Sunday, January 31, 2016

Highlights from Liberty County-Thomson; Laney-Butler; Augusta-Clayton State; much more tocome!

I didn't post my usual updates from this weekend's games. But that is not because I wasn't watching. All day Sunday, I tried to update this post with highlights and commentary from the action I captured. I'm still not finished. So enjoy what I included below and stay tuned for more highlights from Westside's win over Butler, Josey's win over Glenn Hills, and Laney and Josey's girls action from the weekend.

A reminder of Westside's impressive run

Westside topped Butler 62-58 Friday. The next day the Patriots beat Josey to complete a three game regular season sweep of both the Bulldogs and the Eagles. The Patriots, who have lost only to Laney this season, will likely take the 3A region's second spot heading into next week's region tournament.

The latest update is from Augusta University's 80-70 win over Clayton State. 

Keshun Sherrill scored 24 points, Tyvez Monroe added 18, and Tamyrik Fields chipped in 12. The Jaguars improved to 12-7 overall and 8-4 in Peach Belt play.

Laney improved to 20-2 overall and 9-1 in 3A region action with an 80-69 win over Butler Saturday. 

Christian Keeling scored 28 points and Zep Jasper added 23.

Sunday's first update was from Liberty County's 80-72 win at Thomson Friday.

I've heard much about junior guard Davion Mitchell, who has already committed to Auburn. All the hype about Mitchell is warranted. He is easily the best high schooler I have seen play in years. The 6'1" guard is incredibly athletic. And he is skilled and extremely unselfish. Will Avery alerted me to the fact that Mitchell is regarded as a top 50 player in the class of 2017. I expect that number to rise quickly.

Richard LeCounte III is regarded as a top 100 football player and is committed to UGA. LeCounte III may be the second best (behind Mitchell) basketball player I've seen this season. 

The Bulldogs, who are the region's next best team, have only lost to Liberty County, Laney, and South Aiken (all area powers and state contenders) this season. The Bulldogs were led by 6'4" junior Darius Turman. Turman is one of the area's very best underclassmen.

Stay tuned today for highlights from Westside's win over Butler, Josey's win over Glenn Hills, and Laney and Josey's girls action.

Friday's updates

This update is about Alleluia, the defending GICAA state champs. It is senior night at the Angeldome and the Angels are coming off a 76-73 win at Augusta Christian in which senior Mac McBride scored 28 points, junior Ben Dresser tallied 22, and senior Hayden Hebert contributed 21. These three make up the area's best scoring trio.

I shared on Twitter a link to the highlights from the first half of Tuesday's game at Augusta Christian. Here is the link to that:

And here is the link to the recently released second half highlights:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ricky Moore, Chuck Graham, Williams, Coleman, Taylor, and Collier all make this Throwback Thursday post:

One of’s top five all time posts is Ashley Brown’s detailing of Darius Williams and Don Coleman’s offensive exploits this season at Miami-Dade and Lawson State. More news has come about two of Augusta’s all time best bucket getters. Williams was named NJCAA’s Player of the Week after scoring 66 points in a pair of games. And published a detailed report, which included a conversation with Coleman, of California University’s scholarship offer should Coleman transfer after this season and play three years for the Bears. (Don is a “full qualifier” who can transfer from a junior college after one year and not sit out.)

Ashley’s guest post paints the entire statistical picture early in these two dynamos’ freshman seasons. What I’ll share now are two videos I found somewhat buried in my YouTube channel that provide a great visual for their ability to score:

This video is from the most fun first quarter of high school hoops I've seen in a while during last season's region 3A opener between Butler's Coleman and Josey's Williams:

And this one is from the first solid week of basketball I ever saw from Williams. He was dynamite as a freshman guard who led Josey to a region championship:

Footage of Ricky Moore, Vonteego Cummings, Will Avery, Mike Cummings and Antrone Lee playing in the area's biggest ever high school game is a great reason for a throwback Thursday post!

I love to include my best buddy, NCAA champion player and assistant coach, and maybe Augusta’s best ever high school player Ricky Moore, in stories as much as possible. His UConn Huskies recently topped former Big East rival Georgetown at home to improve to 14-5 overall. The Huskies are second in the AAC and host Cincinnati at 7:00 Thursday.

But what I love about this Ricky Moore update is that I have several clips to share from the most exciting, and well attended, high school game in our area’s history. Courtesy of Kevin Faigle of News 12 WRDW, I share 1995 region tournament action involving Westside and Thomson and featuring four of the area’s best ever players. And five of my best ever friends: Ricky Moore, Vonteego Cummings, Will Avery, Mike Cummings, and Antrone Lee.

Jaylen Taylor and Aliyah Collier are playing well as freshmen

Jaylen Taylor, who pulverized area rims (see below) with his striding slams until graduating from Laney last Spring, scored 14 points and grabbed 5 rebounds Recentlu in Tampa’s recent 86-71 home win over St. Leo. And Wednesday he scored 6 points and grabbed 3 rebounds during 20 minutes of action during Tampa’s 66-60 conference win at Florida Tech.

Taylor has started 5 games during his freshman season. He made 6 of 8 field goal attempts and sank both of his free throw attempts against St. Leo. The victories put the Spartans (6-13, 2-8) in the win column in the conference standings.

Jaylen makes me think of another 2015 graduate of Laney, last season's AugBball player of the year (boys and girls included), Aliyah Collier. She is tearing apart ACC competition as a freshman Clemson Lady Tiger. Clemson's Twitter feed recently shared this photo and these facts:

Jaylen and Aliyah remind me of last season’s “Laney Rule” post (this is the “throwback Thursday” part of the Taylor/Collier update):

I rarely do throwback Thursday posts. But when I do, I want them to include my childhood hero, Chuck Graham!

Thanks to WGAC’s Ashley Brown for sharing this late 1980’s video and others of my child hood hero Chuck Graham. The video is 45 minutes long and the first 15 minutes are some of the neatest segments I could hope to find. 18 year old Chuck is interviewed. Augusta coaching legend Don Brock is interviewed. And extensive footage is shown from Richmond’s practices and their games against every Richmond County school in almost every Richmond County gym!

Keenan Mann, Buck Harris, Jamie Rigdon, Mike Stokes, and Ashley helped me identify some of the 1980's Augusta hoopers in the footage, and I know I spent much of last Sunday watching and talking about this video. 

Included in the footage are Keenan Mann, whose jersey is retired at Augusta University, Musketeer great Kenny Robinson, Butler's Duke Tranum and John Ruffin, and several others who even I can’t name. (But don’t worry, Ashley can and has on his Facebook page).

Like I said, Chuck was my hero. So it’s a good day when I can include not just Ricky, but him as well, in my throwback Thursday post!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sherrill sinks two to give the Jags a road win and USMMA tops Trinity to make "college night" a success!

Augusta and USMAA win on "college night"

Wednesday was "college night" at AugBball. I updated the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter throughout the evening with the featured games.

Augusta University got two free throws from Keshun Sherrill in the final minute, and the Jags earned a road win at Pembroke to improve to 7-4 in Peach Belt Conference play. Sherrill, Keith Crump, and Aaron Byrd each scored 11 points to lead Augusta.

Also Matt Miller's USMMA squad earned a 69-67 win over Trinity. David Smith led the Mariners with 17 points.

Everything beneath here was published before Wednesday's games began...

How do you score 24.4 points per game and stay on the top ten list of Division II's national scoring leaders like Augusta University's Keshun Sherrill and Young Harris's CJ Wilson?

Get to the free throw line!

During the past four Peach Belt game days, Sherrill has made 38 of his last 40 free throws and Wilson has buried 37 of 44. The two are tied for 8th on the national scoring list. They are also in the top 15 in free throws made, and in the top 10 in minutes played per game.

will update this post with as much Peach Belt action as I can tonight.

I will of course follow Augusta University's road game at Pembroke closely. I also hope to see and share news and insight about Francis Marion's game at Lander and Young Harris's game at Georgia College.

See my latest update about Augusta University here:

CJ Wilson and Peach Belt leader Young Harris also figure prominently in that post.

Matt Miller and USMMA tip-off "college night" at 5!

Miller's Mariners take on Trinity at 5:00 P.M. I'll share as many updates from the game as possible.

Click here to read about Matt's latest recognition.
Matt has been pouring in buckets for almost a decade. (He averaged 20 points per game as a freshman in high school in 2009 and he hasn't stopped since!) I featured my former high school player in Monday's post. "The winning ticket" is the Landmark Conference's tenth leading scorer at
14.8 points per game. And WGAC's Ashley Brown and I spent the first several minutes of our lengthy interview Tuesday discussing his accomplishments on and off the court.

As you can see to the right, Matt was recently recognized by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association in its honor roll of exceptionally performing Division II and III players.

Here are the highlights from Matt's game high 27 point outing last Monday against Elizabethtown:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Updates and highlights from Tuesday's games, including Westminster, Richmond, Lady Warriors

This is your headquarters for Tuesday's area hoops action.

Westminster blitzed Augusta Prep 75-50.

Michael Dukes scored 24 and Jelani Watson-Gayle added 14.

Ryan Jolly led Prep with 19.

Richmond topped Grovetown 73-63.

Grovetown's Lady Warrirors thumped Richmond 69-25 to improve to 22-1 overall and 7-1 in sub region 5A action.

Grovetown was lead by sophomore Ayana Collins (24 points) and junior Destiny Marshall (16 points).Westminster's girls took down Prep 53-47. 

11:59 update:
Lincoln County topped region leader Hancock 61-59. Ahmad Rand scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 8 shots. Zach Crite scored 16 points and rebounded 10 times. And Devon Holloway scored 12 points.

Thomson knocked off region rival Burke County 59-55. Radaren Johnson led the way with 17 points, all in the second half. San Antonio Brinson scored 12 points. Darius Turman and Marquez Winfry each added 10.

Alleluia topped Augusta Christian 76-73 behind a combined 71 points from what I call the city's best trio: Mac McBride (28), Ben Dresser (22), and Hayden Hebert (21).

Nate Dunlop led Augusta Christian with 20 points. 

With a 47-39 road win at Evans, Lakeside improved to 4-4 in league play and grabbed the sub region's third spot (behind Greenbrier and leader Richmond).

8:41 update:
Butler topped Glenn Hills 81-68.

Greenbrier beat Cross Creek 61-57. Justen Hartfield led the way with 18, Richard Crawford scored 16, Jakobe Leverett added 15, and David Harris contributed 7 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Check out my interview with Ashley Brown

If you are reading this during, or before, the 6:00-7:00 time period (Tuesday), check out my interview with Ashley Brown on WGAC 95.1 FM or 580 AM. You can even download the iHeart radio app and listen to it on your phone if you are out of the area. I hope you like it. I think we talked about everything, and I know I had fun!

Topics include:
Matt Miller's recent performance at USMMA (see here -

Augusta University's Keshun Sherrill and the Jags' coming 25th year anniversary of the first game at Christenberry Fieldhouse, a close loss to South Carolina.

Butler's Don Coleman and Josey's Darius Williams, two freshmen making splashes nationally.

Laney's bounce back win and the stellar seasons and careers of seniors Zep Jasper and Chrsitian Keeling.

Josey's upset of Laney and the Eagles' superb talent, particularly senior Donald Jordan and Junior Javen Whitehead.

Richmond's 11 game winning streak spanning back to December.

Evans's dominant win over Cross Creek Friday.

Ashley's awesome YouTube find of Chuck Graham, former Florida State and Richmond Academy standout.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Jags win 3 of 4; Sherrill and Young Harris's Wilson among nation's leaders

Keshun Sherrill scored 27 points to lead Augusta University to an 84-73 home win over Flagler Saturday, the third conference win in the last four tries for the Jaguars. Sherrill was one of five Augusta players who scored in double figures.

The Jaguars occupy the second spot in the Peach Belt Conference's east division heading into Wednesday's road game at east division rival Pembroke. Augusta leads Pembroke and Francis Marion by two games in the east and trails leader Lander by two. Augusta (10-7, 6-4) topped Pembroke 73-72 earlier this month when freshman Jashawn Brooks made the go ahead three point play with 39 seconds remaining. Sherrill led the way with 26 in the home win.

So close...

The Jags were two overtime forcing threes from Young Harris away from upending the west division leader last Monday. As painful as the loss was, the MLK Day showdown between the two best players I've covered in the past twelve months, Augusta's Sherrill and Young Harris's CJ Wilson, was the season's most well played and exciting game.

After trailing late, Young Harris's Ben Waterhouse made a three to force overtime. At the end of that session, Wilson made another long ball to force a second overtime. And Wilson clinched the road win with yet another three to put Young Harris ahead 96-91 with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Sherrill and Wilson pepper the national leaderboards

These explosive guards not only dual on Peach Belt Conference courts. They also chase each other on NCAA Division II's statistical leaderboards:

NCAA Division II leaders

  • Sherrill and Wilson are tied for 8th with 24.4 points per game
  • Sherrill is 16th and Wilson is 17th in free throws attempted
  • Sherrill is 8th and Wilson is 14th in free throws made
  • Sherrill is 2nd and Wilson is 7th in minutes per game
  • Wilson is 12th in assists with 6 per game

Sherrill and Wilson have developed quite a rivalry these past twelve months. 

During that time, Young Harris holds a 2-1 advantage in a sequence that has seen the road team win every game.

Augusta earned a 67-65 road win last January when Sherrill made 2 threes in the final 20 seconds to erase a 5 point deficit

Wilson scored 27 points in Young Harris's 83-76 Peach Belt Conference tournament quarterfinal round road win over Augusta last March:

The third blow was delivered by Wilson last Monday, a mere two days after his buzzer beater at Francis Marion:

Hopefully we'll get part four of the sequence in the next couple months. That would mean Sherrill and his young and fast improving teammates will have qualified for the post season and be headed for another chance at an NCAA tournament birth.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Matt Miller is the Winning Ticket

Junior Matt Miller scored 27 points last Monday, but his Mariners were unable to hang on to a double digit second half lead, and USMMA dropped its second straight conference game to Elizabethtown 75-74. The Mariners now hold the sixth spot in the Landmark Conference standings.

See the highlights of Miller's 27 point outing directly below:

I coached Matt during his high school days as a GAIS Eagle. He is the most impressive person I've coached. I have talked about his accomplishments before, and recently I've been calling him AugBball's man of the year.

Before I direct you to Matt's own words, I'll share some of his college basketball accomplishments as described by USMMA's play-by-play man John Kelly. (I'll throw a few in as well):

From Kelly...

  • Miller has scored 20 or more points against conference opponents 9 times in his first 3 seasons, including 23 in a recent win over NCAA Division III's #23 team, Scranton (January 13).
  • He has scored 10 or more points against conference opponents 45 times.
  • Matt's 9 point, 7 rebound performance against Juniata (January 16) snapped his 12 game streak of double figure games.

From me...

  • Matt is the Landmark Conference's 10th leading scorer (14.8 ppg).
  • He has recorded the conference's 5th highest three point field goal (42%) and free throw (82%) percentages.
  • He shoots 5 free throws per game. He is so much more than a shooter only. He is a player!

I have made much of the fact that Matt's course of study is unique and extremely impressive. I describe it here in a January 8 interview with WGAC's Ashley Brown:

In addition to Matt's exploits on the court, in the classroom, and at sea, he has found the time to start this blog with me and teach me how to edit video (years ago); to start this blog with my father; and recently to make this contribution (along with several others).

Matt explains (in the post linked directly above) that we all have a winning lottery ticket: ourselves and our ability to consistently try our best, to do it purposefully, and to remain persistent in the face of adversity. Matt's record on and off the court illustrates his commitment to being a proper steward of his "winning ticket:" his willingness to commit the time and the effort needed to reach his goals.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Laney tops Westside; South Aiken edges North Augusta and more updates from Friday's games!

The time for previews is over. So here are the updates I have to quickly share...

11:18 update:

Melvin Mckie led all scorers with 16 points in South Aiken's 50-46 road win over region foe North Augusta. Mckie attacked the basket throughout the second half, either finishing or drawing help and opening rebounding opportunities for Zalair Knowles (6'8") and Frank Pressley (6'4") to clean up misses. South Aiken improved to 3-2 in region play.

North Augusta was led by Moses Cheek, who scored 15 points in the loss, including 5 straight in the last two minutes of the game to cut the deficit to one at 45-44. The first basket in the sequence was a "Dirk-like" one foot fade away. The second was a three from the left corner.

9:55 update:
Laney topped Westside 80-60 at home, taking sole possession of first place in the 3A region's standings. The Wildcats improved to 18-2 overall and 7-1 in league play. Westside lost its third game of the season. All three losses have been to Laney.

I don't have full statistics yet. But I do know Christian Keeling scored 27 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished 10 assists.

10:53 update:
Evans defeated Cross Creek 72-55, improving its 5A sub region record to 2-5, only one game behind both Cross Creek and Lakeside for the third spot in the standings. The third spot is much better than spots 4-6 because those teams have to play themselves into the coming region tournament.

Chris Stone led all scorers with 22 points. Michael Steflik added 14. And Jo'el Grant stuffed the stat sheet with this line: 17 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals.

10:30 update:
Westfield topped Augusta Prep 59-43 in class 3A GISA action. Ryan Jolly led Prep with 21 points, including 15 in the first half. Augusta Prep led 29-26 at halftime.

Westminster also fell Friday. League leader Gatewood was the culprit. The Gators, runners up in last season's GISA class 3A state playoffs, topped the Wildcats 59-43.

Westminster hosts rival Augusta Prep Tuesday. The Wildcats (1-2) need a win to get back to .500 in league play. The Cavaliers (0-3) are searching for their first region win.

10:17 update:
Glenn Hills topped Hephzibah 77-64 to improve to 3-5 in region play. 6'7" sophomore Timmy Sellers scored 17 points and snagged 12 rebounds. Koriyan Byrd added 12 points for the Spartans.

9:30 update:
Aquinas edged Lincoln County at home in a 1A region game when Junior TJ Mitchell made a basket with 1:18 remaining to give the Irish a 44-42 lead and sank a free throw with 11 seconds left to put Aquinas ahead for good 45-44.

Tre Gomillion scored 14 points to lead Aquinas. Mitchell added 12, and Gerald Merriweather chipped in 10.

Zach Crite (14), Ahmad Rand (12), and Javon Reid (12) led Lincoln County.

Special shout out to David Beard for providing live footage on Facebook of Mitchell's go ahead bucket with 1:18 remaining!

The following are previews written and posted before Friday's games...

South Aiken (12-3, 2-2) at North Augusta (12-5, 2-2)

4A (South Carolina) region standings

Irmo (4-0)
River Bluff (3-1)
#5 South Aiken (2-2)
North Augusta (2-2)
Lexington (1-3)
White Knoll (0-4)

*denotes AugBball Power Poll ranking (Jan 13 update)

Both teams feature a talented guard who is easily among the top 5-10 players in the area. South Aiken’s 6’6” playmaker Chance Prandy scores, handles, distributes, blocks shots, and rebounds, as his stat line shows: 17 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 spg, 3 apg, 2 bpg.

And Jock Smith, North Augusta’s 5’11” point guard with lightning quickness and a sweet stroke, can turn the Yellow Jackets’ lack of height into an advantage because of his ability to score and speed up the game.

The teams met two days before Christmas in a non league matchup to decide the champion of North Augusta's holiday tournament held at North Augusta. The Thoroughbreds routed the Yellow Jackets 69-51.

In that first meeting, South Aiken slowed the Yellow Jackets with a 2-3 zone and scored on high percentage opportunities against North Augusta’s man-to-man defense. Prandy is but one of three front liners with size who plays above the rim. Prandy, Zalair Knowles (6'8"), and Frank Pressley (6'4") grab a combined 25 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Gemini Bell (8 ppg) and sophomore guard Melvin Mckie (7 ppg) bring another dimension of quickness and scoring to South Aiken’s attack. These two will be tested Friday by North Augusta’s Smith, who will attack from all angles.

Prandy and Bell led South Aiken in scoring that night with 23 and 22 points, respectively. Darius Copeland scored 14 points, and Smith added 13 in defeat.

Friday’s game will mean much more than December's as the winner stands a great chance of tying River Bluff in the second spot of the region’s standings. River Bluff hosts league leader Irmo Friday.

Laney hosts Westside to decide 3A region's leader

3A region standings

#2 Laney 6-1
#3 Westside 6-1
Josey 5-2
Butler 3-4
Washington County 3-4
Glenn Hills 2-5
Hephzibah 0-7

Evidently, Laney (17-2) does not take losing lightly. After dropping its second game in 18 outings last Saturday at Josey, Laney coach Sean Parks apparently benched his, and the area's, top two scorers, senior division one bound guards Christian Keeling and Zep Jasper.

Despite the reduced minutes, Keeling led the Wildcats with 17 points in Tuesday's road win at Glenn Hills. And Jasper made the defensive stop that sealed the Wildcats' sixth win in seven tries against region opponents.

Laney's visitor this Friday, Westside, isn't fond of losing either. The Patriots have not fallen in exactly one month, when Laney knocked them out of championship contention in the Richmond County Christmas tournament in the semi final round:

Westside's only other blemish this season was another loss to Laney in the opening game of the Patriots' region schedule for days earlier.

No team is as hot as Westside. The Patriots have logged two wins each over Josey and Butler and another over Richmond in the past thirty days. And no players have been more crucial to their team's success than guards Trez Hawes and Christian Robinson.

Hawes scored 59 total points last weekend in a pair of wins over Glenn Hills and Hephzibah. And Robinson made important shots in the recent region win over Josey.

For the sake of area hoops fans, I hope the apparent benching of Keeling and Jasper has run its course. The court is the right place for these great players who are now 93 wins into their high school playing days.

Eight quarters of Keeling, Jasper, Hawes, and Robinson was exciting the first two times the city's most accomplished teams met. I expect the third time to be a charm, especially with the first spot in the 3A region's standings on the line.

Westminster to visit league favorite Gatewood

Westminster recently became the last area team to lose its first game after dropping one at home to GISA region foe Westfield. Friday the Wildcats will try to avoid dipping below .500 in league standings at the home gym of GISA power Gatewood.

Gatewood, last season's runner up in the class 3A state playoffs, hasn't lost a league game. The Gators recently routed Augusta Prep (0-2).

Westminster (14-1, 1-1) needs a win to make an early surge at the five team region's top spot. The Wildcats host Prep Tuesday in another key game for the region's two representatives from the Augusta area.

The Wildcats are led by junior Jelani Watson-Gayle, who averages 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists while shooting 53% from the field and 44% from long distance.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Greenbrier drains 14 threes and claims second place; Grovetown (girls) first

5A boys standings

Richmond 6-0
Greenbrier 4-2
Lakeside 3-3
Cross Creek 3-3
Evans 1-5
Grovetown 1-5

Senior Justen Hartfield made 5 threes and led all scorers with 24 points, and freshman Richard Crawford buried 7 threes Tuesday as Greenbrier topped Lakeside 71-68 in overtime to secure sole possession of second place in sub region 5A's standings.

The Wolfpack drained 14 threes in the game. Lakeside was led by Kre'sean Hall, who scored all of his team high 19 points after halftime. Kalen Williams added 18 points in defeat.

Cross Creek topped Grovetown 84-79. Moses Jones led all scorers with 24 points. Kham Gordon added 21, and Colby Taylor chipped in 16 points.

Shamar Barrett and Eric Graham each scored 19 points to lead Grovetown.

Richmond defeated Evans 52-40. Moses Williams led the way with 17 points. The Musketeers remain undefeated in league play.

Chris Stone scored 17 points and Michael Steflik added 10 for the Knights.

Grovetown's Lady Warriors topped Cross Creek 62-49. The 5A sub region's standings now look like this:

1) Grovetown (5-1)
2) Greenbrier (5-1)
3) Cross Creek (4-2)
5) Evans (2-4)
5) Richmond (2-4)
6) Lakeside (0-6)

Greenbrier's Lady Wolfpack defeated Lakeside. I'll post the score soon.

Richmond's Lady Musketeers tied Evans for the fourth spot in the standings with a 47-41 win over the Lady Knights.

My next two updates are not complete but they are interesting! Butler beat Josey at home. Josey just topped Laney Saturday. Laney trailed Glenn Hills by one point tonight with 58 seconds remaining. But the Wildcats earned a 3 point win to preserve their first place tie with Westside leading into Friday's showdown at Laney.

More details to come!

The following are the previews I posted before Tuesday's games tipped off...

Let's tip off the previews with an update on Josey, Westside, and Laney's three-way tie at the top of the 3A region!
Josey stunned much of the high school basketball viewing crowd with Saturday's 66-55 home win over Laney, which until nine days ago owned an undefeated record. The win created a three way tie at the top of the region's standings. The teams are involved in games with each other four more times before the region tournament:

Region 3A standings* and key upcoming games:

Laney (6-1): defeated Glenn Hills (2-6); Friday vs Westside (5-1); Feb 6 vs Josey (5-2)

Westside (5-1): Friday at Laney (6-1); Saturday vs Richmond (non region game); Jan 30 at Josey (5-1)

Josey (5-2): fell to Butler (3-4); Jan 30 vs Westside; Feb 6 at Laney

*I updated these standings with Tuesday's results.

Josey aims to continue the roll it may have started Saturday with its convincing 66-55 win over Laney. Donald Jordan has proven to be as good as anybody on the court in every game I've seen him play this season: First against Cross Creek when he scored 24 points; next against Westside when he scored 31; yet again scoring 28 against Washington County; and finally a team high 17 points Saturday against long time rival Laney. Jordan has averaged 20 points per game while shooting 50% from three point land with 33 long distance makes during his first 9 games. He is 6'4" tall and he defends fiercely. He impressed me Saturday with his ability to create off the dribble, a skill I've seen him rapidly developing recently. Donald is the first player I mention to every college coach who asks about area guards.

After 10 games played, Josey's 6'3" center Javen Whitehead averaged 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. But the numbers don't tell the story here. In games against Richmond and Laney, two of the Eagles' toughest opponents, he dominated. He and Lincoln County center Ahmad Rand are the inside players who have made the biggest impact this season.

#3 Westside visits #2 Laney in the first game of a weekend double header that will settle many questions about the region 3A standings and area bragging rights. After visiting Laney, the Patriots host Richmond. The 5A sub region leading #4 Musketeers (5-0) have won 8 straight games while rarely being challenged.

The Patriots are on an even bigger roll than Josey. In fact, two of Westside's five consecutive wins have come over the Eagles, the most recent being two Fridays ago at home.

Cross Creek's game at Grovetown takes on a whole new meaning after ruling

After Cross Creek earned a 59-50 home win over then undefeated sub region foe Grovetown, it appeared that unless one of the other four sub region competitors would upset the Lady Razorbacks, Cross Creek had assured itself no less than a tie for first in the regular season standings.

But Greenbrier was later awarded a win over Cross Creek, forcing a three way tie at the top of the sub region between Cross Creek, Grovetown and Greenbrier.

Cross Creek is led by 6'2" center Alana Davis, who led all scorers with 23 points in the teams' first meeting:

Davis is flanked by sharp shooters KymMya Thomas and Nya Daniels:

But Groveotwn has a "big three" of its own in Destiny Marshall, Kwajelin Farrar,
and Ayana Collins:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Josey tops Laney: full game highlights and updates from area games

8:16 update:
Donald Jordan put in a nifty finish to put Josey ahead of Laney 62-55 with 1:12 remaining. Josey topped the 3A region's leader 66-65 at home behind Donald Jordan's 17 points to force a three way tie at the top of the the standings with Laney and Westside.

Josey's Javen Whitehead added 11 and played like the town's best inside player, powering through contact to snag rebounds on both ends and dunk with authority in traffic. And Jordan made shots and finishes that made me shake my head.

As expected, there was absolutely no quit in Laney. Christian Keelimg scored 27 points and Zep Jasper added 17 in defeat. 

Josey improved to 9-7 overall and 5-1 in region play. Laney fell to 15-2 and 5-1.

I expect the finish of the region race to be scintillating!

7:53 update:
Josey leads Laney 49-34 with 7:52 remaining in the game. Zep Jasper is at the line for two shots.

7:32 update:
I am at Josey for the city's most exciting rivalry: Laney vs Josey!

Josey leads Laney 28-25 at halftime. When I think of Laney and Josey, I think of tough, quick, athletic guys who play extremely hard. And sure enough, tonight's game has had its high flying fun.

Daniel Chisolm kicked off the show with a steal-and-dunk to give Laney a 15-13 lead with 6:24 remaining in the second quarter. Javen Whitehead then flushed one after a sweet dish. And before I could blink, Zep Jasper and Christian Keeling got loss for a couple striding one-handers.

But this first half has been most notable by the highly skilled and patient play of the best players our town has. Keeling, Jasper, Donald Jordan, Domonique Hurst, and Javen Whitehead have been electric. We won't find a better 5 than they.

6:16 update:
Keshun Sherrill scored 27 points Saturday in Augusta University's 81-77. No basket was bigger than his three in the deep right corner that put the Jags ahead for good. Keshun gave his patented point to his favorite fans in the front row. And the Jags improved to 5-3 in Peach Belt play.

The Jags take on Young Harris at home Monday at 3:30.

4:45 update:
Westfield won 54-48 at Augusta Prep in a GISA region dual. The win completes a two day sweep by Westfield of the Augusta area's GISA 3A region representatives, Westminster and Prep.

Ryan Jolly led Augusta prep with 19 points.

4:40 update:
Alleluia blitzed Nat Greene 75-32.

4:30 update:
Senior Tommy Williams leads the Jaguars with 10 points, and Keshun Sherrill has scored 9 as Augusta University leads Columbus State 47-41 at halftime.

Freshman Ben Ursich made 2 three pointers in 2 tries. Tamyrik Fields has continued his stellar play in the post, scoring 6 first half points.

4:22 update:
Juniata topped USMMA 85-67 in Landmark Conferemce play. Augusta native Matt Miller scored 9 points and grabbed 7 rebounds as his Mariners fell to 4-5 in conference play. 

Below are previews of the first two of three games I am tracking today. And I'm getting updates from as many area games as possible. So this is your headquarters for area hoops action Saturday.

Matt Miller, a junior at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and former GAIS Eagle player of mine, scored 23 points and led his Mariners to a 66-65 win over NCAA Division III's #23 team Scranton Wednesday. USMMA improved its overall record to 8-6 and its Landmark Conference record to 4-4.

Matt is the team's second leading scorer at 14 points per game. The Mariners are fun to watch. Here are highlights of Matt from Wednesday's win, including his post game interview.

The second half of Saturday's double header involving my two favorite college teams features Augusta University's Jaguars, who return home to face Columbus after Wednesday's road win at Armstrong. Sophomore Tamyrik Fields scored a career high 22 points in the victory. The Peach Belt Conference road win was Augusta's second straight.

Senior Tommy Williams scored 15 points and scored the team's go ahead basket in Augusta's win over North Georgia. I show that basket, highlights from Fields's game at Armstrong, and the big shots made by freshman Aaron Byrd and junior Keshun Sherrill at Armstrong in this video.

Join me in watching this weekend's two double headers involving my two favorite college teams:

- USMMA vs Juniata at 2 PM:
- Augusta University vs Columbus State at 3:30 PM:

- USMMA vs Elizabethtown at 2 PM
- Augusta University vs Young Harris at 3:30 PM

Friday, January 15, 2016

@AugBball Previews and Updates: Friday, Jan 15

Thanks to everyone for sending scores, statistics, photos and video clips to @AugBball on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I did my best to keep this blog and all of the social media accounts full of interesting information and stories from Friday's games.

12:26 update:
Josey's Donald Jordan exploded for 35 points to lead his Eagles to a 73-56 region 3A win over Hephzibah. Norvette  Wilson added 12 and John Williams 11 in the win.

Hephzibah's Chauncey Baker led 4 Rebels in double figures with 13 points.

Josey enters Saturday's home game with league favorite Laney only one game behind the Wildcats.

12:16 update:
Breanna Wilson scored 29 points to lead Josey's Lady Eagles to a 78-65 region win over Hephzibah. Josey improved to 5-0 and set up a showdown at home versus region favorite Laney, who also enters Saturday's rivalry game undefeated.

In addition to Wilson, three more Lady Eagles scored in double figures. Brianna Dubose scored 15 points. Janiah Williams added 14 and Debbie Simmons chipped in 11.

Emani Mayo led all scorers with 32 points and her sister Nicollete Mayo added 14 in defeat.

12:06 update:
Laney topped Washington County 84-64 to improve to 15-1 overall and 5-0 in region 3A play. 

Christian Keeling scored 34 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, and dished 4 assists. Zep Jasper scored 16 points, assisted 8 times, and pulled down 6 rebounds.

Laney faces city rival Josey on the road Saturday.

11:50 update:
Laney's Lady Wildcats jumped to a 38-16 lead over region foe Washington County, and coasted to a 74-55 win at home Friday. Jhessyka Williams scored 19 points and sank 3 three pointers. Sophomore De'sha Benjamin scored 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Benjamin made 6 of 10 field goals and 6 of 8 free throws.

The Lady Wildcats bounced back nicely from last Saturday's non region loss to the state's top 3A team, Morgan County. After earning Friday's home win over Washington County, Laney can complete an important weekend sweep of its top region 3A competitors with a win at rival Josey's gym Saturday.

11:30 update:
Alleluia topped John Hancock 72-26 Friday.

11:25 update:
Lincoln County defeated Warren County 62-45. The Red Devils got contributions from many sources. Zach Crite led the way with 20 points. Devon Holloway scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Ahmad Rand flirted with a triple double, tallying 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 blocks. And Maciah Gunby dealt 9 dimes.

11:21 update:
Grovetown defeated Lakeside 77-70 in overtime behind 24 points from Shamar Barrett, 21 from Eric Graham, 11 from Trent Bowdre, and 10 from Chance Fugghett.

Lakeside's Deon Berrien scored 22 points and snagged 21 rebounds, and Kre'sean Hall added 17 points in defeat.

The result sets up a battle for second place in the sub region's standings as Lakeside will now visit Greenbrier Tuesday with both teams sporting a 3-2 record in league play.

Grovetown claimed its first league win in 5 tries. The Warriors are capable of making significant noise. Barrett, Graham, and Bowdre all score in bunches. I will not be surprised if Grovetown makes a run during the second half of the sub region schedule, which begins Tuesday.

11:05 update:
Greenbrier topped Evans 56-48 to improve to 3-2 in league play and set up a home game with Lakeside that will break a sub region 5A second place tie between the Columbia County rivals.

Senior Justen Hartfield scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 5 assists in the win. Jakob Nelson added 12 points.

Evans was led by Jo'el Grant's 18 points. The Knights fell to 1-4 in sub region 5A action.

10:50 update:
Westminster became the last area team to lose its first game Friday after falling to region foe Westfield 64-60. Jelani Watson-Gayle led the way with 23 points. Westminster's record stands at 13-1.

10:45 update:
More from Westside. The Patriots prevailed 65-61 over the Spartans of Glenn Hills behind 32 points from senior Trez Hawes

Glenn Hills coach Travis McRae was pleased with his team's performance and impressed by Hawes's play, saying he "made every play down the stretch."

Dekwan Lewis added 13 for the Patriots. CJ Bowers led Glenn Hills with 19 points. Robert Drew added 11.

10:20 update:
Thomson defeated Wayne County 69-44. Jucorius Thomas scored 16 and Raderan  Johnson added 15 in the win. Thomson's region record now stands at 2-1.

10:04 update:
Richmond handled Cross Creek 68-58 to improve to 5-0 in sub region play. The Musketeers have won 8 straight games.

Madison Williams scored 18 points, DT Stephens added 13, and Moses Williams chipped in 11 for the Musketeers.

Moses Jones scored 18 and Artis Chapman added 11 for the Razorbacks, who fall to 2-3 in subregion play.

9:57 update:
Greenbrier's Lady Wolfpack topped Evans 63-60 in overtime. Sydney Grayden scored 21 points to lead Greenbrier. Iman Andrews added 15. Mckenna Lawrence scored 26 points and Lexi Jeffcoat added 16.

Greenbrier improves to 4-1 and remains in a three way tie with Cross Creek and Grovetown.

9:52 update:
Westside beat Glenn Hills. I'm waiting on the score. But some awesome guys sent me video clips from the game's final minute. I'll share the final score and the clips soon.

9:46 update:
Westside and Glenn Hills are tied with 55 seconds remaining!

9:40 update:
Madison Williams has scored 19 points and grabbed 5 rebounds as his Richmond Academy Musketeers lead Cross Creek 55-48 with 4 minutes remaining.

9:36 update:
Glenn Gills leads Westside 47-43 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Sophomore Timmy Sellers has 6 blocks!

9:06 update:
Glenn Hills and Westside are tied at halftime. The Spartans are coming off a win at Butler and trying to hand Westside it's first loss to a team other than Laney!

9:02 update:
Grovetown's Lady Warriors blitzed Lakeside 77-20 to improve to 4-1 in sub region play. Grovetown has lost only one game this season.

Thomson leads Wayne County 32-19 at halftime.

8:55 update:
Richmond and Cross Creek are tied at 27 with 3 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Reports are that Cross Creek's Moses Jones and Richmond's Madison Williams and Moses Williams are playing well.

8:24 update:
Cross Creek's Lady Razorbacks topped Richmond 60-33.

And Greenbrier's Lady Wolfpack and Evans are tied at 54 at the end of regulation!

7:30 update:
Cross Creek's Lady Razorbacks lead Richmond 26-14 early. 6'2" Alana Davis, Augusta's best player, is off to a good start and that's never good for the opponent. Davis averages 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Because of a technicality, Greenbrier was recently rewarded a win over Cross Creek. There is now a three way tie between last season's power three: Cross Creek, Grovetown, and Greenbrier.

Below are my boys 3A and 5A Friday and Saturday previews. I'll update the site about the progress of as many teams, boys and girls, as possible in the Power Poll boundaries.

Before morning the site should be loaded with updates from Friday, previews for Saturday, and soon enough, action from Saturday's full slate.

For now enjoy the 3A and 5A boys previews for Friday's games.

Friday in 3A

WACO (2-3) at #2*Laney (4-0)
Glenn Hills (2-3) at #3 Westside (3-1)
Hephzibah (0-4) at Josey (3-1)

*denotes AugBball Power Poll ranking

Saturday in 3A

Laney at Josey
Westside at Hephzibah

3A region standings

#2* Laney 4-0
#3 Westside 3-1
Josey 3-1
Washington County 2-3
Glenn Hills 2-3
Butler 2-4
Hephzibah 0-4

Check out 3A Monday to see my reports from last week's key games between the region's top three teams: Power Poll #2 Laney, #3 Westside, and Josey. All three teams are the favorites in this Friday's matchups.

Laney and Josey will need to focus on the teams in front of them Friday and to resist the temptation of looking ahead to Saturday's classic rivalry game between two of our area's finest basketball programs.

AugBball Flashback Friday

#2 Laney hosts Washington County Friday. The Wildcats aim to improve to 5-0 before Saturday's game at long time rival Josey's gym. When Washington County visited Laney last season in the final weekend of the regular season, Christian Keeling and Jaylen Taylor put on a dunking exhibition. Keeling picked the ball handler clean and dunked with two hands twice in one quarter!

#3 Westside will also be wise to focus on its immediate opponent, Glenn Hills, and file away any thoughts of next weekend's double header against #2 Laney and #4 Richmond. Glenn Hills recently won at Butler 56-54 Saturday behind 22 points and 13 rebounds by 6'7" sophomore Timmy Sellers. Coach Travis Mcrae is very excited about Sellers's improvement. I am too.

Friday in 5A

Cross Creek (2-2) at #4 Richmond
#7 Lakeside (3-1) at Grovetown (0-4)
#8 Greenbrier (2-2) at Evans (1-3)

Region 5A standings
#4 Richmond (4-0)
#7 Lakeside (3-1)
#8 Greenbrier (2-2)
Cross Creek (2-2)
Evans (1-3)
Grovetown (0-4)

Richmond and Lakeside will aim to build the distance between their positions in the standings and Cross Creek, Evans, and Greenbrier's.

Cross Creek risks falling below .500 on the road at #4 Richmond. The Musketeers are red hot, having won 7 straight, the 4 most recent in league play. Moses Williams led Richmond with 23 points in Tuesday's 69-64 win over #8 Greenbrier.

Cross Creek has its own Moses. Jones that is, who has led the Razorbacks in wins over Grovetown and Evans, as well as Tuesday's loss to Lakeside.

Evans hosts #8 Greenbrier in rivalry game

Greenbrier's Hartfield and Nelson

Throw the records out the window for this one. The Knights host their county and sub region rival and have the chance to move into the top half of the league's standings. But #8 Greenbrier has been impressive. Seniors Justen Hartfield and Jakob Nelson lead the way with 16 and 11 point per game averages, respectively. And David Harris scores 9 points to go with his team leading 7 boards per contest.

Evans is led by seniors Jo'el Grant, Michael Steflik, and Chris Stone. Grant is a top ten area scorer at 18 points per outing. The 6'7" center Steflik scores 13 points and hauls in 7 boards per contest. And Stone, who averages 13 points, has made 58 threes this season, second in the area to Alleluia's Ben Dresser.
(Senior Nick Smith, above,
scored 12 points and
grabbed 4 rebounds in
Tuesday's win at Cross Creek.)

#7 Lakeside visits Grovetown

It would be a mistake for Power Poll
new kids Lakeside to look past 0-4 Grovetown Friday. The #7 Panthers are rolling after consecutive wins over #8 Greenbrier and Cross Creek (game report a couple sections above).

During Deon Berrien's first four games, the 6'5" junior forward has averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds per game, and the Panthers have won three of four league contests. Freshman Kalen Williams scores 16 points, grabs 4 rebounds and dishes 3 assists on average. Junior Kre'sean Hall averages 10 points and 7 rebounds. And senior Nick Smith scores 9 points per contest.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Power Poll: Morgan County tops Laney; three new teams in top 10

Morgan County's home win over Laney Saturday in the fifth meeting of the last two seasons between the state powerhouses proved to be the most exciting and impressive game of the week. Check out the game report (below) between the top two teams in the AugBball Power Poll and proceed to find the full list of teams in the bi-weekly poll's first revision since its New Year's Day debut.

AugBball Power Poll (Mid-January update)

1) Morgan County
2) Laney
3) Westside
4) Richmond
5) South Aiken
6) Westminster
7) Lakeside
8) Greenbrier
9) Lincoln County
10) Thomson

#1 Morgan County (13-3, 6-0)

Class 3A (region 8)

Morgan County handed Laney its first loss in nearly a year Saturday. And the Bulldogs now add to their list AugBball's #1 Power Poll ranking to go with their #1 ranking in Georgia's class 3A by GHSA expert Kyle Sandy.

Morgan County's senior Florida Atlantic University bound duo, Devorius Brown and Jailyn Ingram, scored 27 and 14 points, respectively, in the fifth matchup in 14 months between two of Georgia's most decorated teams. Senior Alec Woodard added 13 points.

Morgan County now turns its attention to Friday's home game against East Jackson, which features highly touted sophomore guards Drue Drinnon and Travis Anderson, who make appearances in this AugBball post about Miller Grove's Alterique Gilbert and former Laney guard Colin Young.

#2 Laney (14-1, 4-0)

Class 3A (region 3)

Region standings

#2 Laney 4-0
#3 Westside 3-1
Josey 3-1
Washington County 2-3
Glenn Hills 2-3
Butler 2-4
Hephzibah 0-4

Laney's Christian Keeling and Zep Jasper have piled up the points this season, averaging 25 and 22 points per game, respectively. And they have piled up the wins, tallying 89 and counting during their four years of varsity action.

The Wildcats follow last weekend's pair of rivalry games versus Butler and Morgan County with this weekend's set against region foe Washington County at home Friday, and long time city rival Josey on the road Saturday. It's a good thing for the Wildcats that they have had a few days off because this weekend's games are the first two of five in an eight day stretch that ends the following Friday in a much anticipated home game against region opponent Westside, the Power Poll's #3 team.

#3 Westside (8-2, 3-1)

Class 3A (region 3)

Region standings

#2 Laney 4-0
#3 Westside 3-1
Josey 3-1
Washington County 2-3
Glenn Hills 2-3
Butler 2-4
Hephzibah 0-4

Coaches, players, and fans talk about balance, unselfishness, and patience. It is much easier to preach about such things than to construct a basketball team that is as successful as Westside has been at practicing them. The statistics are starting to flow out of Westside, and it looks like five Patriots average 10 or more points per game: Trez Hawes (15 ppg), Justin Phillips (12), Christian Robinson (11), Dekwan Lewis (10), and Elijah Brown (10).

All five have been instrumental in the Patriots' run through almost every team in Augusta, including a pair of region wins last week over Butler and Josey:

Westside faces Glenn Hills Friday. The Spartans are flying high after a recent win at Butler. If Westside continues its roll and picks up wins Friday and Tuesday (versus Hephzibah), the Patriots' January 22nd showdown will be a chance for this impressive team to claim a share of first place in the region's standings. And the game will also give Westside a chance to avenge two close December losses to the Wildcats.

#4 Richmond (13-4, 4-0)

Class 5A (sub region 2A)

Sub region standings

#4 Richmond (4-0)
#7 Lakeside (3-1)
#8 Greenbrier (2-2)
Cross Creek (2-2)
Evans (1-3)
Grovetown (0-4)

"Richmond has so many good players" is a recent title for a YouTube video I made after the Musketeers' 81-56 rout of Lakeside, the sub region's second place team. It's not a particularly catchy title. But it seems accurate. With Madison Williams out for Tuesday's league game against Greenbrier, coach Steve Nobles had no shortage of capable players to pick up the scoring slack. 

Moses Williams, a 6'5" junior, scored 23 points as the Musketeers logged a 69-64 win. The game marked the first time a team has come closer than 22 points of Richmond in the team's last 7 games!

#5 South Aiken (10-3, 0-2)

Class 4A South Carolina (region 5)

Region standings

River Bluff (2-0)
Irmo 2-0
Lexington 1-1
North Augusta 1-1
White Knoll 0-2
South Aiken 0-2

After a scorching start to the season that included an 18 point non region victory over North Augusta and a 9 point win over Thomson (game report below), the Thoroughbreds have dropped two road games to its region's two leaders, River Bluff and Irmo. One of the few guidelines we voters use is that a team has to look like it is on track to be in contention for its league's championship to be in the Power Poll. Upcoming games against White Knoll (Friday), Lexington (Tuesday) and North Augusta (next Friday) give South Aiken a chance to get on the right track.

#6 Westminster (13-0, 1-0)

GISA Class 3A (region 4)

The guideline I described in the paragraph above about South Aiken weighed heavily in moving Westminster from just outside the top ten all the way to the sixth position. The Wildcats are the area's only remaining undefeated team and appear to be on a collision course with not just local rival Augusta Prep, but also league favorite Gatewood, both in region and post season play.

Westminster's team has a great blend of experience and young talent. Sophomore Michael Dukes and freshman TJ Wright played impressively in this non region win over Augusta Prep:

And junior Jelani Watson-Gayle, a transfer from England, has instantly become one of the town's best players. He scored 24 points in the team's most notable win, a 50-49 decision over Daniel High School, a South Carolina class 3A team that currently leads its league with a 5-0 record:

#7 Lakeside (8-8, 3-1)

Class 5A (sub region 2A)

Sub region standings

#4 Richmond (4-0)
#7 Lakeside (3-1)
#8 Greenbrier (2-2)
Cross Creek (2-2)
Evans (1-3)
Grovetown (0-4)

Coach Jody Hilley's team has benefitted from the addition of Deon Berrien, a 6'5" junior who became eligible just in time for region play. During Berrien's first four games, the forward has averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds per game, and the Panthers have won three of four league contests.

Several players have made key contributions. Freshman Kalen Williams scores 16 points, grabs 4 rebounds and dishes 3 assists on average. Junior Kre'sean Hall averages 10 points and 7 rebounds. And senior Nick Smith scores 9 points per contest. So while Berrien has changed the outlook, Lakeside has gotten timely contributions from various sources during its recent run, as you can see in the game report from Tuesday's win at Cross Creek:

#8 Greenbrier (10-8, 2-2)

Class 5A (sub region 2A)

Sub region standings

#4 Richmond (4-0)
#7 Lakeside (3-1)
#8 Greenbrier (2-2)
Cross Creek (2-2)
Evans (1-3)
Grovetown (0-4)

Greenbrier is the first team to challenge Richmond since before Christmas. But Tuesday's 69-64 road loss to the Musketeers has backed the Wolfpack into a bit of a corner. Bitter rivals Evans and Lakeside await Friday and Tuesday, respectively. Records are thrown out the window when these teams line up to compete. A pair of wins is needed if the Wolfpack plan to make its second meeting with Richmond one that factors heavily into the math at the top of the standings heading into region tournament play.

Much like Westside, Greenbrier has depended on a patient and balanced attack. But there are times when it helps to have a proven scorer with the ball in his hands. I wasn't at Tuesday's game at Richmond. But my guess is senior Justen Hartfield's 19 point, five three pointer outing was the kind of performance that is needed from the team's best player against a difficult opponent. I saw Hartfield post such a game in Greenbrier's season opener against Laney. Here is the game report:

#9 Lincoln County (10-3, 3-1)

Class 1A (region 7)

Region standings

Hancock Central 5-0
#9 Lincoln County 3-1
Georgia Military 2-2
Taliaferro County 1-3
Warren County 0-2
Glascock County 0-3

Had the Red Devils not dropped games to Evans and Grovetown over the holidays, I would have placed Lincoln County in the top ten in the January 1 debut of the Power Poll . Suspensions to Zach Crite (16 ppg, 7 rpg) and Maciah Gunby (10 ppg, 4 rpg) factored in to those losses. And the Red Devils seem to be on a track to challenge Hancock for leadership in the 1A region race.

Lincoln County's glaring advantage is in the paint where 6'7" junior Ahmad Rand (17 ppg, 16 rpg, 10 bpg) operates. And if his production weren't enough, Devon Holloway chips in 11 points and 10 boards per contest.

Rand changes games with his ability to block shots, rebound, and finish:

#10 Thomson (12-3, 1-1)

Class 4A (region 3)

Region standings

Liberty County 2-0
Burke County 1-1
Thomson 1-1
New Hampstead 1-1
Windsor Forest 1-1
Wayne County 0-2

Thomson's 100-53 loss to league favorite Liberty County has caused heads to be scratched. Liberty County's name rings far and wide, but 47 points is a lot! Cases could be made for including Burke County or North Augusta as the Power Poll's tenth team. But my case rests on the reappearance of the team I saw lead Laney by 5 points in the final quarter on the road two weeks ago:

Upcoming games against New Hampstead (Tuesday) and Burke County (January 22 in Thomson) will be chances to find out if I'm correct!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Berrien leads Lakeside; Lady Razorbacks coast; and @AugBball updates!

Thank you to everybody who updated me (@AugBball on social media) with Tuesday's scores while I was at Cross Creek. Below I share my update to you about Lakesides games at Cross Creek. Then I share all the updates you provided me...

Berrien leads Lakeside to win at Cross Creek; Lady Razorbacks coast

Deon Berrien scored 16 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in Lakeside's 56-54 road win over sub region foe Cross Creek Tuesday.

The Panthers improved to 3-1 in league play and claimed sole possession of the number two spot in the standings heading into Friday's game at Grovetown, which will be mark the 5A sub region's halfway point in the schedule.

Cross Creek visits league leader Richmond Friday.

In the girls game, the Lady Razorbacks followed Saturday's exciting home win over Grovetown with a dominating, 63-26 thumping of Lakeside. Cross Creek's Alana Davis scored 25 points, making 11 of 15 attempts, and grabbed 12 rebounds while KymMya Thomas scored 23 and rebounded 14 times.

Here are the @AugBball updates from Tuesday's action:

Evans topped Grovetown 78-64 to improve to 1-3 in 5A sub region action.

Michael Steflik scored 24 points, Austin Shead added 18, Jo'el Grant tallied 17, and Chris Stone drilled 4 first half threes and scored 14 for the game. The Knights face Greenbrier (2-2) Friday in a battle to stay close to league leaders Richmond (4-0) and Lakeside (3-1).

Shamar Barrett led all scorers with 31 points. Grovetown fell to 0-4 in sub region play.

Richmond topped Greenbrier 69-64.

Lincoln County beat Taliaferro 84-43. Zach Crite scored 19, Devon Holloway added 17, and Maciah Gunby added 15.

The Grovetown Lady Warriors defeated Evans 76-44.

The Augusta Eagles (homeschool) beat Alleluia 92-85. Alleluia was led by Ben Dresser, who scored 27 points and made 7 threes. Hayden Hebert scored 21 points, and Mac McBride added 19. See that game from the unique perspective of the "Angel cam" in the video below!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Westside-Josey, Laney-Morgan County (boys and girls); and Glenn Hills featured in "3A Monday" post

This "3A Monday" post is headquarters for my stories and videos about the weekend's best action in the 3A region. See the first update below. More updates are coming soon!

12:20 PM (Tuesday) update:

Morgan County hands Laney its first loss in a non region masterpiece

Two of Georgia's top basketball teams met Saturday in Madison and the Morgan County Bulldogs topped the Laney Wildcats 65-63 in the fifth meeting in the last two seasons between the state's #1 and #3 3A teams.

Devorius Brown (27), Jailyn Ingram (14) and Alec Woodard (13) led the way for the Bulldogs. Laney's Zep Jasper and Christian Keeling each scored 21 points to lead the Wildcats.

This update is the second to my "3A Monday" post (link above). So far, the post features what will soon be the three top teams in AugBball's Power Poll: Morgan County, Laney, and Westside (update below). These teams are also among the top ten 3A teams in the entire state as Westside clocked in at #9 in the most recent rankings by GHSA expert Sandy Spiel.

***Here are my game reports from past Laney-Morgan County matchups. I would submit this rivalry as Georgia's most exciting during this decade:

12/1/14 - Laney beats Morgan County at home

3/2/15 - Morgan County tops Laney in state semis

12/4/15 - Laney's comeback kids do it again; overcome 43-23 deficit to avenge playoff loss

8:00 PM (Monday) update:

Westside continues its scorching run with 51-43 win over Josey

Christian Robinson and Trez Hawes combined to score 7 points in 72 seconds and to turn a 27-24 Josey lead into a 31-27 Westside advantage with 1:31 left in the third quarter in Friday's region meeting between the two teams within striking distance of league leader Laney.

Soon after that spurt, Dekwan Lewis, who led all scorers with 16 points, finished a pair of drives. And Elijah Brown scored to give Westside a 43-36 advantage with 4:43 remaining in the game.

Lewis (16), Robinson (12), and Brown (10) led the way for the Patriots. Josey's Donald Jordan scored 15 points in defeat.

I applaud Sandy Spiel, the GHSA expert, for placing Westside on his list of the state's top ten 3A teams. The Patriots, who have not yet played poorly this season, stopped Josey's hot streak and set up a coming battle between the region's top team, Laney.

If current trends persist, the January 22-23 weekend will settle many disputes about which is the best team in region 3, and the city itself. Westside has played at an elite level all season. So has Laney, which is undefeated in region play, not to mention within Augusta's city limits. And as I tried to explain in my "5A Sunday" updates, no team is currently taking names like Richmond...

Special note: My next sentences are conditional on "current trends persisting," meaning Laney, Westside, and Richmond continue to coast through league play. I usually try not to look too far ahead, and I believe there are teams that can beat these league leaders before January 22 and 23. But trends are trends.

With a trio of such great teams, there should be no empty seats or spaces along the wall Friday, January 22, when Westside visits Laney (possibly) with the 3A region's top spot on the line. Or Saturday, January 23, when Westside hosts Richmond (possibly) for bragging rights between two elite teams, and even the area's two main regions.

But back to reality. Westside hosts Washington County Tuesday. My guess is the Patriots will be ready.