Monday, December 11, 2017

North Augusta, Laney, and Josey headline Tuesday's girls high school hoops previews

Tyliah Burns and North Augusta return from D.C. for a 4-game-in-5-day stretch that starts Tuesday.

Strom Thurmond (4-2) at North Augusta (5-1)

The Lady Yellow Jackets return home after a 3-game-in-3 day stretch, the last 2 against teams from Florida and New York with a combined record last season of 48-10. North Augusta, which has looked invincible in this area this season, split a pair of high profile matchups at the "She Got Game" tournament last weekend.

North Augusta will follow last week's busy schedule with this week's 4-game-in-5-nights sprint through the area. After Tuesday's home game against the Rebels, the Jackets travel to AC Flora Thursday, to Burke County Friday, and to Lakeside Saturday.

Laney (4-0, 1-0) at Glenn Hills (1-3, 0-1)

Laney's De'sha Benjamin

The Lady Wildcats are averaging 88 points per game. And the offensive statistics are staggering for Laney's "Lethal Weapon 3" like combination of guards:

De'sha Benjamin: 28 ppg, 9 rpg, 5 apg
Jhessyka Williams: 19 ppg, 8 rpg, 5 apg
Jaiden Hamilton: 18 ppg, 7 rgp, 5 apg

Rob Drew will provide live bonus coverage at the @AugBball Facebook page from Laney's game at Glenn Hills.

Josey (9-0) at Butler (1-3, 1-0)

I found it interesting and impressive that the Lady Eagles join the Glenn Hills boys and the Lady Wildcats of Laney, both ranked #1 in class AA by various media sites, as our area's only undefeated teams. So I asked coach Jawan Bailey how high are the spirits in Josey's locker room after such a sizzling start to the season.

"(They are) Surprisingly calm. I think the kids expected to start off well after a really good summer and pre-season," coach Bailey wrote in a message Monday. "They understand it’s more at stake than the undefeated start."

The Lady Eagles have been paced by junior twin sisters Tykedra Rolland (18 ppg) and Rhykeria Rolland (12 ppg), who led Josey in scoring when Rob Drew reported from the Eagles' win at Burke County.

Also, two state title hopefuls and long time rivals will meet again.

Cross Creek (4-2) at Grovetown (6-4)

It has been almost exactly one year since I made a big deal about these teams playing for the sixth time in 12 months. Even though multiple players from those rivalry games the past few years are playing college ball now, both programs are rebuilding nicely and look headed for interesting region, and maybe state playoff, runs.

Tuesday's Boys high school preview features region showdown between Glenn Hills and Laney and a border bashing rematch between Lakeside and Midland Valley

Tune in to the @AugBball Facebook page for bonus coverage of this region showdown!

Laney (5-1, 1-0) at Glenn Hills (4-0, 1-0)

An early season region showdown is sure to take place Tuesday at Glenn Hills when the #1 team in class AA takes on rival and defending region champion Laney. The Spartans have been flawless against stiff competition:

64-57 over Greenbrier  - November 24
66-53 over Midland Valley - November 28
68-54 over Richmond - December 1
66-53 over Butler - December 8

Laney's only blemish came when the wildcats gave up a 21 point second quarter lead to Greenbrier (8-1), falling in overtime at Paine on November 25.

Tuesday's rematch should provide plenty of fireworks!

Lakeside (5-2) at Midland Valley (1-4)

Beating the same team twice in four nights and winning the second one on that opponent's home court will be the challenge for the Panthers, who earned a 69-65 win over the Mustangs Saturday at home. That was Lakeside's first game in a week. But the next five days holds almost no rest for coach Jeff Williams's crew because after Tuesday's game the Panthers will prepare for a two game weekend home stand against Greenbrier (8-1) Friday in both teams' region opener, and against North Augusta Saturday.

Midland Valley has played a difficult schedule that has included Glenn Hills (#1 GA class AA), Irmo (#10 SC class AAAAA), and Lakeside already.

Strom Thurmond (3-4) at North Augusta (3-1)

If Lakeside will have "almost no rest" this week, then North Augusta takes the idea a step further by hosting the Rebels Tuesday, playing at AC Flora Thursday in a return game from last Thursday's Falcons win at North Augusta, before finishing the week on the road at Burke County Friday and Lakeside Saturday.

More of Tuesday's class AA, region 4 games:

  • Harlem (5-6, 1-0) at Screven County (1-2, 0-0)
  • Jefferson County (4-1, 0-0) at Westside (0-6, 0-1)
  • Josey (2-7, 0-1) at Butler (1-4, 0-1)

More non region games:

Daniel Parrish and Aquinas are rolling through conference play.

  • Washington Wilkes (3-3, 0-0) at Aquinas (3-1, 2-0)
  • Augusta Christian (6-3) at Fox Creek (6-2)
  • Evans (3-4) at Hephzibah (1-4)
  • Cross Creek (3-3) at Grovetown (3-4)
  • Eau Claire at Silver Bluff (3-2)
  • Taliaferro County at Warren County (1-2)
  • Thomson (5-2) at Monticello

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Lakeside takes first of back-to-back matchups with Midland Valley before Friday's region opening showdown

Lakeside and Midland Valley will meet again Tuesday at MV.

Brad Hilley scored 21 points and Kalen Williams added 20 as Lakeside earned a 69-65 win over Midland Valley at home Saturday.

The Panthers improved to 5-2 with the win, which snapped a two game losing streak after Lakeside dropped a pair of road games the prior weekend at the home gyms of state title contenders North Augusta and Collins Hill.

The Mustangs (1-4) were unable to complete a weekend sweep of Columbia County after scoring 47 second half points Friday in a come-from-behind road win over Evans. 6’4” senior guard Anthoney Ray continued his exciting play Saturday with 18 points, including a high flying dunk and a couple difficult three pointers off the dribble. Ray, who entered the weekend averaging 22 points per game, scored 17 in Friday’s win.

Lakeside and Midland Valley meet again Tuesday at MV before Lakeside hosts Greenbrier (8-1) Friday in a prime time matchup to open class AAAAAA play.

Augusta routes Paine ahead of a pair of PBC home games

Augusta University got 22 points from junior Tyvez Monroe, 16 from Tamyrik Fields, and career highs from freshmen Troy Cracknell (10 points) and Shawn Moss (8) in Saturday's 85-56 home win over Paine.

The win was the second straight for the Jaguars (4-3), who won last weekend at Georgia College to open Peach Belt Conference play. Paine fell to 1-8 on the season.

Saturday’s win was a breakout game of sorts for the Jaguars, who made 8 of 12 three pointers and converted 53% of their field goals after making only 37% of their shots and managing only one three pointer in last Saturday's 52-51 win over Georgia College.

But no matter the offensive numbers, Monroe, a three year starter, stressed that the team’s success will depend on what happens on the defensive end of the court.

"Scoring is not going to be a problem," Monroe said in a post game interview. "It's more about defense than anything right now. That's what we're trying to get better at."

The defense will surely be key. Augusta has held its past two opponents to fewer than 60 points. An effort like that in the last two (conference) games before Christmas (Sunday at home against Young Harris and December 19th at home against North Georgia) will be a present that the Jaguars will gladly accept from Santa.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The most important 8 days of the regular season begins today for Glenn Hills, Butler, Laney, and Josey

Region play begins tonight for the area's class AA region, which includes the #1 ranked AA team in the state on both the boys (Glenn Hills) and the girls (Laney) sides. Here are the things I'll follow closely during the first week of league action:

See @AugBball on Facebook for bonus coverage from #1 Glenn Hills's matchup with Butler tonight.

The most important 8 days of the regular season begins today for Glenn Hills, Butler, Laney, and Josey

The four boys teams listed above are the favorites to grab the 4 state playoff spots at stake in this 7 team region. If it seems premature to say that the first 8 days are the most important for these teams, consider all of the prime time matchups that will impact the teams' 12 game record come February when the region tournament begins:

Friday, December 8
Glenn Hills at Butler

Tuesday, Dec 12
Laney at Glenn Hills
Josey at Butler

Friday, Dec 15
Laney at Butler

The same teams played the same schedule in the same sequence last season, and both the regular season region champ, Butler, and the tournament winner, Laney, finished the 8 day gauntlet with 2-1 records over the span. On the other side of the spectrum, Glenn Hills dropped 2 of the 3 games before going on to finish fourth in the regular season standings and fifth in the region tournament, surprising many by missing the state playoffs.

The lesson here is that it is difficult to have a great region record if you don't have a great start to region play. That is especially true when close to half of your most important games come in the first 8 days of league play.

Much is at stake because the regular season champion gets a bye in the first round of region tournament play and therefore an automatic spot in the state playoffs.

If this season's version of the Glenn Hills vs Butler rivalry game is anything like last season's (see below), you'll want to tune in to the @AugBball Facebook page to follow along:

On the girls side, Laney looks likely to blitz the competition, but Josey is riding high

De'sha Benjamin has scored 34 points in back-to-back games

I believe nobody will stop Laney's Lady Wildcats (3-0) this season. Tuesday's 90-55 win over Richmond, which included a 57-14 run over a span of 16 minutes to blow open the game, is the latest evidence for that theory.

The Lady Wildcats visit Westside (2-1) tonight.

But Josey (7-0) is off to its best start in a long time, recently earning wins over AAAA state tournament hopefuls Burke County (highlights below) and Cross Creek.

The Lady Eagles probably will not have trouble tonight against Harlem, and shouldn't Tuesday against Glenn Hills. But next Friday's visit to Butler will require Josey's full attention, because the Lady Bulldogs proved in a recent near win at Cross Creek (highlights below) that they can compete against the better teams.

Lady Yellow Jackets make it 32 straight with dominating win over Flora; boys drop first game of season

Mya Burns scored 12 points in North Augusta's win Thursday.

Amari Young scored 29 points and dished out 6 assists as North Augusta topped AC Flora 75-29 at home Thursday to improve to 4-0 ahead of a much anticipated weekend trip to Washington, D.C.

The defending state champion Yellow Jackets leave for D.C. at 6:00 AM to arrive in time for Friday’s 7:30 P.M. showdown with Winter Haven, Florida’s class 8A champion last season, in the 9th annual “She Got Game” tournament, which last season featured 117 teams from 13 states.

The Lady Yellow Jackets made the difficult look easy Thursday, leaping out to a 28-5 lead over a strong Flora squad, which entered the game with a 5-1 record. North Augusta further broke open a 23 point halftime lead with another 28 point quarter in the third, taking a 42 point lead, at 68-26, into the final period before the bench was cleared for the night.

 Young’s game high 29 led the way. Mya Burns (12 points), Sarah Crews (11), and Aaliyah Bell (11) also scored in double figures. But the most impressive statistic I can report is that for the 21 made field goals by North Augusta that I recorded, I count 16 assists.

That’s remarkable. And so are the Lady Jackets, who extended their winning steak to 32 last night.

I’ll share updates from D.C. as I get them so we can find out if that winning streak, which is over 12 months old now, will live through the weekend!

Boys drop first game of the season

North Augusta’s boys suffered their first loss of the season, a 57-49 decision to AC Flora, which recently swept a pair of games at Evans High against Baldwin and Evans.

The Yellow Jackets dug out of holes twice, first at the end of the first quarter when RJ Felton’s basket completed a 14-5 run that gave North Augusta a brief lead at 17-15. Then after trailing 29-22 late in the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets went on another spurt, outscoring the Falcons 17-5 and taking a 39-34 lead into the final minute of the third quarter.

North Augusta's Tez Collins scored 16 points against AC Flora Thursday.

Flora seized back the momentum by making 4 three pointers in the next 4 minutes and racing to a road win after outscoring North Augusta 20-10 in the final period.

Senior Tez Collins (16 points) and freshman RJ Felton (14 points) led the way for the Jackets.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

North Augusta’s girls and boys host AC Flora tonight before girls leave for big tournament in DC

North Augusta's double header vs AC Flora is Thursday's Game of the Day.

Especially because there are no other varsity games being played in the area tonight, I encourage hoops fans to check out North Augusta's double header against AC Flora. The Lady Yellow Jackets (3-0) will try to continue their 31 game winning streak, which began the first game of last season and included a state championship game victory in March. And the boys (3-0) will face maybe their toughest test yet in the Falcons, who enter the game with a 4-1 record, including wins over Baldwin and Evans.

The Lady Jackets and fellow state champ Laney play at a level above all of the other girls teams in our area. Senior Amari Young signed her national letter of intent to play college ball at Old Dominion and Sarah Crews has signed with Lander, the team to beat in the Peach Belt Conference. And underclassmen like Mya Burns will likely soon follow her older teammates' lead.

And I placed the boys team #3 in the December edition of my "Top 10 Area Teams List," a pick that I gained even more confidence in after the Yellow Jackets handled Lakeside (#6) Friday at home.

Lady Jackets are off to Washington, D.C., immediately after Thursday's game

Soon after tonight's game ends, the girls will travel to one of the nation's top high school girls tournaments, the "She Got Game" classic in Washington, D.C., which included 117 teams from 13 states last season. In this interview, Crews and head coach Crystal Cummings talk about the high profile tournament, what it means to them, and how they were able to get such a great opportunity:

NA's schedule in DC

North Augusta vs Winter Haven
- Friday 7:25
- Winter Haven (4-0) is Florida’s defending 8A District 7 state champion.

North Augusta vs Cardinal O’Hara
- Saturday 12:50
- Cardinal O’Hara (1-0) reached New York’s state semifinals last season, winning the Monsignor Martin League and amassing a 21-6 overall record.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Laney's boys and girls sweep Richmond at Richmond

D'Juan Griffin scored 14 points in Laney's win Tuesday.

Laney's Donald Henley pulled up from the left wing and buried a three pointer in front of his own bench to give his team a 52-43 lead over Richmond with 4:21 remaining, and the Wildcats earned a 60-53 road win to improve to 4-1 for the season.

Laney 60, Richmond 53 - Full Game Highlights

Henley, a veteran playing his fourth year of varsity basketball, scored a team high 15 points, and he was very comfortable taking the shot that gave Laney a big enough cushion to coast to a victory.

"We've been doing this since the ninth grade, so we just kept our composure and played hard," the fiery point guard told me in the post game interview below.

Henley's three pointer was timely because Richmond had gained the momentum after almost completely overcoming a 13 point second half deficit with an 18-7 run that cut Laney's lead to 39-37 after three quarters. After Henley's three, the Wildcats regained possession and ran more than a minute off the clock before PJ Walker put back his own miss with 2:07 remaining to give the Wildcats a 56-46 lead and end all hope of another Richmond comeback.

Henley (15 points), D'Juan Griffin (14), and Walker (8) led the way for Laney. The quickness and skill of that dynamic trio more than made up for the Wildcats' size disadvantage against the Musketeers, which were led by senior DT Stephens, who netted a game high 19 points.

Laney (4-1) will visit Westside Friday in both teams' class AA region 3 opener. Richmond (4-3) will visit Grovetown Friday.

Laney's "Big 3" Score Big and the Lady Wildcats Run Away with the Win

Jaiden Hamilton scored 20 points in Laney's win Tuesday.

De'sha Benjamin scored 34 points, and Jaiden Hamilton and Jhessyka Williams tossed in 20 and 19 points, respectively, to lead the defending state champion Lady Wildcats to a 90-55 win at Richmond.

Laney 90, Richmond 55 - Full Game Highlights


Laney used a 57-14 spurt that spanned the entire second and third quarters to take an 80-41 lead after into the fourth. The run was punctuated by a very matter-of-fact three pointer from Benjamin that she made on the last play of third quarter before walking to the bench.

"The clock was running down, and I saw an open opportunity," the Alabama signee told me in this post game interview:

Monday, December 4, 2017

AugBball's Top 10 Boys HS Teams List (December Edition) includes Aiken, Aquinas, North Augusta, and Glenn Hills at the top

So far this season, four teams have distinguished themselves from the pack with fast starts. Those teams grabbed the first four spots on the December edition of my "AugBball Top 10 Boys Teams List:"

Aiken, Aquinas, North Augusta, and Glenn Hills top my list of top 10 teams./

#1 - Aiken (2-0)

November ranking: #1
Next game: Aiken at Greenwood - Tonight

When I put Aiken at the top of the list in the November edition of the top 10, I cited the Hornets’ size (4 starters stand 6’4” and taller) and their winning pedigree (Aiken went 24-5 last season, including an undefeated run through region play and a class AAAA state playoff quarterfinal finish.

But once I finally got to see the 2017-18 version of Aiken last week, I was most struck by coach Darris Jackson’s team’s man-to-man defense. The Hornets held Silver Bluff to less than 20 points in both halves of their opener. After the game, coach Jackson talked to me on the phone about how pleased he was with his bigger players’ effort moving their feet and keeping the Bulldogs’ guards in front of them. Watch and listen here:

#2 - Aquinas (1-1)

November ranking: #2
Next game: Lake Oconee at Aquinas - Tonight

After I’ve watched North Augusta and Glenn Hills play nearly flawless basketball 3 times in the past 12 days, the fact that I am keeping the Irish at number 2 in this month’s edition of the list says a lot for how highly I think of the program coach Darren Douglas is building.

It is a sure sign that your defense is playing at a high level when you hold the likes of Bishop Loughlin (NY) and Eagles Landing Christian to 45 and 40 points, respectively, in the high profile Holiday Hoopsgiving Tournament in Atlanta. And the point about how good the Irish look already was driven home even more emphatically when critics complained so much on Twitter about how badly the referees (supposedly) cheated ELCA.

I can imagine how it must be hard to believe that a team can be as disciplined and prepared as Aquinas was on the season’s opening weekend. The Irish’s ability to stop teams from scoring is the reason I believe they would win in a matchup with any area team except for Aiken.

Here coach Douglas talks after a preseason scrimmage about the Irish's defense and the contributions assistant coach Wes Wuchte has made towards the cause:

#3 - North Augusta (2-0)

November ranking: #3
Next game: North Augusta at Dutch Fork - Tonight

The Yellow Jackets put on an offensive clinic Friday, beating Lakeside 84-70 after starting the game with 28 first quarter points. Coach Tony Harrell's sources of offense were everywhere:

  • Sophomore Omarion Byrd made 6 threes en route to a game high 24 points.
  • Tez Collins scored 21, including a highlight reel dunk that made the crowd buzz.
  • The fantastic freshman Russell Felton played way beyond his years, scoring 20 points in his first high profile game.
  • And 6'4" wing Bryson Mozone buried 3 three pointers.
But the way the Yellow Jackets used their offense to get Collins exactly where they wanted him against the smaller guards Lakeside defended him with was the most impressive thing to me about North Augusta's 84 point explosion:

#4 Glenn Hills (3-0)

November ranking: #6
Next game: Glenn Hills at Butler (region opener)

Many believe the Spartans have the area's most talented and best team. Coach Travis McRae's squad may be on their way to proving them right. That 6'8" senior Timmy Sellers and 6'5" sophomore John Whitehead have dominated the space above the rim is no surprise.

But the instant impact of transfers Tim Williamson (20 ppg through 3 games) and Isaiah Bauman (11 ppg) has surprised me.

#5 - Baldwin (3-3)

November ranking: #4
Next game: Hancock at Baldwin - Saturday, Dec 9

Donte Justice - Baldwin

#6 Lakeside (4-2)

November ranking: #6
Next game: Midland Valley at Lakeside - Saturday, Dec 9

Kalen Williams - Lakeside

#7 Greenbrier (5-1)

November ranking: not ranked
Next game: Greenbrier at Augusta Christian - Tonight

Richard Crawford III - Greenbrier

#8 - Laney (3-1)

November ranking: #5
Next game: Laney at Richmond - Tonight

Donald Henley - Laney

#9 - Burke County (2-0)

November ranking: not ranked
Next game: Evans at Burke County - Tonight

Deontae Carter - Burke County (photo via Larry Smith)

#10 - Richmond (4-2)

November Ranking: #9
Next game: Laney at Richmond - Tonight

DT Stephens - Richmond

Burke County stays unbeaten with win over Josey

Burke County 50, Josey 47 - 12/2/17

In the boys matchup, (1-0) Burke County took on the (2-3) Eagles of Josey. Burke County opened up the season Friday night with a 68-58 win over AugBball's preseason area top 10 pick Midland Valley.

Buckets came early and often in this one, as BC’s Deontae Carter scored 8 of his game high 19 points in the opening period as the Bears took a 16-15 lead. Then in the second, Jahleel Roundtree slammed one home, providing a more spark for the Bears as they stretched the lead to 5 entering the half at 27-22.

In the 3rd quarter, Josey's Ricardez Williams and Rodriquez Daggett made their way to the rim for a couple of tough scores, but Burke County responded with some tough buckets of their own by Zayveon Williams and Carter, extending the Bears lead to 8 entering the 4th at 39-31. After the Bears took a 10 points lead on a Simeon Coleman layup with 6:20 remaining, Williams scored back-to-back buckets for the Eagles and connected on a 3 with :35 second left to cut the Bears lead to 3 at 47-44. But Carter knocked down 3 of 4 free throws to make it a 50-44 game before Josey's Dajuante Williams hit a triple to make it 50-47.

After a missed BC free throw, Josey was able to get a game tying triple off that didn’t go down and the Bears prevailed 50-47. Deontae Carter led the way with 19 points and Simeon Carter added 10. The Bears improved to (2-0) while Josey fell to (2-4).

Josey’s Ricardez Williams scored a team high 16 points and Joshua Kelly added 12.

The Bears (2-0) host Evans (2-3) Tuesday at 7:30 and Josey (2-4) hosts Cross Creek (2-1) on Tuesday at 6:30.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Josey's Lady Eagles improve to 6-0 with road win over Burke County

Josey 61, Burke County 51 - 12/2/17

by Robert Drew for AugBball

Saturday’s non-region showdown in Waynesboro began with 2 of the top girls teams in the area as the 3-0 Lady Bears hosted the 5-0 Lady Eagles of Josey. Burke County’s De’ja Hamilton and Kianni Westbrook did not play due to an incident that occurred during the Lady Bears' 51-36 win over Midland Valley Friday night. It showed as Josey took advantage early and got out to a 6-0 lead before a Lady Bears' time-out.

Josey’s twin tandem of Tykedra and Rhykeria Rolland propelled the Lady Eagles to a 24-10 lead after a quarter of action, scoring 9 and 7 points respectively in the opening period. In the second, Burke County’s Trinity Wright responded by orchestrating the Lady Bears offense. She had 4 assists in the quarter alone, including 3 beautiful entry passes. Wright sparked an 8-2 run for the Lady Bears entering halftime, but the Lady Eagles still held a 34-20 lead at the break.

The second half was much of the same, as Tykedra Rolland pumped in 15 points the next two periods. Rolland led all scorers with 24 points, including 3 three pointers and 7-8 shooting from the foul line. Her sister Rhykeria finished with 15 points, and senior Rondaijah Wynn scored 11.  

Burke County's Quaneshia Hamilton led the Lady Bears with 16, and 6’1 sophomore Tyasia Freeman added 12.

The Lady Eagles (6-0) host Cross Creek (2-1) Tuesday, December 5th, at 5:00.

The Lady Bears (3-1) host Evans (4-0) Tuesday at 5:00.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

North Augusta dominates double header against Lakeside

North Augusta's boys and girls both started season 2-0 with wins Thursday and Friday.

Dominate may not be a strong enough verb for what the Lady Yellow Jackets did for the second time in two days to open their season and start the journey to attempting to repeat as South Carolina class AAAA state champions. North Augusta responded to an early 4-1 Lakeside lead by scoring 44 unanswered points against the Panthers and eventually winning 73-18 to improve to 2-0 one day after opening the season with a 75-21 win over Dutch Fork.

All five of North Augusta's starters hovered around double figures. Tyliah Burns scored 14 points to lead the way while Aaliyah Bell added 13, Amari Young 11, and Sarah Crews and Mya Burns each chipped in 9 for the Lady Yellow Jackets, who went through all of last season undefeated.

Next North Augusta travels to Washington, D.C.,  for a pair of prime time matchups, including a showdown Friday with Winter Haven, last season's class 8A Florida state champion. After winning 30 straight games dating back to last November, I'll say the Lady Yellow Jackets are due for such a challenge.

North Augusta lights it up and hands Lakeside its first loss

Three Yellow Jackets scored 20 or more points on the way to North Augusta's 84-70 win over Lakeside. Omarion Byrd scored 24, making 6 three pointers, Tez Collins scored 21, and freshman Russell Felton scored 20 as the Yellow Jackets improved to 2-0 ahead of Tuesday coming road game against Dutch Fork. Lakeside was led by Kalen Williams' 18 points. Williams, the area's leading scorer (32 ppg) after 4 games, scored only 3 points in the first half.

North Augusta led 28-9 after one quarter after Byrd, Collins, and Bryson Mozone made 5 threes in the first 8 minutes. Lakeside cut the deficit to 6 (40-34) at halftime, but the Yellow Jackets quickly regained a double-digit lead in the third quarter and never gave it up for long.

Post Game Interview with North Augusta coach Tony Harrell

Friday, December 1, 2017

Previews for 5 of tonight's high school games featuring 8 preseason top 10 teams

My (soon to be revised) preseason top 10 HS boys teams list

Tomorrow night’s high school hoops lineup is loaded with great matchups, including the following that are on the top of my mind:

Lakeside (4-0) at North Augusta (1-0)

AugBball Game of the Day Double-Header

- Not only does this game include the area’s hottest team in Lakeside, and player in Kalen Williams. It also features my preseason #3 area team, NA.

And the girls game includes the Lady Yellow Jackets, who went all last season without losing while grabbing a state title. (My prediction is they’ll do it again.)

Richmond (4-1) at Glenn Hills (2-0)

If Lakeside is the hottest team, Glenn Hills is not far behind after beating Greenbrier (4-1) at Paine and Midland Valley on the road Tuesday. And Richmond will surely be aiming to redeem themselves after their lopsided defeat to Lakeside last weekend.

Butler (1-1) at Baldwin (2-2)

The Bulldogs have people wondering what to make of their 59-39 loss to Cross Creek. And Baldwin has many believing coach Buck Harris’s Braves are the favorites to repeat as region champs in our area’s class AAAA region.

Midland Valley (0-1) at Burke County (0-0)

The Mustangs and 6’4” guard Anthoney Ray, who scored 20 in MV’s loss to Glenn Hills Tuesday, will visit Waynesboro for the home opener for the Bears, a team I regret not including on my preseason top 10 area teams list.

Lexington (4-1) at Aiken (1-0)

The Hornets, my preseason pick for the area’s best team, play their first home game after blitzing Silver Bluff 60-36 Wednesday.

After this weekend I will revise my area top 10 teams list for the last time until the new year. Already in November I’ve watched all 10 teams I picked for the preseason edition of the list. (I’ve seen close to 25 teams play already!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Baltimore leads Aiken to a blowout win at Silver Bluff

Aiken's Nazae Baltimore shoots a jumper at Silver Bluff Wednesday.

6'6" junior Nazae Baltimore dominated the paint in Aiken's season opening 60-36 win at Silver Bluff Wednesday in the AugBball Game of the Day. The 6'6" junior scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win.

Baltimore scored 10 first half points, 6 off the offensive glass, during the only stretch in which the Hornets had trouble scoring. Aiken led 24-18 at the break after George Williams made his team's first three pointer with 26 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

The Hornets found a nice rhythm in the second half when Williams and Calvin Mathis each buried a three to spark a 10-0 run that put Aiken ahead 34-18. Mathis, who scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half, would follow that spurt with a three pointer and a dunk to give the Hornets a 41-26 advantage. The Bulldogs would get no closer than 9 points after that.

Full Game Highlights

Coach Darris Jackson, who led Aiken to a 24-5 record last year in his second season as head coach, talked about his team's effort in playing a stifling man-to-man defense against Silver Bluff's smaller guards.

"It was a challenge for our bigs to get out and guard, and I think they're the ones who did an excellent job getting out and defending guards. For big guys to be able to get out and move their feet... it was a great challenge for them, and they accepted it," Jackson said after the game.

Aiken's Antonio Bussey - 6'7" Center

Aiken's size and length is imposing. Baltimore is joined down low by senior Antonio Bussey (6'7"), and they are flanked on the wings by seniors Mathis and Kevin Williamson, who each stand 6'4".

Silver Bluff's Jadakiss Wright

Jadakiss Wright led Silver Bluff with 9 points. Wright scored all of his points by making 3 first half three pointers. The third cut Aiken's lead to 4 at 21-17 with 33 seconds left in the second quarter. That was the closest the Bulldogs would get the rest of the game.

The Hornets (1-0) play their first home game Friday against Lexington (4-1). Silver Bluff (1-1) will host South Aiken (1-0) Friday.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Glenn Hills earns road win over Midland Valley with a balanced attack

Four Glenn Hills players scored in double figures in the Spartans' 66-53 road win over Midland Valley Tuesday. Tim Williamson scored 12 of his team high 18 points in the fourth quarter when the Spartans ran away from the Mustangs by closing the game with a 19-9 run. Anthoney Ray, Midland Valley's 6'4" star guard, led all scorers with 20.

Glenn Hills (2-0) was sparked at different times by different senior leaders. Isaiah Bauman (11 points) scored consecutive field goals to erase a 4 point Midland Valley lead and even the score at 17 after one quarter. Timmy Sellers (12) scored on three straight put backs in the second quarter to help the Spartans take a 34-31 lead at intermission. And John Whitehead (13 points, 9 in the second half) and Williamson shouldered most of the second half load.

Full Game Highlights

Williamson, a transfer from Hephzibah, talked about attacking the basket off the screen and roll and how much he enjoys his new team in this post game interview:

The Spartans host Richmond (4-1) Friday. Midland Valley (0-1) hosts Butler (1-1) Thursday.

Cross Creek sweeps Butler in girls and boys home opener

Sophomore Micah Bess scored with less than 40 seconds remaining to give Cross Creek a 40-39 lead over Butler. And teammate Jordyn Dorsey made a steal on the Lady Razorbacks' final defensive possession to seal Cross Creek's home opening win Tuesday.

Full Game Highlights

Dorsey, a freshman, scored 10 of her game high 15 points during a 10 minute second half stretch that set up the wild finish. Dorsey scored 11 of Cross Creek's 18 second half points, including 2 three pointers that both tied the game, first at 32 in the final minute of the third quarter, and next at 35 moments later. Dorsey talked about her love for the game and about whether she was nervous in the game's most tense minutes in this post game interview:

The Lady Razorbacks (2-1) will visit Josey next Tuesday. The Lady Bulldogs (0-2) travel to Midland Valley Thursday.

Cross Creek's boys complete the unlikely sweep

Cross Creek toppled Butler 59-39, an outcome that almost nobody would have expected, behind 11 points each from Jatravious Stewart and Devon Hicks. Having beaten one class AA preseason top 10 team in the Bulldogs, the Razorbacks are off until next Tuesday when they will visit Josey, ranked #4 in class AA preseason poll by the AJC.

Butler faces a tough pair of games Thursday at Midland Valley and Friday at Baldwin.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Coach Buck Harris helps preview Baldwin's pair of weekend home games against Butler and WACO

Brenden Robertson: 18 ppg, 7 rpg, 53% FG through 4 games.

Baldwin of class AAAA's region 3 (which includes Richmond, Thomson, and other local teams) won two games last week to improve to 2-2 after opening the season with a pair of losses to AC Flora and Johnson at the tip-off tourney at Evans. The losses, suffered without the services of 3 year starters Torez Hicks and Donte Justice, may have been a blessing in disguise because coach Buck Harris was able to challenge players like Brenden Robertson (18 ppg, 53% FG), Charles Ubah (9 ppg, 44% 3 pt FG), and Ty’Rec Ray (17 points vs Johnson) to lead the way against two teams that will likely go deep into this season’s state playoffs in their respective classes.

“I told those guys that they could find their own identity without Torez and Donte. That they needed to because we're only going to be as strong as the guys coming off the bench are playing. And I think they answered that test,” said Harris last Sunday after Baldwin’s first weekend of play.

Get to know the Baldwin Braves

With Justice and Hicks back in the lineup, Baldwin, the region champion last season, should be close to mid season form this Friday and Saturday when Harris hosts a pair of formidable, and familiar, foes: Butler (class AA’s #6 ranked preseason team by the AJC) and Washington County. As the coach of Laney’s region championship teams in 2014 and 2015, Harris did battle with both of those teams in region play in the past.

Justice scored 29 points and made 40% of his three pointers in Baldwin’s pair of wins over Jones County and Hancock Central last week, both on the road. Hicks dished 9 assists in that span. A complete Braves roster playing at home for the first time this season this weekend should be cause for lots of excitement in Milledgeville.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Aquinas's defense "travelled" to prime time tournament and led to a blowout win over a top 10 foe

Tre Gommillion led the team in scoring (17 ppg) and rebounding (11 rpg) last weekend.

Most teams go through complete seasons without the players and the coaches all being on one page and aiming for one goal. And most teams aren’t successful. Those that are successful usually take some time to gel. But Aquinas's players and coaches are both wonderfully aligned at a very early stage in the season. As far back as _, Aquinas coach Darren Douglas and his top returning player, and according to the Augusta Chronicle the area’s top returning player, Tre Gomillion, were perfectly aligned with their words. In our preseason interview (below) it became clear that among the three of us, I was the only guy who didn’t know that the Irish expected, and knew how, to hold opponents to less than 40 points per game:

The Fighting Irish proved in a pair of high level games at last weekend’s Holiday Hoopsgiving tournament that their actions on the defensive end of the court will speak even louder than their words.

Watch the archived broadcast of Aquinas's win over #9 (class A private) Eagles Landing at the link below:

In its season opener, Aquinas lost a close game (45-42) to Brooklyn (NY) power house Bishop Loughlin. The Irish led throughout the contest after allowing only 19 first half points. The next morning the Irish took their game to another level on both ends of the court against Eagles Landing Christian Academy, which the AJC ranked #9 in class A private in its preseason rankings. Aquinas held ELCA to 15 first half points, and Gomillion scored 20 points to lead a balanced Irish attack that included impressive inside play by 6’5” seniors Dajuan Hill and Cameron Gardner and timely shooting by senior guards Trent Bowdre and Gerald Merriweather. And senior South Aiken transfer Daniel Parrish excelled in all areas, as he does often, scoring 9 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing 5 assists.

As you can hear in the interview above, the defensive chops at Aquinas under coach Douglas were firmly established during last season’s 26-2 run that ended with an appearance in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. But last season the Irish didn’t have a chance to showcase that defense on a stage like the one at the Holiday Hoopsgiving, or against teams like Bishop Loughlin or ELCA, until March.

Watching them do it in November this year makes me excited about what Gomillion and a cast of seniors will do in their second season under Douglas’s leadership.

Greenbrier's Crawford and Company engineer a comeback win over Laney at the Thanksgiving Classic at Paine

Greenbrier's Richard Crawford III would not let last season's history - when Crawford's game tying 3 against Laney was answered by a game winning Wildcat basket - repeat itself Saturday at Paine. The junior guard scored 25 points to lead the Wolfpack to a 71-67 overtime comeback win over Laney at the Thanksgiving Classic. The Wolfpack trailed by 21 at one point during the second quarter. Crawford and Josh Conzett (17 points) combined to make 9 three pointers. And 37 of the pair's 42 combined points came after halftime when Greenbrier dug itself out of a 31-16 deficit.

Full Game Highlights:

In the post game interview below, Crawford talked about the lessons he learned during last season's dramatic early season game against Laney, and he shared what he told his teammates when they trailed at halftime. And we recount the huge shots he and Conzett made late in regulation and during overtime.

Greenbrier (4-1) also got 11 points and an excellent floor game from senior Austin Canaday.

Donald Henley led Laney (3-1) with 25 points, and PJ Walker added 18.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Glenn Hills opens season with win over Greenbrier at Paine

Timmy Sellers (Glenn Hills) works in the post against Greenbrier

Senior Isaiah Bauman made a three pointer with less than 2 minutes remaining to give Glenn Hills a 53-51 lead over Greenbrier, and the Spartans opened the season with a 64-57 win at Paine College. Fellow senior Tim Williamson found Bauman for the big shot, and the transfer from Hephzibah recorded a team high 18 points in the win. Greenbier was led by senior Austin Canaday, who scored 22 points in the loss.

The Spartans darted out to a 24-12 advantage in the second quarter behind the dominant play in the paint of 6'8" senior Timmy Sellers, who finished with 12 points, all of which were recorded by the midway point of the third quarter.

Greenbrier's Canaday and Richard Crawford III led a second quarter comeback when Crawford (9 points) nailed 2 of his 3 three pointers and Canaday made multiple plays on both ends to create scoring opportunities. The teams traded leads throughout the second half before Bauman's three gave the Spartans the final advantage.

Glenn Hills (1-0) travels to Midland Valley Tuesday. Greenbrier (3-1) will face Laney at 6:15 at Paine.

Richmond cruises to 3-0 start and adds Stevens before Saturday’s showdown with undefeated Lakeside

Richmond senior DT Stevens

Coach Steve Nobles’s Musketeers topped Harlem 73-30 Saturday at Paine College and have started the season with 3 wins ahead of tonight’s showdown with Lakeside, which is also 3-0. Richmond can thank underclassmen like Isaiah Williams, Cobi Wood, and Vontrez Roberts for the fast start.

But Friday’s leading scorer, Senior DT Stevens, who played for the first time this year after finishing a standout season on the football field, looked to me like he was getting back into basketball shape just in time for tonight’s intriguing matchup. DT was an all region performer on last year’s regular season championship squad.

Stevens scored 15 points and his contributions will be important against Lakeside, which is averaging just under 90 points per game behind the sizzling scoring punch of Kalen Williams (junior) and Tyshun Briscoe (sophomore). Williams scored 74 points in a pair of wins last weekend.

Saturday’s 8:00 matchup between two undefeated teams may be the most exciting matchup we see this weekend at Paine. Or anywhere so far in this young season.

Evans gets in the win column with a victory over Josey at Paine

Size matters, and that simple point was proven Friday at Paine College in the first games of the Thanksgiving Classic. Earlier I documented the impact 6’8” Timmy Sellers had in Glenn Hills’ win over Greenbrier. Dylan Cardwell, Evans High’s 6’9” sophomore center, had a similar impact on his team’s 50-48 win over Josey.

Trailing 45-44 with less than 2 minutes remaining, Cardwell grabbed 2 defensive rebounds and made 2 impressive outlet passes that led to 2 uncontested layups by fellow sophomore Christian Chambers to give the Knights a 48-45 cushion that eventually led to their first win of the season.

Chambers led the Knights (1-2) with 17 points and junior Cameron Cabarrus added 13. Ricardez Williams scored 19 points to lead the Eagles (0-3).

Evans will face Statesboro Saturday at Paine at noon, and Josey will meet Harlem at 3:30.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Watson-Gayle pours in the threes and Benedict tops Augusta in Columbia

Jelani Watson-Gayle scored 18 points on 7-8 shooting (4-5 from three) in Benedict"a win.

Dimitri Cook's three point play with 3 seconds remaining broke a 79 all tie and proved to be enough to finish an 83-79 home win for Benedict College over non-conference rival Augusta University.

The Tigers were paced by former Georgia Bulldog Brandon Morris, who scored 23 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Cairo Brown added 21. The Jaguars were led by senior Tamyrik Fields (23 points and 8 rebounds), Tyvez Monroe (20 points), and Mikkel Kolstad (14 points and 9 assists).

Full Game Highlights

Benedict's fantastic freshman Jelani Watson-Gayle continued a hot start to his college career by scoring 18 points and making all but 1 shot. His inside hand layup past Augusta's Monroe with 2:31 remaining gave the Tigers a "cushion" (as Jelani called it in his post game interview below) that was enough to set up Cook's dramatic finish.

Augusta clawed back even after Watson-Gayle's bucket as Deane Williams (10 points) nailed a pair of free throws and put back a miss by Fields to tie the game at 79 with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Augusta's home opener is Saturday at 4:00 against Bowie State

Both teams play again Saturday. Augusta (2-2) hosts Bowie State at 4:00 in the season's first home game. The Tigers travel to SIAC opponent Lemoyne-Owen.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Laney tips off season and starts the journey from being a champion... to becoming a dynasty

Laney’s Lady Wildcats opened the 2017-18 season Monday with a 79-43 win over Greenbrier at Glenn Hills. Jaiden Hamilton scored 21 points and made 5 three pointers. De'sha Benjamin and Jhessyka Williams each added 18.

AugBball’s special student reporter Robert Drew was there to capture the highlights for the season debut of the prohibitive favorite to repeat as class AA’s state champion:

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t label a team as the favorite to win a state title on the first day of the season. But Laney is no ordinary team. Seniors De’sha Benjamin, who recently signed with Alabama, and Jhessyka Williams have won two state titles in three seasons under coach Otis Smart. Williams will almost certainly join Benjamin on the college basketball scene next season. When she does, we will look back at the four year run that current Clemson star Aliyah Collier (Laney ‘2015) started, and realize that every single player who played major minutes on those state title teams (whether the number of titles will stand at 2 or 3 after March) all will have become college basketball players.

To show proof, I give you the list of Lady Wildcats playing college basketball from Laney’s historic 3 year run:

Aliyah Collier (‘15) - Clemson
Gemiya Bowman (‘16) - Albany State
Jazmin Holmon (‘16) - Mississippi Valley State
Aubriana Bonner (‘17) - Alabama A&M
Jasmine Bartlett (‘17) - Savannah State
De’sha Benjamin (‘18) - Alabama

Monday night began coach Smart’s squad’s attempt to do what is unprecedented in our area: win 3 state titles in 4 seasons. Because this program is so exceptional and so extraordinary, I will continue to give the squad a label I wouldn’t give any other team before this season:* the prohibitive favorite to win a state title. Again.

And here’s another label the ladies from the Boulevard deserve without question: Dynasty.

Let’s enjoy the ride as the Lady Wildcats attempt to make area basketball history.

*I was careful to say I wouldn’t call any other team besides Laney a prohibitive favorite to win a state title before *this* particular season because, as the most die hard girls hoops fans know, there is one more local team that deserves the same label as Laney. But I’ll talk much more about that team when it officially tips off in the coming week.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lakeside scored nearly 200 in season's first 2 games behind lights out shooting of Kalen Williams, Tyshon Briscoe and company

Sophomore Tyshon Briscoe made 8 of 14 3 pt FGs in Lakeside's first 2 games.

The Panthers are probably still scoring points Sunday judging from the way Jeff Williams’s squad put the ball in the hoop in two dominating wins at the Wolfpack Tip-off Challenge. Lakeside averaged 97 ppg in victories over Augusta Christian (109-82) and Josey (84-77).

Junior star Kalen Williams posted eye popping numbers in the wins, scoring 34 and 40 points while making 28 of 39 field goal attempts.

The dynamo posted 30 points in the first half alone Saturday when Lakeside took a 57-31 lead over Josey at the break.

Tyshon Briscoe, a sophomore, and Tucker Gilbert, a 6’6” junior, also shined. Briscoe tallied 33 points in the two outings, making 8 of 14 threes. And Gilbert recorded 25 points and 23 rebounds.

Lakeside (2-0) will face Statesboro Friday (7:00 PM) and Richmond Saturday (8:00 PM) in a Thanksgiving tournament at Paine College. The Panthers are coming off the best season in school history (21-5 overall and 13-0 in region play). Many wonder if coach Williams's 2017-18 team can be as good as last year's region championship group. After seeing the game against Josey, I will be surprised if the new Lakeside Panthers don't prove themselves to be much improved.

Greenbrier poured in the threes against Augusta Christian and started the season 3-0

Richard Crawford makes the first of eight Greenbrier threes in a 4:30 time span.

The Wolfpack started fast with 3 wins in the season's first week, beginning with a 61-34 victory over Harlem, which was followed by back-to-back wins over #4 ranked (Georgia’s class AA) Josey (59-49) and Augusta Christian (79-52) in the Wolfpack Tip-off Challenge.

Leading returning scorers Austin Canaday and Richard Crawford III drained a combined 10 threes in the win against Augusta Christian, including 7 bombs in a 4:30 spurt in which the Wolfpack used a 27-0 run to put away the Lions.

Coach Casey Heckathorn was as impressed with the Wolfpack's three point barrage as I.

"That was ridiculous. Our kids couldn't even sit down on the bench. I've never been part of a run like that!" Heckathorn said in a message Sunday.

Canaday led the Wolfpack with 22 points against Augusta Christian and Crawford added 18. The duo has scored in double figures in each of the first three games. And Heckathorn has been pleased with the play of frontline players like junior Justin Stevens, who scored 13 points Saturday.

"Stevens is slowly emerging. He is crazy athletic! You need to see him in dunk contest at (this weekend's Thanksgiving tournament)," said Greenbrier's coach.

The Wolfpack will face two tough teams this weekend at the Thanksgiving tournament at Paine. Friday's (3:30 PM) opponent, Glenn Hills, was ranked #7 in class AA by the AJC. And Saturday's foe, Laney, claimed the #4 spot in the same poll.

Dunlop impresses and Augusta Christian hangs tough, for stretches, against Lakeside and Greenbrier

Nate Dunlop scored 65 points in 2 Wolfpack Challenge Tip-off games.

The Lions, led by 6’5” junior scoring phenom Nate Dunlop, competed fiercely and evenly against two impressive teams, Lakeside and Greenbrier, in both Wolfpack Tip-off Challenge games last weekend. At least until the 40 point mark in both games. Lakeside pulled away from a 41-40 stalemate to hang 109 on AC despite 39 points from Dunlop. And after Dunlop’s 3 point play with 2:31 remaining in the third against Greenbrier gave the Lions a 41-37 advantage Saturday night, the Wolfpack went on a 27-0 burst, and AC fell to 1-2.

Dunlop, who averaged 28 ppg last season, is more versatile than any area high school player I’ve seen here in quite some time. He is certainly the area’s top post player and that is not even his primary position. He works hard to get position, he has sure hands, he draws fouls and finishes through contact, and he grabs tough rebounds.

On the perimeter he has a pure stroke from distance, and he handles and passes the ball extremely well. Like his inside play, his play away from the basket is as good as anybody’s within short driving distance.

Nate scored 39 and 26 points Friday and Saturday, overshadowed only slightly by Lakeside’s Kalen Williams’s 74 in two wins. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Today's AugBball Schedule

Today’s local hoops schedule:

High school games on the AugBball radar:

Baldwin​ vs Johnson (Savannah at Evans
- According to the AJC​, Baldwin is the #4 team in GA’s class AAAA and Johnson is #4 in AAA

Laney vs Savannah at Evans
- Laney is #5 in AAA

Lakeside vs Josey at Greenbrier

Augusta Christian at Greenbrier

College games on the AugBball radar:

Charleston Southern​ at USC Upstate on ESPN2
- Preseason Big South Conference​ first team pick Christian Keeling will make his 2017-18 debut in this one!

Augusta University​ at West Georgia
- The Jaguars will aim to improve to 3-0. Coach Dip Metress’s squad has 5 players averaging double figures after 2 games.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Previews for the 3 HS tip-off tournament games featured Friday at AugBball: Baldwin-Flora, Lakeside-AC, and Greenbrier-Josey

Kalen Williams (left) and Nate Dunlop (right), 2 of the area's best, meet tonight at Greenbrier

For Friday’s live highlights and updates from Greenbrier’s Wolfpack Tip-off Challenge and Evans’ Hoopfest Tip-off, follow the following @AugBball channels:

@AugBball on Facebook
@AugBball on Instagram
@AugBball on Twitter

Friday at the Evans Hoopfest Tip-off

Baldwin vs AC Flora at Evans at 5:30

- Buck Harris’ Braves are the defending region champs and are ranked #4 in the AJC’s preseason class AAAA rankings as well as 4th on my preseason list of this area’s best teams.

Friday at Greenbrier’s Wolfpack Tip-Off Challenge

Lakeside vs Augusta Christian at Greenbrier at 7:00

- Lakeside went 21-6 in coach Jeff Williams’ first head coaching season, complete with a 13-0 league record and the school’s first ever region championship. The Panthers return junior star Kalen Williams and a good mix of returnees and newcomers.

- Augusta Christian is finally able to play Georgia’s public schools and 6’5” 210 pound junior guard Nate Dunlop is the area’s top returning scorer and probably the top player entering the season. Dunlop averaged 28 ppg and shot 38% from 3 last season.

Josey at Greenbrier at 8:30

- Josey clocked in as the #4 ranked class AAAA team in the AJC’s poll to go nicely with the Eagles’ final 4 finish last March. Rodriguez Daggett will lead the Eagles who I hope are eager to prove me wrong for not putting them on my preseason area top 10 list.

Austin Canaday: Sr, Greenbrier

- Greenbrier’s Austin Canaday and Richard Crawford make for a dangerous backcourt. The Wolfpack will try to improve to 2-0 tonight after beating Harlem soundly Wednesday.

Last season tipped off when Crawford and Laney’s Donald Henley Jr. dueled in Friday’s Wolfpack Challenge night cap game:

In a recent text interview, Greenbrier coach Casey Heckathorn told me about the great relationships and matchups that the Challenge has fostered over its 3 year history and the neat addition of Augusta Christian:

We love having both Laney and Josey and have great relationships and cross rivals with those schools now. We did draw Laney for another tournament so we’re happy for that.

With Laney out this year and the opportunity to include private schools we thought ACS was a great fit as their fan base and population is greatly based out of the lakeside and greenbrier zones. There’s a lot of interest in them proving themselves against public schools. We thought it was a good fit.

Sounds like a great fit and a great night of area high school hoops!