Friday, February 21, 2020

Augusta is riding a 7 game winning streak ahead of Saturday's homecoming game, which begins a three game home stand to close the regular season

Augusta's Darren Lucas-White poses after the release.

Augusta notched its seventh consecutive victory Wednesday, propelled by a 27-4 run to open the second half that sent the Jaguars home from Dahlonega with a 92-65 win over Peach Belt Conference foe North Georgia. Rafael Monteiro (26 points and 13 rebounds), Miguel Arnold (23 points on 5-7 three point shooting) and Tyshaun Crawford (13 points and 10 rebounds) led a nearly flawless offensive performance for Augusta, which converted an eye popping 56% of its field goals and 58% of its long range attempts. The showing on the other end was equally impressive as the Jaguars held North Georgia to 36% field goal and 17% three point shooting, while outrebounding the Nighthawks 46-25.

The win came hours after the first NCAA Division II regional rankings were released. Augusta currently holds the #5 position in the Southeast Region, which consists of teams from the Peach Belt, the South Atlantic Conference and the Conference Carolinas. The Southeast Region is one of eight nationwide. The top eight teams in the final rankings will be rewarded with a trip to the NCAA tournament when the field is announced on March 8. Current Peach Belt Conference leader UNC Pembroke clocked in at #2, while PBC foe Lander occupies #6 spot, and USC Aiken stands at #8.

Augusta (18-7, 13-4) will finish the regular season with three home games in eight days, beginning with Saturday's (February 22) homecoming contest against Young Harris (7-18, 5-12), which will tip off at 3:30, immediately following the 1:30 women's game. On Wednesday (7:30 tip-off) USC Aiken (17-10, 13-4) will visit Christenberry Fieldhouse, and next Saturday (February 29) Augusta will play Georgia College (11-14, 8-9) in the regular season finale.

Augusta's recent winning streak has put into focus an impressive statistical performance this season by the team, which, alongside USC Aiken stands one game behind league leader UNC Pembroke (20-5, 14-3). The Jaguars lead the Peach Belt in offensive field goal percentage (50.6%) and three point shooting (40%). They also top the conference in both defensive field goal percentage (43.4%) and defensive three point shooting percentage (34%).

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Full schedules and previews for this week's boys and girls region tournaments at Evans, Cross Creek, Laney and Hancock Central

Makhi Climons (Cross Creek)

South Carolina's teams won't finish their regular season until Valentine's Day weekend, and the next step in SC, as always, will be the state playoffs because South Carolina seeds its state tournament with regular season region standings, skipping region tournaments altogether.

But for the area's Georgia based teams, the regular season has ended, which means this week's region tournaments will decide which teams will advance to the GHSA state playoffs, what seed they will earn, and, unfortunately, which teams will see their season end over the next few days. Here are the details for the tournaments we will be watching closely:

Class 6A, Region 3

Grovetown's boys and girls teams captured the regular season championship, and with that the top seed and a bye into Thursday's semifinal round at this week's tournament at Evans. The second seed, which is Evans on the boys side and Heritage for the girls, will also bypass Tuesday's quarterfinal round. As is the case in all of the regions, the top four teams are guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs, but these four teams still have plenty of work to do this week because the region tournament champion and runner up will start their state playoff run at home, while the third and fourth place finishers will hit the road come playoff time.

Zy Wright (Grovetown)

Region tournament brackets at Evans



Grovetown (9-1 in region), Evans (8-2) and Heritage (4-6) can all be seen as equally likely to leave Evans with the tournament crown and the region's top seed in the state playoffs because every time those teams met head-to-head during the regular season the game was a toss up. But don't count out the bottom three teams because Lakeside (3-7) and Alcovy (4-6), which will play for a semifinal birth tonight, both have the talent to come out on top on any given night. And Greenbrier (2-8) has already beaten Heritage one time this year, which should give the Wolfpack confidence going into today's quarterfinal matchup.



Like his head coaching counterpart Darren Douglas at the school on the boys side, Grovetown's George Dukes claimed a regular season region championship in his first season at the helm. Grovetown's only loss in league play came against Greenbrier (6-4), which, like Grovetown, has a roster full of promising young players.

Class 4A, Region 3

Tournament host Cross Creek will supply the field's top seed on both the boys and girls sides after an 8 game regular season schedule in which Cross Creek, Burke County and Baldwin all threatened to take the top seeds. On the boys side, the Razorbacks won the regular season championship outright by posting a 7-1 record, while the girls field actually ended in a three way tie that tilted in the Lady Razorbacks' favor after a coin flip tie breaker.

Cross Creek's Jenna Wilbon (50), Jordyn Dorsey (21) and Burke County's Tyasia Freeman (40)

Class 4A, Region 3 tournament schedule

*Play-In Game
Feb 4th Tuesday @Thomson

6:00 ARC Vs. Thomson (Girls)
7:30 ARC Vs. Thomson (Boys)

Feb 6th Thursday @Cross Creek - 

4:00PM - #3 Burke County Vs. #2 Baldwin (Girls) 
5:30pm - #3 Burke County Vs. #2 Baldwin (Boys)
7:00PM - #4 (Thomson/ARC) Vs. Cross Creek (Girls)
8:30PM - #4 (Thomson/ARC) Vs. Cross Creek (Boys)

Feb 7th Friday @Cross Creek

4:00pm Consolation Girl's Game
5:30pm Consolation Boy's Game
7:00pm Championship Girl's Game
8:30pm Championship Boy's Game

Class 2A, Region 4

Rocky Drayton (Laney)

On the boys side, Glenn Hills (14-2) and Butler (13-3) claimed the #1 and #2 seeds, and along with that two of the four semifinal spots in Thursday's round. Again, that means automatic state playoff tickets. But those same two teams finished last regular season in those same two positions a year ago, only to finish third (Butler) and fourth (Glenn Hills) last year before they both lost in the first round of the state playoffs. Six or seven different teams have the capability to get hot and win this tournament this week!

On the girls side, Laney (16-0) will once again be the favorites, but both Butler (12-4) and Josey (14-2), which took Laney to overtime in last season's region tournament championship game, have the ability to cause 2020 to be the first time Laney does not win a region tournament championship in what seems like, and probably is, more than a decade, if not two.

Class 1A, Region 7 (Girls)

Tuesday (2/4)
At Stratford Academy

#2E Lake Oconee Academy vs. #3W First Presbyterian Day, 4:00
#1W Stratford Academy vs. #4E Aquinas, 5:30
#2W Wilkinson County vs. #3E Hancock Central, 7:00
#1E GMC vs. #4W Mt. de Sales, 8:30

Friday (2/7)
At Hancock Central

#1W Stratford Academy/#4E Aquinas vs. #2E Lake Oconee Academy/#3W FPD, 4:00
#1E GMC/#4W Mt. de Sales vs. #2W Wilkinson County/#3E Hancock Central, 7:00

Saturday (2/8)
At Hancock Central

Consolation: 4:00
Championship: 7:00

Franquon Sherman (Lincoln County)

Class 1A, Region 7 (Boys)

At Hancock Central
Wednesday (2/5)

#2W First Presbyterian Day vs. #3E Lincoln County, 4:00
#2E GMC vs. #3W Mt. de Sales, 5:30
#1W Wilkinson County vs. #4E Warren County, 7:00
#1E Hancock Central vs. #4W Twiggs County, 8:30

Friday (2/7)

#1W Wilkinson County/#4E Warren County vs. #2E GMC/#3W MDS, 5:30
#1E Hancock Central/#4W Twiggs vs. #2W FPD/#3E Lincoln County, 8:30

Saturday (2/8)

Consolation: 5:30
Championship: 8:30

Friday, January 31, 2020

Full highlights of Augusta's 79-71 win against USC Aiken, and a look at Augusta's 6 home games in February

Augusta (7-4 in PBC) is 2 games out of first place in the conference.

After Wednesday's road win over rival USC Aiken (highlights above), I want to invite and encourage everybody to attend some of Augusta’s 6 home games in February (starting this Saturday!). Here are the details...

Augusta University's men's and women's basketball teams will play 6 doubleheaders at home in the month of February. 4 of the game days come on Saturday afternoon and the other 2 on Wednesday evenings. I work closely with the basketball program and I am a huge fan, and I have noticed that very few people know when the teams play. And I usually find that fans of basketball are glad when I tell them about games because they enjoy seeing high level Division II basketball in person for a reasonable price.

Augusta's men's team won the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament championship last season, and the team reached the third round of the Division II NCAA tournament. We are currently within 2 games out of first place in the standings with 9 games remaining in the 20 game conference schedule.

(For more information about the basketball program:

Here are the dates and times for February's home games as well as pricing information:

Saturday, Feb 1 at 3:30 vs Columbus

- (women tip off at 1:30)

Wednesday, Feb 5 at 7:30 vs Lander

- (women tip off at 5:30)

Saturday, Feb 15 at 3:30 vs UNC Pembroke

- (women tip off at 1:30)

Saturday, Feb 22 at 3:30 vs Young Harris

- (women tip off at 1:30)

Wednesday, Feb 26 at 7:30 vs USC Aiken

- (women tip off at 5:30)

Saturday, Feb 29 at 3:30 vs Georgia College

- (women tip off at 1:30)

Ticket price information from Augusta's website:

$10 – General Admission*

$8 – General Admission (Single game / Non-Doubleheader Games)

$7 – Non-AU students, senior citizens, and military personnel with valid ID

FREE w/ ID - AU students, faculty, staff & retirees *

FREE – Kids six years and under

For more ticket options (for example: season ticket information):

Friday, January 3, 2020

Area teams earn statewide recognition just when the region race heats up... tonight!

More than 10 of the 50 CSRA schools we track have a basketball team that has claimed a place in their classification's top 10 statewide ranking* as high school basketball bursts into the new year:

Georgia Boys:

Evans - #8 Class 6A
Cross Creek - #5 Class 4A
Baldwin - #9 Class 4A
Glenn Hills - #4 Class 2A
Butler - #5 Class 2A
Laney - #7 Class 2A
Hephzibah - #8 Class 2A

Georgia Girls:

Laney - #2 Class 2A
Josey - #6 Class 2A

South Carolina Boys:

Aiken - #3 Class 4A
Wagener-Salley - #5 Class 1A
McCormick - #6 Class 6A

South Carolina Girls:

North Augusta - #1 Class 4A

That accounting will be the last time we need to judge subjectively which teams will be most likely to make a run at a state title by looking at overall wins and losses, the strength of a team's schedule and the quality of its wins. Now the ONLY thing that will matter for figuring out which teams will play into March successfully will be the results of each "region race," a series of mostly Tuesday and Friday matchups in January that, for the Georgia teams, will determine not just the regular season region champions but also who will receive automatic state playoff bids and advantageous region tournament seeding.

And each region race in South Carolina will be even more important because, unlike Georgia, where state playoff seeding is determined during the region tournaments played in the first week of February, the regular season's region standings determine state playoff seeding in SC.

Here are some key matchups during the first 8 days of the region race, the results of which will mean far more than any current statewide ranking can:

Class 6A, Region 3

Friday, January 3
Grovetown (12-2, 1-0) at #8 Evans (10-2, 1-0)
Class 6A, Region 3

In December, both #9 Evans and Grovetown won the first game of their ten game league schedule, and whichever team earns a win Friday night will gain even more momentum before both will hit the road next week to take turns visiting Heritage (Evans Tuesday and Grovetown Friday). Heritage advanced to the semifinal round of the state playoffs last season, and the team features two widely heralded stars reportedly destined for college rosters after they graduate.

Friday, January 3
Heritage (12-3, 0-0) at Lakeside (5-7, 0-1)
Class 6A, Region 3

Tuesday, January 7
Evans at Heritage

Friday, January 10
Grovetown at Heritage

Lakeside's progress has been uneven in the pre-region portion of their schedule, with the only consistent ingredient being the production of senior Tyshun Briscoe, and, to a lesser extent, the scoring punch provided off the bench by sophomore Rico Gonzalez. The Panthers dropped their first region contest 58-49 at home.

Heritage will be playing its first region game, and new coach Brian Anderson (an Augusta native), as well as newcomers RJ Noord and James White, will set about continuing the momentum gained last season when the Patriots reached the Class 6A state playoff semifinal round.

Class 2A, Region 4

#4 Glenn Hills sits at the top of the region standings with a 7-1 record halfway through the 16 game league schedule. But 5 of the other 8 teams in the region are within two games of the Spartans, and 3 of them are ranked in the top 10 in the state. The next 10 days will give teams the opportunity to position themselves for a run at a top 2 spot in the final standings, which signifies an automatic state playoff spot, assuming this region will continue its recent practices for its region tournament seeding.

Friday, January 3
#5 Butler (8-4, 4-2) at #8 Hephzibah (8-5, 4-3)
Class 2A, Region 4

Friday, January 3
Jefferson County (8-4, 4-1) at Westside (6-6, 4-3)
Class 2A, Region 4

Tuesday, January 7
#5 Butler at #4 Glenn Hills
Class 2A, Region 4

Tuesday, January 7
#7 Laney (7-4, 4-2) at Jefferson County
Class 2A, Region 4

Friday, January 10
#8 Hephzibah at Jefferson County
Class 2A, Region 4

Friday, January 10
#7 Laney at #5 Butler
Class 2A, Region 4

Saturday, January 11
#8 Hephzibah at Westside
Class 2A, Region 4

Saturday, January 11
(Girls) #2 Laney at #6 Josey
Class 2A, Region 4

Class 4A, Region 3

On paper this might seem like a two team race on the boys side, but Burke County shouldn't be underestimated, especially after a recent 63-37 road win over Laney. And Thomson is the only team to have beaten #3 Aiken (South Carolina Class 4A) this season.

The girls race has traditionally been a dead heat between Baldwin, Cross Creek and Burke County. I expect that to be the case again this season.

Friday, January 3
Burke County (7-4, 0-0) at #5 Cross Creek (12-3, 0-0)
Class 4A, Region 3

Friday, January 3
(Girls) Burke County (6-3, 0-0) at #5 Cross Creek (9-4, 0-0)
Class 4A, Region 3

Saturday, January 4
#9 Baldwin (7-4, 0-0) at Thomson (4-5, 0-0)
Class 4A, Region 3

Tuesday, January 7
Baldwin at Burke County
Class 4A, Region 3

Tuesday, January 7
(Girls) Baldwin (10-5) at Burke County
Class 4A, Region 3

Above was a sample of the exciting league games in the first week of January. We'll track as much of that action, along with the key happenings from the leagues and teams not mentioned during the entire month's sprint.

*Rankings referenced:

Georgia boys -

Georgia girls -

South Carolina boys and girls -

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A review of Augusta's 86-73 win over Barton and a preview of Thursday's 11:00 A.M. "Education Day" matchup against Emmanuel

Augusta 86, Barton 73 - Final

PBC Player of the Week Darren Lucas-White

Leading scorers

Rafael Monteiro - 22
Darren Lucas-White - 18
Troy Cracknell - 14

The Jaguars improved to 4-2.

Watch the replay here:

Thursday at 11:00 A.M. Augusta will face Emmanuel, which, like Augusta, won its conference and advanced to the NCAA tournament last season. The “Education Day” game will be attended by thousands of elementary school students. If you can't attend but want to watch, you can do so at this link:

Augusta vs Barton - Breakdown

Augusta head coach Dip Metress had to be pleased that during Saturday's 86-73 win over Barton, his team delivered nicely on all three of his "keys to the game." A breakdown of that performance follows:

1) Improve defensively after giving up 85 points against Barton on November 9. (Augusta prevailed by 3 points on the road in the season's second game)

As hoped for, the Jaguars held Barton to 39% shooting in Saturday's win at home, whereas three weeks earlier Barton had converted 53% of its field goals against Augusta. Augusta also out-rebounded its opponent 40-32. Metress spread the minutes among more players in Saturday's meeting than he had in the first meeting between the two teams, which allowed more intensity and activity from the players on the court at any given time. Eight players played more than 14 minutes, and nobody played more than 26 minutes in Saturday's game.

Two players who made the most of those minutes and made a notable impact on the defensive end of the floor were sophomores Darren Lucas-White and Tyshaun Crawford. Lucas-White played well enough to earn Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week honors as he tallied 18 points (5-7 field goals, 8-9 free throws), 6 steals and 4 assists in 22 minutes. Coach Metress singled him out in our post game interview:

Metress also praised Crawford, a 7-0 center in his first season with the Jaguars after transferring from Georgia Southern, for blocking 6 shots in 24 minutes of action:

All Peach Belt Conference performer Rafael Monteiro, Augusta's leading scorer (19 ppg), led the way in fulfilling Metress's second objective for Saturday's game, the first of 4 home games in December:

2) Establish the inside game.

Monteiro continued his torrid shooting pace in the win by making 11 of his 16 field goal attempts. He also grabbed 9 rebounds in the contest. The senior has made 59% of his attempts through 6 games.

With one more game before the beginning of conference play, Metress is homing in on his rotation, which brings us to his third key for Saturday's game against Barton:

3) Build depth

Nine players scored for Augusta Saturday. And in addition to the standout performances by Lucas-White, Monteiro and Crawford, the Jaguars got key contributions from Troy Cracknell (14 points and 7 rebounds), Tyree Myers (9 points and 5 assists) and Shawn Moss, who made a pair of key buckets in the second half.

It's not often that a team executes on all of the points its coach outlines before a game. But Saturday's win, Augusta's second straight, was one such case. When Emmanuel, the defending Conference Carolinas champion, visits Thursday morning, similar execution might be needed for Augusta to extend its winning streak to three games.

Monday, November 25, 2019

11 Games to be broadcast this Thanksgiving week by SUVtv and AugBball

11 Games to be broadcast this Thanksgiving week by SUVtv and AugBball

The basketball season is in full swing and during this Thanksgiving week you can watch, either in person or live on the internet, 11 games featuring the area's most competitive college and high school teams.

Augusta Lady Jaguars (2-2) at Benedict (4-1) 

- 5:30 Tuesday (Nov 26)

Augusta (2-2) at Benedict (3-3) 

- 7:30 Tuesday (Nov 26)

Friday and Saturday's college and high school action at Augusta University

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Highlights from Grovetown vs North Augusta, a preseason scrimmage game with post season type effort, competitiveness and skill level

Colin Rodrigues (North Augusta) sprints back to contest Zach Bell (Grovetown) at the rim.

Grovetown 78, North Augusta 74 (Preseason Scrimmage Game)

Four teams I expect to be among the area's best this season finished their preseason Tuesday when North Augusta's boys and girls teams visited Grovetown for a pair of scrimmage games that would that easily could have been mistaken either for region rivalry or even post season matchups had we spectators not known better.

A few sequences during the third quarter of the boys game vividly illustrated the competitiveness of the players and the the high level of talent on the floor. For example, after a North Augusta turnover, Grovetown's Darius Dunn, who recovered the ball at the free throw line on his defensive side, quickly spotted teammate Zach Bell leaking out at half court with no Yellow Jacket defender in sight. The instant the ball left Dunn's hands, North Augusta's Colin Rodrigues, who was standing near the corner, even with Dunn and a good 25 feet from Bell, broke into a sprint and made up enough ground to plant his feet on the volleyball line at the same time as Bell, who himself had planted to rise up for a dunk.

Unlike the other three times Bell blew the roof off of the gym with thunderous slam dunks in the third quarter, he was unable to finish this particular attempt. But the buzz in the gym from after he tried, and as importantly, after Rodrigues's extra effort to make sure to contest and ultimately get called for a foul, made it obvious that we were watching two high level teams that wanted to do everything in their power to win the bragging rights that were at stake Tuesday, whether it was a regular season game or not.

Grovetown topped North Augusta 78-74 in the boys game. The Warriors were led by Bell, who scored 19 points, senior Zy Wright, who also tallied 19, and junior Julius Brown, who logged 15 points (4 three pointers) and 9 assists.

Rodrigues (15 points), a junior, led the way for North Augusta. Senior Kaleb Cooper added 12.

North Augusta 59, Grovetown 52 (Girls)

In the first game, North Augusta's Lady Yellow Jackets, the three time South Carolina class 4A defending state champions, topped a promising Grovetown squad 59-52 behind 19 points by 6-2 freshman P'eris Smith and 17 by junior Kiana Lee.

Sophomore Keona Curtis led Grovetown with 15 points, and fellow sophomore D'mya Griffin added 12.