling how the post season positioning will look. And no game will be more highly anticipated than Monday's rivalry game between Augusta and Aiken!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Augusta Universtiy, USC Aiken, Queens, and USMMA Headline Wednesday's "College Night"

All American Keshun Sherrill has led Augusta to 8 straight wins and a spot at the top of the PBC standings.


Wednesday is college night as the surging Augusta University and USC Aiken men's teams will aim to extend 8 and 7 game winning streaks, respectively; the Lady Pacers of USC Aiken will try to keep their momentum rolling after recently gaining a share of first place in the Peach Belt eastern division standings; Queens will attempt to continues its SAC dominance; and Matt Miller's USMMA team will shoot for a win over conference foe Old Westbury.


Augusta (15-3, 8-2) at Armstrong State (7-11, 2-7)


The Jaguars have not lost in January, winning all 8 games after dropping two conference games at the end of December to begin league play. Throw the records out the window tonight because no road game in the Peach Belt Conference can be prematurely counted as a win. During Augusta's 8 game streak, the Jaguars have won four home games by an average of 28 points while winning four away games by an average margin of 6. Augusta's latest win came Saturday at Francis Marion when sophomores Tyvez Monroe and Deane Williams (along with two more Jaguars who scored in double figures) led the way with 19 and 15 points respectively:







Doubler Header:
Lander (5-12, 2-6) at USC Aiken (13-4, 7-3)
Lander (11-5, 5-3) at USC Aiken Lady Pacers (11-8, 7-3)


The Pacers have won 7 straight games and they trail Augusta by a game in the red hot Peach Belt eastern division (Augusta, Aiken, and Pembroke are all in the division II southeast region's top 10 rankings this week). And the Lady Pacers are at the top of the women's standings. If tonight's home game includes the same rowdy atmosphere as Saturday's thrilling double header against Pembroke, Aiken's pair of teams will be hard to beat!




Queens (17-1, 11-1) at Newberry (12-6, 7-5)


Queens has spent most of the season in the top ten of the division II rankings. Coach Bart Lundy talked about freshman Daniel Carr, a former Midland Valley standout, in this interview, citing his "tremendous" defense and his ability to make it "almost impossible" for opposing guards to advance the ball past half court:





USMMA (5-11, 2-6) at Old Westbury (8-7, 5-2)


Augusta native Matt Miller is averaging 19 points per game and he was recently named to the Skyline Conference honor roll for the third time this season after scoring 33 points in a recent 64-59 loss.



The 33 point outburst by Miller came on the heels of his game winning shot over St. Joseph's days earlier in a game in which he scored 24 points, including 11 during a game ending 24-6 Mariner run: