Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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

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

#5 Lakeside 74, Heritage 71

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

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

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

#1 Cross Creek 71, Richmond 57

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

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

Westminster 68, Augusta Prep 45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

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

Augusta Universtity 71, USC Aiken 69 (Men)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sherrill and Matthews have capable help. 

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#9 Aiken shoots to 4-0 in region play with road win over #7 North Augusta

Aiken's Devon Young faces the basket during Tuesday's win at North Augusta

#9 Aiken surged to a 4-0 start in a very difficult five team region with a 52-49 road win over rival North Augusta's (#7) Tuesday behind a brilliant defensive effort spearheaded by senior Devon Young, and key plays made down the stretch by sophomore Nazae Baltimore. Aiken improved to 17-4 overall while North Augusta fell to 16-4 overall and 2-2 in league play at the halfway point of the regular season region schedule.

As we discussed in our post game interview above, Young handled the challenge of guarding North Augusta's star guard Tez Collins, holding him to 11 points and making him work very hard over all 94 feet of the court.

With the scored tied at 49 and less than a minute remaining, Baltimore came up with an important blocked shot that led to Jordan Lytes being fouled and making a free throw to give Aiken a 50-49 lead. Then after Collins missed a pair of free throws, Baltimore put back his own miss on the other end to give the Hornets a three point lead that North Augusta could not overcome.

Lytes led Aiken with 10 points. North Augusta was paced by Darius Copeland's 20 points.

Aiken travels to rival South Aiken Friday in the Hornets' third consecutive road game. The Thoroughbreds, 3-1 in region play, have won three straight since losing the league opener at Aiken.

Henley lights it up and Laney edges closer to the top spot with key win at Butler

Laney's Donald Henley (25 points) is a veteran of local rivalries and important league games.

Junior Donald Henley scored 25 points to lead Laney to a 67-64 overtime win at Butler that moves the Wildcats into a tie for second place in class AA, region 4. The road win over rival Butler is Laney's second straight over a region power after the Wildcats defeated Glenn Hills 59-55 Friday. The pair of key wins came immediately after losses to Josey and Westside appeared to be sending the Wildcats towards the dreaded fourth or fifth place position in the top heavy 8 team region. Laney now trails Butler, the region leader, by a single game in the standings.

The reason it is important to finish in the region's top three before the coming region tournament is because the top four tournament teams advance to the state tournament in a region that features five teams that have spent time in Georgia's top ten rankings. So the 4 vs 5 first round region tournament game will send a state title contender home early.

Glenn Hills (4 losses) and Josey (4 losses) play each other again, and Westside (3 losses) still has to play Josey, Glenn Hills, and Butler. So Laney, which has 3 losses but has only one regular season game left (against Josey) against the powers listed above, will control its own destiny not only in securing a top three spot, but in making a run at the leader Butler in the regular season's final days.

Laney junior D'juan Griffin scored 12 points Tuesday to add to Henley's 25. Four Butler players scored in double figures: Deandre Barton (15), Will Lambert (15), Keith Littles (12), and Drez McBride (10).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday's AugBball Updates: Laney and Aiken win on the Road at Butler and North Augusta; Top Ranked Girls teams Continue their Dominance; and much more to come

Donald Little scored 25 points in Laney's 67-64 overtime win over region leader Butler. 

#4 Laney 67, #5 Butler 64 (Overtime)
Class AA, Region 4

Laney's junior point guard Donald Henley, a veteran of local rivalries and important league games after playing a major role in the Wildcats' success since early in his freshman season, led all scorers with 25 points as Laney defeated Butler, at Butler, to move to within one game of the region leading Bulldogs. Much more reporting and some more video clips are to come. But this is what we've shared so far:

#9 Aiken 52, #7 North Augusta 49
South Carolina Class AAAA, Region 4

The Hornets improved to 4-0 in region play behind a stingy team defensive effort, including particularly impressive defensive work by Devon Young, and a few key plays late by 6'5" sophomore Nazae Baltimore. I'll have a full report soon from the AugBball Game of the Night, which was highly entertaining:

Georgia and South Carolina's Best Girls Teams Continued their Uninterrupted Dominance

I will post more complete reports soon from the wins by Georgia's class AA #1 team, Laney, and South Carolina's class AAAA's top team, North Augusta. But for now, I'll say that both teams won their 19th straight games Tuesday!

And here I will share what I posted after watching Laney look as dominant as any team I can remember in their first four minutes against Butler:

And while Aiken put up a fight, the Lady Yellow Jackets of North Augusta improved to 19-0 with a win as well:

So stay tuned for the full reports from Tuesday's games at North Augusta and Butler and Augusta Prep. And here is the full list, via WRDW's Kevin Faigle, of high school scores from Tuesday, including some more thoughts from me.*

*To which I would add the fact that class AAAAAA #8 Lakeside's boys, and class A #5 Aquinas remained undefeated in region play, as did class AAAA #2 Cross Creek's girls and class AAAAAA #5 Grovetown.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Aiken visits North Augusta in Tuesday's AugBball Game of the Night Double-Header; Bonus Coverage at Butler-Laney and Augusta Prep-John Milledge

Devon Young (left) of Aiken and Tez Collins (right) of North Augusta

AugBball Game of the Night Double-Header (Part 2)
#9 Aiken (16-4, 3-0) at #7 North Augusta (16-3, 2-1)
South Carolina Class AAAA, Region 4

Aiken enters the game as the region's leader after earning home wins over South Aiken and Midland Valley:

Tuesday night's game gives the Hornets the chance to separate themselves from the pack as they are currently being tracked closely by both the Yellow Jackets and South Aiken (11-5, 2-1).

North Augusta looked especially sharp in the two games I've seen, first against Northwood in the championship of the holiday tournament hosted by the Yellow Jackets, and next against Greenbrier in non region action:

The game will have post season implications because 4 of the 5 region teams will advance to the state tournament with the teams' 8 game regular season records deciding the seeding and also which two teams will get to host one or more state tournament games. South Carolina schools do not play region tournaments.

AugBball Game of the Night Double-Header (Part 1)
Aiken (11-7, 2-1) at #1 North Augusta (18-0, 3-0)
South Carolina Class AAAA, Region 4

The Lady Yellow Jackets are the overwhelming favorite. They have been in almost every game this season. In addition to chasing a state title, North Augusta also has a very realistic opportunity to post an undefeated record this season. If they do, they will have earned it, especially after knocking off Laney (Georgia class AA's #1 team) and sweeping pairs of games over Cross Creek (Georgia's class AAAA's #2 team) and Grovetown (Georgia's class AAAAAA's #5 team):

AugBball Bonus Coverage
#4 Laney (4-3) at #5 Butler (7-1) Boys
Class AA, Region 4

The Bulldogs, 7-1 in region play, can essentially wrap up at least a share of first place in the regular season region standings because such an outcome would give Laney its fourth loss. Glenn Hills and Josey have already picked up their fourth losses, and Westside has dropped three. Butler has been the most consistent team in what may be the area's most competitive region. The Bulldogs grabbed a pair of important wins last week, including an overtime victory over rival Glenn Hills:

AugBball Bonus Coverage
#1 Laney at Butler (Girls)
Class AA, Region 4

Laney's only loss came on the season's second day in a close game against North Augusta. And last season's Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year De'sha Benjamin didn't play that night. Since her return, the Lady Wildcats have not been challenged. Tuesday's game may be no different from every other Laney game since November:

AugBball Bonus Coverage
John Milledge (3-1 in region) at Augusta Prep (3-1 in region)

Halfway through the region schedule, Augusta Prep, John Milledge, and Westminster (3-1) have entered what seems like a three team race. Augusta Prep will try to avenge an earlier loss at Milledge and build on last Tuesday's win over rival Westminster (highlights below). First place in the region will be at stake:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Peach Belt's Eastern Division Heats Up: Augusta and Aiken's Men and the Lady Pacers All Crowd the Top of the Standings after Saturday's Thrillers

Freshman Kwajelin Farrar scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in USC Aiken's win.

USC Aiken 83, UNC Pembroke 77 (Overtime)

The Lady Pacers (11-8, 7-3) moved in to the first place position in the Peach Belt Conference eastern division standings after Saturday's home win. The Braves fell to 12-5 overall and 7-3 in conference play. Here's how the game was decided:

Farrar is a graduate of Grovetown High and Coach, who scored 16 points and recorded 10 rebounds, attended North Augusta High School.

More footage from the end of regulation and the first part of overtime:

Men's Game
USC Aiken 83, UNC Pembroke 81

Not to be outdone by Aupont, Jalin Barnes made sure the excitement at the end of the men's game matched that which was felt at the end of the women's contest:

Aiken (13-4) won its seventh straight game to improve to 7-3 in conference play, one game behind rival Augusta in the eastern division standings. The Pacers trailed by as many as 11 points and took their first lead after 34 minutes of action when Austin Grimes, one of five Pacers who scored in double figures, made a bank shot to give Aiken a 71-69 lead:

Henry Bolton III (17 points), Mark Matthews (15), Barnes (15), Christian Nobles (14), and Grimes (13) led Aiken in scoring. They all made their share of impressive shots in the clips below:

Augusta University 85, Francis Marion 80

Augusta (15-3, 8-2) kept its spot at the top of the Peach Belt eastern division standings, winning its eighth straight game, this time at Francis Marion.

Senior All American Keshun Sherrill scored only 5 first half points. But Tyvez Monroe (19 points) and Deane Williams (15) filled in any scoring void nicely as Augusta was able to make 49% of its field goals and 40% of its three pointers.

With Sherrill sitting the first part of the second half with three fouls, junior Tamyrik Fields scored 8 of his 10 points during a three minute stretch when Augusta used a 14-4 run to turn a 50-43 Francis Marion lead into a 57-54 Augusta advantage.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Full Game Highlights from Aquinas-Lincoln County and updates from region games

#5 Aquinas 64, Lincoln County 33 (Class A)

Aquinas's Trent Bowdre shoots over Lincoln County's Ahmad Rand Friday.

Aquinas's Tre Gomillion scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as the Irish bounced Lincoln County 64-33 Friday to improve to 15-1 overall and 12-0 in region play. Jelani Shakir scored 15 points and tallied 7 steals.

Gomillion made a floater right before the first quarter buzzer sounded to give Aquinas a 13-11 lead. The Irish held Lincoln County to 7 points during the next two quarters as Aquinas built a 50-20 lead late in the third quarter. Here are the full game highlights:

Baldwin 52, Richmond 31 (Class AAAA)

Brenden Robertson scored 15 points in Baldwin's win over Richmond.

North Augusta Lady Yellow Jackets 40, Midland Valley 29 (South Carolina Class AAAA)

Midland Valley fell to 2-1 after Friday's loss.

#6 Grovetown Lady Warriors 69, Evans 63 (Class AAAAAA)

Destiny Marshall scored 30 points, Savannah Giles added 18, and Ayanna Collins chipped in 15 as Grovetown improved to 15-6 overall and 6-0 in region play.

Aquinas Lady Fighting Irish 51, Lincoln County 28

North Augusta 63, Midland Valley 53 (Overtime) - South Carolina Class AAAA 

Tez Collins led North Augusta with 20 points.

Mike Brown (Midland Valley) scored 13 points in Friday's loss.

Augusta University and USC Aiken highlight a Saturday of red hot Peach eastern division hoops

Augusta will try to stay at the top of the standings while Aiken and Pembroke will look to make a move.

Area colleges Augusta University and USC Aiken highlight a Saturday of pivotal Peach Belt Conference eastern division basketball as Augusta travels to Francis Marion and Aiken hosts UNC Pembroke with the top spots in the standings in play for three of the schools' men's and women's teams:

1:30 P.M.
Augusta Lady Jaguars (9-6, 4-5) at Francis Marion (7-10, 2-6)

Augusta has won 4 of its last 5 games, including Wednesday's 77-71 victory over Flagler. Sophomore Mallory Myers, a graduate of Greenbrier High, gave Augusta its first lead (72-71) after scoring on back-to-back drives in the game's closing minutes, capping a Jaguar comeback from a double digit second half deficit.

3:30 P.M.
Augusta (14-3, 7-2) at Francis Marion (6-10, 2-6)

Augusta topped Flagler 84-49 Wednesday at home to win its seventh straight game. Senior All American guard Keshun Sherrill led the way with 20 points, and sophomore Tyvez Monroe added 16 on 4-5 shooting from deep.

During Augusta's streak, which began at Pembroke on January 2, the Jaguars have beaten opponents by an average margin of 18 points per game. But comparing the point differential in January's four road games (6 points per game) to the month's four home games (27 points per contest) indicates that the coming two game road trip (at Francis Marion Saturday and at Armstrong State Wednesday) will be much more difficult than this week's home stand, in which Augusta drilled Young Harris by 32 and Flagler by 35.


5:30 P.M.
UNC Pembroke (12-4, 7-2) at USC Aiken Lady Pacers (10-8, 6-3)

The east's top spot is on the line when Pembroke visits the Lady Pacers.

The Lady Pacers only Wednesday had their 6 game winning streak snapped.

7:30 P.M.
UNC Pembroke (14-4, 7-2) at USC Aiken Pacers (12-4, 6-3)

Aiken, winners of six straight, was led by Richmond Academy graduate Christian Nobles in the Pacers' most recent win:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Augusta routes Flagler; Sherrill passes 2,000 points

*A scroll down the top of the timelines of the @AugBball Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts will show video highlights, live updates, and pictures from Augusta's win over Flagler, including video footage of Keshun Sherrill being honored for scoring his 2,000th point and an interview with Sherrill.

Augusta University topped Flagler 84-49 Wednesday at home to win its seventh straight game. Senior All American guard Keshun Sherrill led the way with 20 points, and sophomore Tyvez Monroe added 16 on 4-5 shooting from deep. Sherrill and Monroe each scored 13 points during the first half, which Augusta started with a 19-0 game opening run. The Jaguars would hold the Saints to only 20 first half points, taking a 36-20 halftime lead that ballooned from that point.

Sherrill made a long jumper in the second half to score his 2,000th career point. The only other Peach Belt Conference player to score that many points was former Jaguar Ben Madgen, Augusta's all time scoring leader.

During Augusta's streak, which began at Pembroke on January 2, the Jaguars have beaten opponents by an average margin of 18 points per game. But comparing the point differential in January's four road games (6 points per game) to the month's four home games (27 points per contest) indicates that the coming two game road trip (at Francis Marion Saturday and at Armstrong State Wednesday) will be much more difficult than this week's home stand, in which Augusta drilled Young Harris by 32 and Flagler by 35.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Butler's return home is triumphant; overtime win over Glenn Hills puts Bulldogs two games ahead of the region pack

Deandre Barton and Butler sprinted to a 2 game lead over the class AA region 4 pack Tuesday. 

Butler made the most of the first region game in its own gym, defeating rival Glenn Hills 67-60 in overtime to improve to 7-1 in league play. With the win, Butler's grip on the first place spot in the class AA, region 4 standings tightens because Glenn Hills, Josey, Laney, and Westside, the teams directly behind Butler, now all have three losses. All 6 six of the Bulldogs remaining region games will be at home, beginning Friday with Josey, the only team to beat Butler so far in league play.

Keith Littles's 17 points led four Bulldogs who scored in double figures. Littles made a three pointer with 6:23 remaining in the game to give Butler its largest lead (47-42) of the second half to that point. Then after teammate Will Lambert made a free throw with 3.6 seconds remaining to tie the game at 56 and force overtime, Littles made two field goals to cap a 6-0 Butler run to start the extra period that put the Bulldogs ahead for good.

The game couldn't have been closer as neither team led by more than 6 points during the second half despite 4 distinct spurts, each of which seemed to swing the momentum in favor of the team on the roll.

Timmy Sellers was dominant in the paint again in Tuesday's loss to Butler.

Glenn Hills took a 31-25 lead minutes into the third quarter when 6'8" junior center Timmy Sellers, who led his team with 12 points, capped a 7-0 Spartan run with a two-handed tip dunk in transition. Butler responded with a 22-11 sprint of its own, which was accented by a striding two-handed slam by Deandre Barton that gave the Bulldogs their first lead (38-37) of the second half with a minute left in the third quarter.

Butler's Keith Littles led all scorers with 17 points.

After Littles's three gave Butler a 47-42 lead, the Spartans responded with a 13-6 dash that included a nifty play by Sellers who weaved through traffic with with impressive ball handling skills before giving it up to CJ Bowers, who quickly gave it back to Sellers for a two handed dunk that shook the gym and cut Butler's lead to 1 at 47-46.

The final run was Butler's. Christian Robinson made a jumper with 12 seconds remaining to tie the game at 55. After Lambert made the free throw to force overtime and Drez McBride and Littles began the extra period with a combined six straight points, Glenn Hills would have no answer.

Barton scored 14 points and McBride and Robinson added 10 each for Butler.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Don Coleman helps preview Tuesday's AugBball Game of the Night between rivals Butler and Glenn Hills

Butler hosts Glenn Hills tonight in the first game of the second half of the region schedule with the top position in class AA, region 4 on the line. This rivalry game has not meant as much as it does Tuesday since the teams met in 2013 when Don Coleman, then a sophomore, scored 39 points and handed Glenn Hills its first loss of the season after the Spartans started 17-0.

Coleman joined me on the phone Monday (interview above) and talked first about his recent play at California University, where he is making a huge impact in his sophomore season. We then talked about Butler's current team, Tuesday's rivalry game against Glenn Hills, and even which high school players Coleman believes are the best in our area (hint: they play for Butler).

Here are videos to go with the conversation above:

Coleman scores a career high 15 points against #4 UCLA

Coleman scores 12 against USC in a recent win:

The results when the Bulldogs and Spartans met in December:

Flashback to the last time Coleman played against Glenn Hills as a senior at Butler:

Flashback to then Butler sophomore Coleman's 39 point outburst against Glenn Hills, which was 17-0 at the time.

Augusta sweeps Young Harris; Men dominant in 90-58 blitz

5'9" Keshun Sherrill skies above 6'3" Ben Waterhouse to score 3 of his team high 16. 

All eleven Augusta University players scored in the Jaguars' 90-58 blowout win over Young Harris at home Monday. Keshun Sherrill (16), Kyle Doyle (15), Tyvez Monroe (14) and Aaron Byrd (12) all scored in double figures. The win was Augusta's sixth straight and the Jaguars (13-3, 6-2) continue their stay at the top of the Peach Belt Conference's eastern division standings. Young Harris, which entered the game as the western division leader, dropped its second straight to fall to 11-5 overall and 5-2 in league play.

Augusta dominated the three major categories of the game, making 50% of its field goals and 42% from deep; holding a talented Young Harris offense 25 points below its per game average; and rebounding 14 of its 33 missed field goals.

2017 has started in the best possible way for the Jags, whose winning streak began January 2nd with an 80-78 win against eastern division rival UNC Pembroke. Augusta has won three home games and three road games during the stretch. The Jaguars host Flagler (7-7, 2-6) Wednesday at 7:30 P.M.

Belcher's string of Fourth Quarter Points put Lady Jags over the top

Breonna O'Conner recorded 13 points and 7 steals Monday

Augusta's Lady Jaguars trailed Young Harris for less than 30 seconds before Joshlyn Belcher made back-to-back jumpers to erase a 40-39 fourth quarter deficit and put the Jags ahead 43-39 with 7:29 remaining. Augusta would not trail again, and Belcher made two free throws to give the Jaguars their final points and a 51-48 win, their third in four games.

All 7 of Belcher's points came in the final quarter. Teammate Breonna O'Conner led the Lady Jaguars with 13 points and 7 steals. Augusta (8-6, 3-5) hosts Flagler (2-13, 0-7) Wednesday at 5:30.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Josey tops Laney in overtime at Paine College

Javen Whitehead (left) and Dominique Hurst (right).

Dominique Hurst
blocked Donald Henley's shot to force overtime, and he scored the first two field goals of the extra period to propel Josey to a 45-40 region win Saturday at Paine College. Hurst and teammate Javen Whitehead showed how a game can be dominated on the defensive end, blocking countless shots as the Eagles held their rival to 2 points in the extra period and only 5 points in the third quarter, when Josey built a 33-24 lead.

Laney closed the game on an 11-2 run to force the extra session, but the Wildcats never found an offensive rhythm. No Laney player reached double figures in scoring. Whitehead and Jonathan Butler led Josey with 12 each. Hurst added 8.

Javen Whitehead prepares to swing at PJ Walker's layup attempt Saturday.

Josey improved to 4-3 in region play, and the win keeps the Eagles within two games of league leader Butler (6-1). Between those teams are Laney (5-2), Glenn Hills (5-2), and Westside (4-3). Class AA, region 4 has at times featured five teams in the state's top 10 rankings. At the halfway point of the league schedule, the race is still wide open. And Tuesday's slate of games will be important because Butler will host Glenn Hills and Westside will host Laney. Josey will face Harlem.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday's AugBball College Hoops Viewing Guide:

Picture: Don Coleman (Cal) celebrating with teammate Ivan Rabb.

Saturday's AugBball College Hoops Viewing Guide:

Virginia Tech vs Notre Dame at 2:00 PM:


Ahmed Hill is scoring 14 ppg for the 13-3 Hokies. The Aquinas graduate scored 13 in Tuesday's win over Syracuse.

Augusta University at Georgia College at 3:30 PM:


The Jaguars have won 4 straight and they are a game ahead of rival USC Aiken in the Peach Belt Conference's eastern division standings. Keshun Sherrill is averaging 25 ppg and another Aquinas graduate, Tamyrik Fields, has scored 12 per game during Augusta's winning streak.

Queens at Tusculuma at 4 PM:


The undefeated Royals are Division II's 3rd ranked team. Freshman Daniel Carr, who led Midland Valley to two straight state title games, scored the final 4 points in last week's 103-101 overtime win over SAC rival and fellow national power Lincoln Memorial.

Cal Men's Basketball vs Washington St at 4 PM (ET):


Don Coleman is averaging 11 points in 21 minutes of action during the past three games and the Bears have won two straight conference games.

USMMA at St Joseph's 4PM


Leading scorer Matt Miller, anAugusta native, sat the last two games with an injury. He'll play today and the Mariners will need his help. Miller averages over 19 points per game.

Charleston Southern vs UNC Asheville at 5:30 PM:


Laney graduate Christian Keeling scored 33 points in the Bucs' win Wednesday over Radford. Keeling leads CSU in scoring (16 ppg) and rebounding (6 rpg).

USC Aiken vs Georgia Southwestern at 7:30


Richmond graduate Christian Nobles has averaged 14 ppg during Aiken's current three game winning streak.

Friday, January 13, 2017

#10 Aiken handles Midland Valley to improve to 2-0 in region play

Aiken's Devon Young sealed the Hornets' win with a fourth quarter dunk.

With less than 4 minutes remaining, Devon Young assisted on buckets by Jordan Lytes and Na'Zae Baltimore, breaking a 52-52 tie and putting Aiken ahead of region rival Midland Valley by 4. The Mustangs would get no closer and Young removed all doubt about the outcome with a striding two-handed dunk that sealed the Hornets' 64-57 home win.

Kevin Williamson, a 6'3" wing who does a little of everything, led all scorers with 20 points for #10 ranked Aiken, which improved to 14-4 overall and 2-0 in South Carolina class AAAA, region 4 competition.

Young's assists answered Taylor Wade's jump shot that tied the game at 52 with 3:48 remaining. Wade and teammate Mike Brown led the way for Midland Valley with 14 points each. The Mustangs took a 15-6 first quarter as the two time state tournament finalist which won South Carolina's title in 2015 looked determined to follow Tuesday's win at Airport with another region win on the road Friday.

Aiken's Kevin Williamson tries to beat Midland Valley's Taylor Wade.

Wade buried his first three pointer and subsequently drew a charge against Young, his former Midland Valley teammate who transferred to Aiken after last school year, on two of the game's early possessions.

Williamson, Young, Na'Zae Baltimore (6'4" sophomore), and Isaiah Odom (6'4" senior) helped Aiken get back into the game quickly with tough defense and a relentless attack on the offensive and defensive glass. The Hornets tied the game 30 seconds before halftime, although Wade made a three with time running out in the second quarter to give the Mustangs a 35-32 advantage at the break. Midland Valley scored the third quarter's first 4 points and led most of the way after that.

Robinson leads Richmond into region road game against #4 Cross Creek

Richmond's Jasmine Robinson can take on a whole unit if needed.

Richmond (9-7, 3-0) at #4 Cross Creek (14-4, 3-0)

Class AAAA, Region 3

#3 Cross Creek has dominated class AAAA, region 3 action, but first mention in this preview of undefeated (in region) opponents has to go to Richmond's Jasmine Robinson. The Augusta Chronicle Player of the Week and Troy signee scored 50 points in the Lady Musketeers' 62-56 overtime win over Hephzibah Tuesday.

Robinson and the Lady Musketeers got things done in different ways the last two times I saw them play. First Robinson led Richmond to a 30-18 halftime lead over Aiken in December, scoring 23 first half points before finishing with 35 in her team's 56-46 win. Robinson, who has posted enormous numbers against the town's best teams, talked that night about the importance of playing against great competition:

Robinson's leadership had to have an impact in Richmond's region schedule opening win over Baldwin, when three Lady Musketeers finished in double figures:

But even heroics may not be able to stop #4 Cross Creek

It will take a lot to stop Nya Daniels and #4 Cross Creek.

Since surviving nicely an incredibly pre-conference schedule, #4 Cross Creek has looked unstoppable. The Lady Razorbacks, led by Memphis signee Alana Davis, who is supported by a complete surrounding cast (shown below), have won their three region games by an average margin of 26 points! And all three opponents were state tournament teams a season ago.

If any player could engineer an upset at Cross Creek, it's Jasmine Robinson. But she and her teammates have a lot of work to do to make that happen.

Don't forget...

Follow AugBball for highlights and updates from the Midland Valley at #10 Aiken AugBball Game of the Night...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

#10 Aiken hosts Midland Valley in Friday's AugBball Game of the Night

Aiken's Devon Young's former team, Midland Valley, will visit his new home Friday in region action.

AugBball Game of the Night

Midland Valley (6-9, 1-0) at #10 Aiken (13-4, 1-0)

SC Class AAAA, Region 4

Aiken quickly convinced me Tuesday in their region opening 74-59 win over rival South Aiken that the Hornets are for real. The South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association was quicker to catch on, including #10 Aiken with #8 North Augusta in its weekly rankings:

Friday's visitor was the area's most successful team the past two seasons, a time in which Midland Valley earned a state title in 2015 and finished as the state's runner up last season. The Mustangs topped Airport 59-57 on the road Tuesday in their region opener. Taylor Wade, a key contributor during Midland Valley's championship runs, scored 20 in that game. Wade averages 15 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds per game this season.

SC Class AAAA, Region 4 Standings. Source Maxpeps.com

Although Wade is still lighting it up for the Mustangs, two key players  from the past championship runs have moved on. Daniel Carr, a freshman for NCAA Division II's third ranked Queens University (15-0, 9-0), has stayed in winning form as the former Mustang made the final two field goals to clinch a 103-101 overtime Queens win over SAC rival Lincoln Memorial Monday.

The other notable loss from last season's Midland Valley team was Devon Young, a 6'3" senior who is a force in the post now... at Aiken! Young scored 14 points, many in dominating fashion, in Tuesday's win over South Aiken:

The student section was on fire and the gym was jam packed for Aiken's home opener Tuesday. I think Friday will be the same. So stay tuned to @AugBball for highlights and updates from the Game of the Night!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Christian Keeling scores career high 33 points; leads Charleston Southern to win over Radford

Here's Christian Keeling leaving the court at Laney for the final time his senior season.

Laney graduate Christian Keeling scored a career high 33 points to lead Charleston Southern to its first Big South Conference win, a 70-64 decision over Radford Wednesday. The Buccaneers improved to 5-11 overall and 1-4 in league play. Keeling made 11 of 19 field goals, including 3 of 6 from three point land. And he made all 8 of his free throws. Keeling also grabbed 6 rebounds in 33 minutes of action.

Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh had high praise for Keeling in the post game interview on the game's live webcast: "He's a special player. He's a money player." Coach Radebaugh later added that "if we get Christian Keeling to the free throw line, we can win some ball games."

Keeling was named by the Augusta Chronicle as our area's Co-Player of the Year, along with teammate Zep Jasper, last season when the pair led Laney to a 26-3 record. He leads Charleston Southern in scoring (14 points per game) and rebounding (6 per game). Twice this season he has been named the Big South Conference Freshman of the Week.