Tuesday, August 22, 2017

More Standouts and more Highlights from Will Avery's Review

For a follow up to Monday's post about the standouts from Will Avery's ReviewRoy Peake and Will Avery answered a few questions I gave him. Of course Peake and Avery organized the Review and invited the players. I used their feedback to make the video above, which shows six players Peake thinks may have deserved mention in my "Terrific Ten," a list I posted yesterday.

Chad: Which players do you think should have been included in the Terrific Ten who weren't? Which players do you think should have been listed higher? What or whom impressed you most about Sunday's Review? Is there anything else about Sunday's Review you want to include?
Roy: Two players that come to mind right away that could have been in the top 10 are Ashlee Austin (Northview, GA, 2019) and Unique Drake (Westwood, SC, 2019). Symphony Jackson (Dudley, SC, 2019) had a shot at it. Grace Knutsen (Alpharetta, GA, 2019) is a wing with good size and can hit the 3. 
What I found most impressive about the Review was how hard they competed. Also how versatile the taller girls are becoming. It wasn't that long ago it was like seeing a unicorn if you saw a six foot girl putting the ball on the floor and making combo moves, and there was some of that this weekend. Destiny Thomas (Tri-Cities, GA, 2019) and Jamiah Lane (Thomson, GA, 2019) also played well. Overall the talent was really good, great atmosphere, the coaches were really engaged and encouraging.

Will: There were so many good players that took part in Sunday's event. Ashlee Austin, who I got to coach twice, showed she could do a lot of things from shooting the 3 to grabbing it off the glass and pushing the ball up the floor. I really liked her physical style of play as she drove the ball very strong and got to the line a lot. McKenzie Gadson (Jesse Carson, NC, 2019) was another player I liked. Very athletic and seemed to always make the right play. She has good size and brought a lot of energy on Sunday. Those would be 2 that could have been in the top 10. 
There were two players that in my opinion have the biggest upside and they were Armani Hamilton and D'mya Tucker (both featured in yesterday's post). I was impressed with those two the most. Tucker has a chance to be special with her length and size (6'1"), and she's an explosive athlete. If she improves her outside shot, look for her to really take off!!! Armani Hamilton as an 8th grader (6'0")was very impressive. She has great hands, runs the floor, and is not afraid to mix it up. 
I even saw her push the ball up a few times. I was very pleased with the event and I love that the kids really wanted to win. I don't remember being at many showcases were I heard defensive chants from the bench...lol
Some of the clips in the video above were taken from Elevated Exposure's full game highlight reel, which can be found at its YouTube and Twitter pages.

Here are all the highlight videos in one playlist. Click through it to find any game you want:

And here is a playlist with video footage from the first 7 games from AugBball:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Player Spotlights: Fourteen Standouts from Will Avery's Review

Spring Valley's Ashley Williamson stood out Sunday at Will Avery's Review.

Will Avery's Review, played Saturday at the old Columbia Middle School, featured 48 juniors, sophomores, and freshmen from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Alabama. The players split into six teams and each played three times. Avery, who starred at Duke before playing three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, handpicked the players based on his experience coaching on the AAU circuit. He and Roy Peake, who coach together for the Georgia Sting and run the most extensive basketball operation within driving distance, believe all the players selected have the potential to play college basketball.

I watched the first seven games of the day, and I chose 14 players to feature in the first of two reports from the event. The first list is the "Terrific Ten," which features the ten players who impressed me the most. I also identified three "Local Standouts," who are players from our area who I thought played well. Finally I featured a "Rising Star," an eighth grader with a lot of potential.

***By Tuesday morning, I will post a second report, which will include game highlights from the first seven games, feedback from event organizers Roy Peake and Will Avery about players I missed on my "Terrific Ten" list, and more.***

Terrific Ten - Will Avery's Review











Local Standouts - Will Avery's Review




Rising Star - Will Avery's Review

Friday, August 18, 2017

Thomson Kicks Off 2017 Season with a Commanding Win at Laney

Marcus Cade signals a Thomson first down after a catch in the second quarter.

The 2017 high school sports season kicked off Friday when Thomson, last season's class AAAA state playoff runner up, ran through Laney 50-0 on the road, putting to rest any doubts that the Bulldogs are ready to make another strong run this year. Bubba Murray ran for two touchdowns on the first two possessions as he and Tyrek Braswell, who reached the end zone soon after Murray, carried the ball on nearly every play until deep into the second quarter.

Then the heralded defensive back Christian Tutt asserted himself, taking a hand off on a reverse and scoring on a 30 yard run after breaking multiple tackles to give Thomson a 28-0 second quarter lead. After another Thomson touchdown and safety made it 37-0, Tutt then set up another Bulldog score by returning a kick from near mid field to inside of Laney's five yard line. Tutt is the highest profile athlete in the area, having received scholarship offers from Georgia, Alabama, Florida State, and Nebraska, to name a few.

Tutt ran for a 30 yard touchdown and returned a kick inside the 5 on his two touches Friday.

It wasn't easy to learn the names of all the Bulldogs who made big plays, so forgive me if I make mistakes! Adding to the three named already, you'll also see in the highlight video (above) JaCorey Crawford, who made a bone crushing hit in the first quarter and an interception in the second. I was told Crawford has offers from Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Samford. And Marcus Cade caught two deep passes from quarterback Mills Ridings in the second quarter.

JaCorey Crawford grabbed an interception in the second quarter of Friday's win.

I hope I can make the time to follow high school football this season like I do basketball. I know I started in the right place tonight by seeing the area's best player and probably its best team.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Players from Four States will Attend Sunday's Showcase for Select High School Girls

Will Avery and Roy Peake, who both coach Georgia Sting AAU teams as part of their extensive basketball work in our community, invited 48 girls they believe have the potential to play college basketball for a special showcase this Sunday at the old Columbia Middle School. ESPN's Dan Olson, a well known talent evaluator, will be on hand to watch the prospects, who will come from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Alabama to join a promising group of players from our immediate area.

Laney's Jaiden Hamilton will play in Sunday's showcase.

Many players participating in the event have already made a splash on the local hoops scene. Junior Jaiden Hamilton (pictured above) helped Laney win a state championship last season. Hamilton sports a 3.75 grade point average to go along with her sweet jump shot. Fellow junior Jakiyah Parker of Richmond Academy also will play. The last time I saw her, she provided the heroics in Richmond's dramatic first round state playoff win. Here's a flashback to that night from AugBball's Facebook timeline:

One of the youngest and most promising participants will be Jordyn Dorsey, a freshman at Cross Creek who led Pine Hill Middle School to three consecutive county championships. After watching her score 31 points in 24 minutes in a game last December, I became a big fan. I look forward to seeing her play Sunday against some of the best high schoolers in the surrounding states.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Highlights and Details from the Georgia Soul's Comeback Win in the WBCBL National Championship Game

The Georgia Soul overcame a 13 point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the defending WBCBL champion St. Louis Surge 64-63 Sunday in the league's national championship game. The win was the Soul's third of the weekend in an eight team tournament which featured Women's Blue Chip Basketball League region champions from California, Missouri, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Louisiana. The championship game, played on the Surge's home court, kept the capacity crowd on its feet and the Soul's faithful fans in Augusta glued to the live web stream.

Khadijiah Cave, the former Baylor University and Laney High star, garnered tournament MVP honors after scoring 14 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in the championship game. The rookie center who will soon head to Switzerland to further her professional career calmly sank two free throws with 1:16 remaining that put the Soul ahead for good at 64-63. Lacoya Terry, a first team WBCBL All Star last season, led the Soul with 18 points, including 9 in the fourth quarter. Terry, who excelled at East Carolina and before that Hephzibah High, let out a huge yell when her three point play tied the game at 60 with 2:31 remaining after she stole the ball near half court and teammate Morgan Jennings found her for the score.

But it was former Francis Marion and Laney High star Eboni Fields, another returning All Star, who ignited the comeback. Every time the Soul's prospects seemed hopeless, Fields gave the team life. When Georgia trailed 50-37 with just over 9 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, she nailed a three from the left corner, making it 50-40. One minute later she dribbled over a high screen and drained another bomb from the top of the key, cutting the deficit to 50-45. And what turned out to be her biggest shot came with 2:42 remaining when her three from the left wing cut the Surge's 60-54 lead to 3 points just seconds before Terry's steal and three point play made the score even for the first time since 0-0.

Fields scored 12 points, making 4 three pointers, all in the second half. She explained Monday how she was able to maintain her confidence after failing to make a field goal in the first half:

I was being very hard on myself the 1st half because my shots were not falling. At halftime my teammates and coaches kept telling me keep shooting. We believe in you they will fall. Don't think about it; just shoot. After I saw the 1st shot go down it helped pick my confidence up to just shoot how I know how. My teammates found me and I was grateful they fell when it was needed.

In an interview with another outlet, Terry also talked about the way the players stuck together through the adversity of trailing throughout the first three quarters. Their resilience paid off and made for a satisfying finish to the organization's second season in which the Soul finished 15-3 and capture the attention and excitement of a large portion of Augusta's basketball fans, who followed along on the webcast (see here) and celebrated on social media for many hours afterward.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Will Avery's Middle School Developmental League Registration is Saturday and I highly recommend it

Following Sunday's hour long clinic with 6-10 year old beginners at the old Columbia Middle School, Will Avery asked the players what they learned. Hands shot up and the youngsters answered that they had practiced dribbling with both hands, pivoting with the ball, aiming for the top of the square when shooting layups, and keeping the ball low on a cross over dribble. Avery's "Bantam Baller" clinics, held at 1:00 P.M every Sunday in August, is only one of the ways the former Duke University and NBA star is teaching youngsters how to play basketball this time of the year.

Will Avery demonstrates the proper technique for shooting a layup.

In addition to special training sessions for players of all ages and skill levels, Avery is preparing for the second season of the CSRA Middle School Player Developmental League. According to a recent post on the league's Facebook group page, the league "is for those kids that need a little more work, or beginners in grades 6-8." Advanced 5th graders are also included. Avery aims to serve 80 boys and girls in the coed league in which the emphasis is learning to play the game from the ground up.

Will explained the process after Sunday's clinic: "We start in the practice sessions playing 2 on 0, teaching players things like give-and-go and pick-and-roll. Then we build up to 3 on 0 and add awareness about spacing and driving and kicking. And soon they are ready for 5 on 5 games."

Practice sessions will be held on certain weekdays during the month of August. And games, which will be played on Saturdays, will begin the week after Labor Day. Practices and games are all played at the old Columbia Middle School on Columbia Road. According to Avery, the league "will only cost you your time."

Avery and his extremely capable staff are looking forward to the second season of D-League play after a fulfilling first go around last year. Features from last season that will return include an all star game and a championship tournament. And Avery is planning to make it mandatory that all teams play man-to-man defense so players can develop the feel for help defense, spacing and cutting on offense, and other key fundamental principles before adding more complex aspects of the game.

But most of the anticipation about this season hasn't had as much to do with the X's and O's. Roy Peake, Will's indispensable partner in all things coaching basketball, put it this way in a recent comment about the league:

"I've been coaching a long time and I can't think of a time when basketball was more fun or rewarding than last season in this league. It wasn't always the basketball portion. It's a true reward to watch these kids grow as people and basketball players."

Peake spent many years as an assistant coach at Evans High School. He and Remwick Lee, coach of last season's Richmond County middle school champion Langford and another of Will's invaluable D-League coaching partners, currently head coach a trio Georgia Sting AAU teams along with Avery during the spring and summer.

Speaking of coaches, more are needed. I will join Will, Roy, and Remwick in helping to conduct the voluntary practice sessions during the week and the games on Saturdays. Become a member of the league's Facebook group and send Will a message if you would like to lend your assistance to this worthy endeavor.

Like coach Peake explained, it is very rewarding to help players learn how to play the game and become more capable and confident people. There is no place where they will learn as much as they will from Avery and his staff. And like Will said, the only cost is your time.

***Learn more about Will Avery's basketball camps, training sessions, leagues, clinics, and other activities at his website: www.willaverybasketballcamps.com/***

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Burke County runs over Evans; rising sophomore Chambers shows promise

Burke County's Deontae Carter scored the final 6 points Monday in the Bears' 61-53 summer league win over Evans. Carter's spurt stopped a late run by the Knights that cut the deficit to 55-47, the closest Evans had been since early in the first half. Carter and fellow senior Zayveon Williams, returners from last season's state tournament team, controlled the game throughout the first game of summer league action at Butler.

The convincing win overshadowed an impressive performance by Evans's rising sophomore Christian Chambers, who scored 21 points in the loss. The 6'2" guard with a sweet shooting stroke showed he is likely to be a significant contributor when he joins the varsity team full time this season.

Chambers was last featured at AugBball in 2015 as an eight grader at Columbia Middle School when he scorched Grovetown Middle for 33 points in 24 minutes to give the Raiders a share of the Columbia County championship.

Flash back to Chambers's big scoring night at this link.

Burke County will be back at Butler Monday to play Warren County, which lost to Lakeside yesterday. Evans takes on Glenn Hills Wednesday at 4:00. The Spartans fell in overtime 48-47 Monday against region rival Laney.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Lakeside reloads and begins summer league with a blowout win

Lakeside's Brad Hilley and Tyshun Briscoe each buried a pair of three pointers during an 18-2 first half run that opened up a 28-14 lead for the Panthers over Warren County Monday in the opening game of the June summer league at Butler. The Panthers finished with a 60-37 win in the first of 8 games to be played on Mondays and Wednesdays at Butler this month.

After leading 30-21 at halftime, Lakeside began the second half with a 22-5 blitz, doubling up Warren County 52-26 when Briscoe scored off a feed from Brian Denham with 9:00 remaining. Briscoe, a sophomore transfer from Richmond Academy, joined in the staring five Denham and three more veterans from last season's region championship team, which amassed a 21-6 record and went undefeated through their class AAAAAA region's regular season and tournament schedule.

Transfer Tyshun Briscoe was last featured at AugBball as Langford standout in 2015. (Link here)

Briscoe gives coach Jeff Williams another promising underclassmen to go with returning juniors Kalen Williams, who was last season's leading scorer, and Tucker Gilbert, an active and rapidly improving 6'6" post player.

Lakeside will face Richmond Wednesday at 8:00 P.M. The Musketeers also began their summer schedule with a win, topping Josey 44-37.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Georgia Soul opened its second season with a blowout win over the Capital City Cougars

Eboni Fields scored 21 points, and four of her teammates also scored in double figures as the Georgia Soul ran over the Capital City Cougars in the Soul's Women's Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) season opener Sunday at Laney High.

Lacoya Terry, a returning WBCBL first team all star from last season, scored 15 points, including 6 during a late first quarter stretch when she accounted for all the points in an 8-0 run that gave the Soul a 22-15 lead heading into the second quarter. After building a 19 point cushion by halftime, Fields and Breonna O'Conner, who also scored 15 points, threatened to blow the game wide open when they began the third quarter with a pair of three pointers from the left corner.

Capital City made a mini run, cutting the deficit to 18 points midway through the third quarter. But the Soul's Monique Martin scored 11 of her 14 points during a 5 minute stretch that ended a minute into the fourth quarter with the Soul leading 72-47. The Soul coasted from there as Ciara Lyons, who scored 10 points, converted multiple times in the open court.

The Soul travels to meet the Conyers Rockets next Saturday before returning home to face the Beaufort Bisons Saturday, May 20, at Laney. The Soul players and coaches are attempting to build on last season's 11-4 overall record, which included a WBCBL Carolinas region championship and a trip to the national tournament in San Antonio.

Find more information about the Georgia Soul, including the team's schedule, at georgiasoulbasketball.com.

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!

Area College Hoops Review

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 birth 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


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


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


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)