Thursday, January 5, 2017

The class AA state title road goes through Augusta, and Josey's visit to Glenn Hills is the next stop

Freshman John Whitehead has made an immediate impact for Glenn Hills.

Class AA's #2 ranked team Josey and Glenn Hills, opponents in Friday's AugBball Game of the Night, have spent most of the season, along with region rivals Butler and #9 Laney, at or near the top of the most widely viewed statewide rankings lists (here and here). The experts seem to agree with me that the class AA state championship road will go through Augusta.

Westside's Justin Phillips scored 20 points in Westside's win over Josey Tuesday.

The four teams mentioned and Westside, which moved into a three way tie for first place in the region 4 standings after Tuesday's 62-56 win over Josey, are all capable of making a deep run through the post season. When Josey visits Glenn Hills Friday, the Eagles (12-3, 2-2) and the Spartans (10-5, 2-2) will battle to stay as close as possible to the 3 teams at the top of the region standings:

Butler: 3-1 (@ Jefferson County Friday)
Laney: 3-1 (@ Harlem Friday)
Westside: 3-1 (@ Screven County Friday) 
Josey: 2-2
Glenn Hills: 2-2

Friday's region matchup will be a rematch of Josey and Glenn Hills's recent holiday tournament semifinal round double overtime thriller, which the Eagles won 59-56 after John Williams forced overtime with a buzzer beating three, and fellow senior Dominique Hurst iced the game with four points in the final minute of the second extra period.

Freshman John Whitehead has played fantastic basketball this season

Josey stormed back from a double digit second half deficit to catch Glenn Hills. The loss overshadowed another fine performance by freshman John Whitehead. The 6'5" wing scored 13 points, sinking 3 of 5 threes, including two pivotal bombs during overtime which both appeared to put away the Eagles.

The game against Josey was the third straight that I watched Whitehead bury crucial threes, including a triple off the dribble against Laney to tie the game at 53 and force overtime in a league matchup on the road in December.

Whitehead, who scores 10 points and grabs four rebounds per game, is one of three Spartans averaging double figures in scoring. 6'8" junior Timmy Sellers averages 11 points and 8 rebounds, and CJ Bowers leads the team in scoring with 12 points per game.

Josey has won with a balanced scoring attack

Four Josey seniors who have played major minutes for three seasons who average double figures in points. Javen Whitehead (10 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 bpg), the brother of opponent John, and Hurst (10 ppg, 5 rpg) combine to bring a mix of athleticism and aggressiveness that is rivaled locally only by Butler's Deandre Barton and Will Lambert. And Williams (10 ppg) and Jonathan Butler (13 ppg) add scoring.

Despite a recent 5 game skid, Butler, led by Deandre McBride, remains at the top of the region standings.

Friday's Game of the Night promises much. The region standings, the state rankings, but most of all the local rivalry, promise to make for fireworks.  I'll see you in the gym!

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