Saturday, June 25, 2016

Laney, Aquinas, and Hephzibah come out on top in Thursday's summer league session (full highlights)

One last week of high school summer league remains. Here are links to the posts here at with highlights from the girls games played at Butler in June on Tuesdays and Thursdays:

Cross Creek and Aquinas stay undefeated and Mayo leads Rebels to win at summer league

Laney and Cross Creek's girls impressive in Thursday's summer wins

Hamilton and Williams spur the Lady Wildcats past rival Josey

Sophomore Jaiden Hamilton made three first half threes and senior Jhessyka Williams added several buckets while Laney built a double digit lead over rival Josey before hanging on to win to stay undefeated in Thursday's summer league session at Butler.

The Lady Wildcats, and many of the fans at Butler last night, are now looking forward to Tuesday's 8:00 PM matchup with Cross Creek. Both teams are undefeated in the summer league at Butler. And the two teams have been Richmond County's top two teams for years now.

Aquinas improves to 5-1 with win over Butler

Aquinas defended hard, moved the ball crisply, and made enough shots to cruise past Butler, giving the Fighting Irish a 5-1 summer league record and setting up a showdown with Hephzibah Thursday at 4:00 PM.

The Lady Rebels, who sprinted past Glenn Hills Thursday after edging Josey last week, finish their June schedule with games at 4 PM against Butler Tuesday, and Aquinas Wednesday.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Laney, Lakeside, Evans, Glenn Hills roll at Wednesday's summer league

Laney rolls past Harlem

After five years without a summer league loss, Laney has been beaten three times in the first few weeks of June. But the Wildcats made quick work of now region opponent Harlem at Wednesday's summer league at Butler. I watched them come a steal and a dunk away from beating Richmond last week, and they handily beat Glenn Hills on opening night.

Laney has a proud tradition and a deep pipeline of talent. Along with senior Tahj Tanksley, who didn't play Wednesday, PJ Walker, Dejuan Griffin, and Donald Henley are a few of many guards in the Wildcats' system who position Laney nicely come winter time.

The Wildcats' reached the quarterfinal round of the class 3A state tournament last season after 6 consecutive trips to the state semifinals, including a state title (2012) in class 2A, to which the Laney will now return with the new region alignments.

The new 8 team class 2A region of interest to Augusta's basketball fans includes the following teams:

Laney, Westside, Butler, Josey, Glenn Hills, Harlem, Jefferson County, and Screven County

Like all teams, Laney will need to earn its way into the top half of that group to have a chance to make an eighth straight run in next season's state tournament. Of course we'll wait many months to know whether they will succeed. But before that long period begins, we can get one more sneak preview Wednesday when the Wildcats face arch rival Josey, who is unbeaten in June, on the last night of June's summer league schedule.

Evans is steadily improving

Fresh off a win over then unbeaten Richmond, Evans again knocked off Hephzibah Wednesday. The Knights have improved steadily all month. The more I learn about the team, the more optimistic I am about its future.

Sophomore Cameron Cabarrus and junior Will Caudill have both drained shots from deep all month. Kyle Driscoll and Duvall Cardwell have patrolled the paint and the glass on both ends, and they both pass, catch, and finish in transition. And two year varsity contributor Serron Spann, a junior point guard, sets a great example by willingly passing the ball ahead in transition, and by generally being a good and reliable teammate.

Coach Kevin Kenny has a deep roster of good players whose names I'm slowly learning. When Evans substitutes in waves of five, each group gives a proper defensive effort and shows a willingness to share the ball, like here:

Lakeside is loaded

After watching Evans and Lakeside put back to back beatings on Hephzibah and Cross Creek, respectively, I look forward to watching the decades long rivals meet possibly several times this winter.

Lakeside is more talented now than ever. Returning seniors Kresean Hall (11 ppg, 7 rpg) and Deon Berrien (15 ppg, 13 rpg) and sophomore Kalen Williams (14 ppg, 3 apg) have all consistently produced. And ready to contribute significantly are juniors Brad Hilley and Tucker Gilbert.

Sheppard and Whitehead lead Glenn Hills to an impressive win

Glenn Hills turned an explosive second half run into a comfortable win over Richmond Wednesday. The Spartans were led by two newcomers who have played inspired basketball this month. Senior transfer Tony Sheppard and freshman John Whitehead were relentless on the glass and disruptive on defense. Sheppard also made a pair of threes and Whitehead dunked one that I didn't get on film.

Without 6'7" junior Timmy Sellers and veteran guard Robert Drew, there was no shortage of contributors, including lefty guards CJ Bowers and Eric Farmer. And 6'5" Jeffrey Cabarrus provides yet another long an active presence in the paint.

Augusta Prep's Ryan Jolly recognized as one of state's best juniors

Ryan Jolly joined Isaiah Kelly of Pace Academy as the two Augusta raised players given spots in 's ranking of the top 20 players of the class of 2018. Jolly, a 6'0' guard, claimed the 15th spot while Kelly, a 6'6" post player who attended Augusta Christian before leaving the area after his freshman season, was tabbed the 5th best rising junior in Georgia.

I have not gotten to see Jolly and his Augusta Prep Cavs play in June, but the shooter with a smooth handle and a great feel for the game has obviously made quite the impression on the "Georgia Cup" circuit, which is hosted by Hoopseen, as a member of the Georgia Bulls AAU squad.

Here are AugBball posts featuring or including Jolly from this past season:

Augusta Prep edges Alleluia in home opener

Jolly, Watson-Gayle, Smith light up the scoreboard in preseason play

Monday, June 20, 2016

The best way for young players and their parents to think about basketball

The most interesting and the best things going on in youth basketball are described in this article from the New York Times. Specifically the logic Tyrous Ingram and his family use. I can't recommend it enough for people who care about these things to consider. Ingram's strategy is similar to the one I've watched Matthew Miller have so much success with. All the points made - about the need to clearly assess where you stand, and how difficult it is to play in college at any level, and the fact that the good Division III teams are dynamite and that almost every high school player should be thrilled to be able to play for them - were right on based on my experiences.

And I agree so much about basketball being one part of a much larger and more important life that I almost forgot to mention it. It's a fun saying and either is or was the name of a great website to see random basketball highlights, but Ball is most definitely Not Life.

Matt Miller is a great example of a player who has approached basketball like
Ingram (from the 
linked article above). Here is a link to many posts about Miller.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

NBA Finals Edition: Special Interview With Will Avery

Follow Will on Twitter: @Will_Avery5

My special guest Will Avery was drafted in the 1999 NBA lottery by the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he played three seasons of a more than decade long professional career. Before that he played two seasons at Duke after attending Oak Hill and Westside High here in Augusta, where he was a part of a state championship team in 1995.

Will is currently heavily involved in coaching, training, teaching, and mentoring the young and aspiring basketball players in our community. He is my go-to guy for all things basketball. Learn more about his activities at

I think Will and I say in the interview that this NBA season is the best we've ever seen. I've been blogging and tweeting (@AugBball) about the playoffs as much as possible. First the Thunder-Spurs series. Then the Warriors' comeback against the Thunder. And now right after Lebron James's historic two game stretch and as we are looking forward to game 7 in Golden State, I asked Will to let me record our conversation about this great NBA run and the final game of the season Sunday.

Bonus: During the last few minutes of the interview, Will updates us about a few notable local girls basketball players, which is timely with the high schools in the middle of their summer league schedule and the AAU evaluation period coming.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cross Creek and Aquinas stay undefeated and Mayo leads Rebels to win at summer league

If you follow @AugBball on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, you may have seen my live highlights and updates from Thursday's summer league girls games at Butler. Here are the complete highlights and some thoughts from the three games I watched:

Cross Creek sprints past Butler

Like most of the other times Cross Creek plays an area team, the Lady Razorbacks picked apart Butler with their signature execution. A quick Butler run narrowed Cross Creek's 9 point halftime lead to 2 at 27-25 early in the second half. But the momentum quickly turned and never turned back as the Lady Razorbacks spent little time dribbling aimlessly and much time running the floor, throwing the ball ahead, and finishing fast break opportunities before claiming a 53-27 win.

Hephzibah's Mayo leads Rebels to victory over Josey

Emani Mayo made a three with less than a minute remaining to put Hephzibah ahead of Josey 34-33, and she immediately stole the ball to secure the 39-35 summer league win. Mayo, her sister Nicolette Mayo, and Josey's Brianna Dubose, all return to teams that reached the class 3A state tournament the past two seasons. In November, Hephzibah will move to class 4A and battle preseason region favorite Cross Creek. Josey will move down to class 2A, as will favorite Laney and many other Richmond County schools.

After two spurts, Aquinas tops Josey

Aquinas scored 10 straight points to take a 21-11 lead early in the second half. And after Josey made a run of its own, the Fighting Irish battled back from a three point deficit, scoring 9 points quickly on two buckets each by Erin Rush and Jasmine Sanders, and taking a 33-32 lead before Mary Kate Williamson sealed the 35-32 win with a late field goal.

Links to recent posts about Butler's summer league

Laney and Cross Creek's girls impressive in Thursday's summer wins

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Richmond and Josey stay unbeaten; Glenn Hills wins third straight; andmore summer league highlights

If you follow @AugBball on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you may have seen my live highlights and updates from Wednesday's summer league games at Butler. In this post are the FULL highlights from 4 of the games.

Williams brothers connect for game winner

Richmond remains unbeaten in June

Younger brother Isaiah Williams fed older brother Moses Williams, who flushed home a dunk seconds before the final buzzer to break a 38 all tie and preserve the Musketeers' unbeaten streak. Isaiah, a rising sophomore did a great job thwarting Laney's Donald Henley's attack on the defensive possession, which ended in a Henley turnover, that led to the game winning basket. Williams had also made several key baskets in the second half, none bigger than the three he made to tie things at 38, leading to the final play.

Butler's scoring spree propels unbeaten Josey to another win

Josey's depth and experience are difficult to match

Four Josey players have played major roles in the team's back-to-back state tournament runs. Throughout the past two season's, senior Johnathan Butler has been a dangerous scorer on the perimeter. When Lakeside appeared to control the game Wednesday, Butler responded with a pair of threes and a feed that led to a point blank Javen Whitehead dunk, all of which combined to give the Eagles another summer league win, their fourth in as many tries.

Glenn Hills wins third straight

Drew, Farmer, Sheppard have paced the Spartans

Robert Drew, Eric Farmer, and Antonio Sheppard have been dynamite in wins this week over Butler and Harlem. Drew and Farmer have consistently made shots from all over the court, and Sheppard dominated the offensive glass in the second half of Wednesday's 42-36 win over Harlem.

Evans 49, Hephzibah 39

Cardwell and Spann impressed

Junior Serron Spann, who is approaching his third season as a key member of Evans's varsity team, involved his teammates and scored key baskets, and the Knights earned a win over Hephzibah Wednesday. Duvall Cardwell continued his consistent play. And Hephzibah continued to show signs of improvement.

Links to recent posts about Butler's summer league

Don Coleman, Darius Williams: AugBball's Throwback Thursday, Summer Edition

Don Coleman, Darius Williams: AugBball's Throwback Thursday, Summer Edition

Believe it or not, there was a time in my AugBball blogging days when I thought then rising sophomores Don Coleman and Darius Williams, who would become two of the area's greatest high school scorers from the past decade or so, were complimentary players. The Throwback Thursday post below is from a 2012 Butler-Josey summer league showdown that shows the two up and comers and how I believed they fit in the local scene at the time. The post was originally shared here.

***Special note: It has been wonderful seeing Don the past several days at the Butler summer league. He leaves tomorrow to begin his sophomore year at the University of California. He'll be a great Bear. I am very proud of him. He has become a very impressive man in every way.***

Butler vs Josey (#TBT)

June 12, 2012

This was one of the most entertaining games of the young summer. The two teams are quite similar. Both are led by a senior forward with a great deal of experience and leadership ability.

Josey's Kyle Doyle (6'6") was very effective scoring in the paint off the dribble and in the post, and he repeatedly found teammates for easy baskets when the defense focused on keeping him out of the paint. And Butler's Ronald Jones (6'6") scored in the post and rebounded effectively throughout the game. Jones also made a three pointer and multiple jump shots off the dribble.

But Doyle and Jones both got help from their shorter teammates. Sophomores Darius Williams (Josey) and Dontae Coleman (Butler) attacked the basket constantly in transition and nailed jump shots in the half court offense. And senior Marquis Leverett (Butler) ran the Bulldogs offense, scoring at key times.

After Leverett gave Butler a late 4 point lead (40-36), Doyle drilled a three pointer and Williams scored on an inbounds play to give Josey a 41-40 lead. But with less than 5 seconds remaining, Jones scored on an inbounds play to give Butler the victory. Enjoy the highlights directly below.

Here are two recent posts about Don and Darius that will bring you up to speed with their progress on the court:

Don Coleman makes stop in Augusta before heading to California

Ashley Brown brings us up to speed with two of Augusta's most explosive scorers

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Glenn Hills notches big win; Richmond and Josey stay undefeated; Watson-Gayle pours in the points

Butler Summer league schedule
Friday and Monday I watched over 10 boys high school summer league games at Butler. I shared live highlights at the @AugBball social media accounts:

As you can see to the right, the boys are back in action tonight.

But before those games tip off, I'll share the full highlights and a few of my thoughts from the last two game days at Butler.

Glenn Hills snaps Butler's hot streak

Butler responded to an opening night loss to Richmond with a string of blowout victories over good teams like Laney and North Augusta. I thought they would continue to roll over rival Glenn Hills Monday, especially because 6'7" Timmy Sellers would sit with an injury. But Robert Drew made a barrage of shots in the first half to help Glenn Hills claim a double digit lead. And Eric Farmer made key baskets in the final minutes of regulation and overtime to give the Spartans an impressive victory in what may have been the best game I've seen this summer.

More impressive than winning without Sellers was winning while Butler played so well. Deandre Barton, Will Lambert, Keith Littles, and Drez McBride continued their scorching hot play. Before the loss to Glenn Hills, the Bulldogs had followed their blowout win over Laney with this thumping of North Augusta:

Richmond and Josey remain undefeated

Friday Richmond rolled past Baldwin, which is led by head coach Buck Harris, the former Laney coach. And Monday Josey coasted past Hephzibah. These are the only undefeated teams I've followed through the first eight days of summer ball. Several of their wins are featured in the past several blog posts. Here are the highlights from their most recent games that I've watched:

You'll see on the schedule above that Josey plays Lakeside and Richmond plays Laney Wednesday night. Staying unbeaten will not be easy. I'll share the action live, so tune in.

The summer's hottest player: Westminster's Jelani Watson-Gayle

The returning Augusta Chronicle Independent School Player of the Year played Friday with Alleluia, and he played better than anybody I watched during the first week of summer action. Here are Watson-Gayle and his one day Alleluia teammates like Ben Dresser, Elliot Balducci, and Sam and Ben Freed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Laney and Cross Creek's girls impressive in Thursday's summer wins

Thursday began a marathon of summer basketball at Butler as more than 25 boys and girls high school games were played in a 24 hour period. And Monday, the boys were back at Butler for another round of games. I watched and shared live as much of the action as possible from all three days at @AugBball's Facebook and Twitter accounts. This is the first of probably three posts with the full highlights and many thoughts from me about the 10 plus games I watched at Butler the past few days.

*Note: If you don't already follow @AugBball's Facebook/Twitter/Instagram accounts, consider it. Almost everything I do for AugBball is shared live there and may or may not be posted at this blog because if I haven't done an added level of coverage and research I may not repost here just for the sake of reposting.*

I've reported about a couple dozen boys games in the summer schedule's first eight days. And although I've seen fewer girls games, I've certainly seen some impressive play after I added summer league games with Laney, Cross Creek, and Josey to recent Westminster and Georgia Soul (pro) games.

Before focusing on Laney and Cross Creek individually, I'll give my general impression that both basketball programs are obviously doing good things to have the kind of participation from so many dedicated players and the interest from so many supporters they have (Butler was packed for the teams' final games Thursday at 7 and 8 PM). I estimate Laney's summer roster goes 20 deep, and I counted more than three new Cross Creek players who, like their veteran teammates, are highly skilled and play together very well. Successful programs are like magnets for ambitious players, and this is a very good thing.

Laney tops Butler (June 9)

The Laney Lady Wildcats resemble their male peers in that their roster too is stacked with capable guards. Aubrianna Bonner is as good as any player in the area in the open court. She defends, pushes the pace, attacks the basket, finds teammates, rebounds misses, and makes threes... Then she does it all again. Ditto for junior Jhessyka Williams, sophomore Jaiden Hamilton, and senior Jasmine Bartlett. Three of these four leaders were major contributors to Laney's 2014 state title run, and all four played and produced during last season's 25-5 run to the elite eight round. And you'll notice in the video above there are more players whose names I need to learn. I'll be sure to do that Thursday at 8 PM at Butler when I next see the Lady Wildcats in a game against Richmond.

Cross Creek's runs past Josey with strong second half

After a 21-7 run to the second round of last season's state tournament, the Lady Razorbacks return basically everyone, including this foursome of proven producers:

Alana Davis: 22 ppg, 58% fg, 12 rpg, 2 bpg
Nya Daniels: 12 ppg, 5 apg, 5 rpg, 41 threes
KymMya Thomas: 14 ppg, 7 rpg, 42 threes
Valence Avery: 5 ppg, 5 rpg

These players, along with rising sophomore Kianni Westbrook and a few promising players I don't yet know, excelled in the highlights (above) of Thursday's win over Josey. Cross Creek's prospects for improving on an impressive 2015-16 are promising to say the least.

And I like Josey's prospects as well. Coach Juwan Durham's Eagles tallied 19 wins last season, an 8 game improvement over the prior season. Senior Brianna Dubose, #12 in the highlights above, and sophomore Tykedra Rolland (#25) seemed capable of leading Josey even though the Eagles lost much production to graduation.

***My next post(s) here will feature 9 boys games played at Butler Friday and Monday. And I'll be back in the gym Wednesday and Thursday. For updates from those games and to basically never miss anything I do:

Follow @AugBball on social media for live updates from summer league games

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Video highlights of all 5 of Wednesday's summer league games at Butler

The following are my reports from Wednesday's summer league games at Butler. Here are some more links for further reading/viewing:

Butler 61, Laney 40

The home team Bulldogs outscored Laney 36-19 in the second half of the evening's finale to clinch a 61-40 win and start 1-1 in league play. Deandre Barton continued his obsessed play, and teammates Will Lambert, Keith Littles, and Mardrez McBride added plenty of assistance. The win evens Butler's record at 1-1 after a loss to Richmond Monday.

Richmond 43, Lakeside 39

Richmond continued to roll with a 43-39 win over Lakeside as Moses Williams started strong and DT Stephens finished things to give the Musketeers two wins this week. Richmond improved to 2-0 after beating Butler Monday. Coach Steve Nobles's team played without senior Jason Weaver, who watched from the bench in street clothes, but contributions from Stephens, Williams, and others were plenty to hold off the surging Panthers.

Josey 55, Cross Creek 29

Josey destroyed Cross Creek 55-29 to follow Monday's win over Evans to start 2-0. Javen Whitehead was once again dominant, and I can't help saying again that simply watching him grab defensive rebounds is one of the most entertaining things in local basketball. But the victory was certainly a team success.

Glenn Hills 32, Evans 26

Timmy Sellers made the crowd at Butler buzz with several high flying finishes and Robert Drew scored the game's final 5 points as Glenn Hills withstood a second half Evans run. The Spartans' record stands at 1-1.

Hephzibah 35, Harlem 26

Hephzibah improved to 1-1 after Travis Sturgis and Robert Johnson, both freshmen who figured prominently in Spirit Creek's Richmond County middle school tournament championship, led the Rebels to a 35-26 win over Harlem.

Follow @AugBball on social media for live updates from summer league games and much more:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Laney-Butler headlines summer league; Richmond will test Lakeside

Follow @AugBball on social media for live updates from summer league games
AugBball on YouTube

Butler vs Laney (8PM)

These teams always bring it when they square off. And Laney and Butler's top producers Monday were four guys who always compete fiercely. Laney's Tahj Tanksley and Donald Henley and Butler's Deandre Barton and Will Lambert gobble up rebounds and loose balls. And they only know one speed and one direction. Those are compliments.

I can't think of a better way to end the second night of summer league action at Butler than matchup, especially after February's region tournament semifinal showdown, which almost saw Butler score the upset.

Richmond vs Lakeside (7PM)

Although the Musketeers are no longer a sub region rival, Lakeside, a team with high expectations from yours truly and I would think others too, can still use Richmond as a measuring stick. 

For Lakeside, which was led by freshman Kalen Williams last season, Madison Williams and company were much too much for the Panthers to handle:

But with essentially the entire Lakeside roster returning, and with much of Richmond's having graduated, I would expect new coach Jeff Williams to be wanting to show some progress against what may eventually be the area's best team. Here are Williams and 6'5" senior Deon Berrien when the teams met in January:

Challenging Richmond may be easier said than done, of course. DT Stephens, Jason Weaver, and Moses Williams were frequently the team's top producers last season. And they look comfortable and in command early in the June season (see Monday's results).

Cross Creek vs Josey (6PM)

Cross Creek still should be on top of the clouds after last season's third place class 5 region tournament finish and trip to the state tournament, the Razorbacks first in a very long time. Last season's turnaround team was packed with seniors, but Artis Chapman returns. And coach Brian Anderson will benefit from a strong crop of JV and middle school talent that has been making its way through the Razorbacks' feeder teams.

One of Josey's most impressive outings last season was it's December home win over Cross Creek. Javen Whitehead and Domonique Hurst were physically imposing in the paint that winter night (see directly below), much like they were in Monday's win over Evans.

Glenn Hills vs Evans (5PM)

6'7" junior Timmy Sellers is very impressive:

I hope he gets the ball in position to show it Wednesday, something that didn't happen once during the first half of Monday's 43-34 loss to Laney. (I missed the second half due to camera battery issues so I missed Glenn Hills's 23-13 second half run that cut the Wildcats' once 18 point lead to 7.)

After losing several seniors from last season's starting five, Evans showed no sign in Monday's loss to Josey of needing to rebuild. Sophomore Cameron Cabarrus and junior Will Caudill played as well Monday with the varsity team as I saw them play during Christmas with Evans's JV team.

Harlem vs Hephzibah (4PM)

Harlem and Hephzibah combined for two wins, both by Harlem, last season. I don't joke when I say a major benefit of this game is one team gets to win. Winning is a habit that needs to be practiced. My brief observations of these teams last season (Harlem lost a close one to Greenbrier and Hephzibah challenged Evans on the road) make me believe they can both become winners. My dad has told me my grandfather constantly reminded him we all put on our pants one leg at a time. I'm pulling for these teams to take that to heart and to begin building a winning tradition.

Here is a link to my report of last November's Evans-Hephzibah game:

And here is a link to my report from last November's Greenbrier-Harlem game:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Richmond, Laney, Josey, and Westminster's girls tip off the summer with wins

I previewed Monday's tip-off to the June high school summer league schedule here. And last night I shared 12 videos live from 4 games at Harlem and Butler at @AugBball's social media accounts. Be sure to follow there on game days:

I'll be back at Butler Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for tons of games. I'll preview those boys and girls games for you hopefully Wednesday morning.

Here are Monday's high school summer league highlights and thoughts from AugBball:

Richmond never trailed Butler and the Musketeers looked ready to continue the success they achieved during last season's class 5A region runner up finish and trip to the second round of the state tournament. DT Stephens, Moses Williams, and Jason Weaver make a great nucleus for coach Steve Nobles to work with.

Butler may have never led Monday's game, but the Bulldogs look as good as ever behind seniors Deandre Barton and Will Lambert. Both are forces of nature. This matchup was everything we could expect from the closer on the first night of summer league play.

Laney may still have the deepest team in town, even after losing division one bound guards Christian Keeling and Zep Jasper. As I said in Monday's preview, Donald Henley and Tahj Tanksley have been two of Augusta's best players for over a year. They linked up with the core of last season's juggernaut of a JV team and sprinted out to a 29-11 first half lead over Glenn Hills before withstanding a second half Spartans run and notched a 43-34 win.

Josey is once again possibly the area's most talented team. Javen Whitehead, John Williams, and Dominique Hurst, all about 6'3" with great leaping ability, can defend and rebound and run. The trio did a lot of that in the Eagles double-digit win over Evans.

The Knights have a promising team that includes two sharp shooters, Will Caudill and Cameron Cabarrus, who played well for the JV team last season.

I expected to watch Westminster's Lady Wildcats play Harlem Monday afternoon. The schedule changed and Westminster faced Evans instead. But the real news was of the newest member of the team.

Desha Benjamin, who during her freshman and sophomore seasons at Laney has won a state championship and earned Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year honors, will transfer to Westminster. She and her new teammates, Bobbi Wardwell, Ashley Davis, Genevieve Waller and others, bolted to a 31-10 lead over the Knights and looked like a potential new area power.

Bonus coverage:
Things weren't all bad Monday for the Lady Knights of Evans, who ended their matchup against Harlem with an 11-3 run to earn a 29-25 win. Lexi Jeffcoat is crafty with the dribble and she knows how to score.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The high school summer league begins today!

***Check the @AugBball Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram timelines for tons of highlights from the games I previewed below. I'll summarize what I saw and share that along with my thoughts here at the blog as soon as possible. I'll be back in the gyms Wednesday for more summer league action so stay tuned!***

Summer league is unique to high school basketball. No other level of basketball plays another season during the off season (including the NBA because that summer league mostly consists of players not on an NBA roster). Throughout June, teams will play the same opponents they face November through February, and opponents that they don't play during the regular season. And some will play as many or more games in June as many other high school teams do the entire winter.

Done right, summer league is every bit as intense as any game that "counts." For many years, Butler High has packed its gym on weekday afternoons for the RCBOE hosted league (boys play on Mondays and Wednesdays and girls play on Tuesdays and Thursdays). Most area teams play in this league and also randomly schedule 10 or more games at various camps and scrimmage jamborees in June.

I'll watch as much high school basketball as I can this month. And I'll share what I see at all the AugBball sites:

It seems like the regular season just ended, so I'm grateful the players and coaches are getting back at it so soon!

Here are my plans for Monday:

Westminster at Harlem (girls)
The last time I saw Westminster play, Bobbi Wardwell led a frantic fourth quarter comeback win over Westfield in the semifinals of last season's region tournament.

The Lady Wildcats have an impressive roster of young players. Wardwell is a junior. So is guard Ashley Davis. She and freshman Genevieve Waller are both shown in this report from the game referred to above.

In year's past, a June matchup with Harlem would be the only opportunity for these teams to meet. But with the recent decision to allow GHSA and GISA teams to play during the regular season, the Wildcats and the Bulldogs are scheduled to play again this Winter.

Here's to a new and more sensible day. And perhaps to a new rivalry!

At Butler
Evans vs Josey (6PM)
These teams showed potential last season. Josey was the first local team to top Laney in over two seasons in one of the winter's most exciting games.

During that showdown at Josey, senior Javen Whitehead scored the most impactful 11 points I've seen in a while. John Williams, Jonathan Butler, and Domonique Hurst have contributed a great deal to back-to-back state tournament runs for the Eagles. I see no reason Josey can't continue that string of appearances in class 2A, the new home to five of the city's teams.

Evans also showed flashes last season. But this summer and the coming season will feature almost exclusively new names. Coach Kevin Kenny has a strong crop of young players who may lead the Knights back to the state tournament after a two year break.

At Butler
Laney vs Glenn Hills (7PM)
Augusta's two most recent state champs will meet in a preview of a matchup we may see as many as four times come winter. These are the kinds of summer league games many coaches hate. But as an observer and fan, I love them.

Laney will move forward without Christian Keeling and Zep Jasper for the first time in more than four years. Donald Henley and Tahj Tanksley have been two of the town's best players for more than a year. I expect them to step nicely into leadership roles.

And I believe last season's JV team, which was led by Sebastian Marmolejo and Dejuan Griffin among many fine players, will be the source of many difference making Wildcats for coach Shaun Parks to develop.

Laney's crosstown and now class 2A rival Glenn Hills and the development of a strong group of young players has many people optimistic the Spartans will make this their comeback season. 6'7" junior Timmy Sellers produced in bunches last season, scoring in the post and above the rim, when he wasn't slowed by foul trouble. This is the third varsity season for guards Eric Farmer and Robert Drew, who should both contribute to a turnaround for coach Travis Mcrae's Spartans.

At Butler
Richmond vs Butler (8PM)
I said above that when done right, summer league can be great. Well these last two matchups at Butler show the Board of Education's athletic department is trying to do it right!

The Musketeers and Bulldogs split a pair of games during the first weeks of last season. The games were well played and quite memorable.

And here is the report from the rematch:

Richmond had as good a season as any area team after losing in the second round of the class 5A state tournament to eventual state champion Miller Grove. Junior DT Stephens and seniors Jason Weaver and Moses Williams can form the nucleus of a team that is headed for more post season success.

And Butler has no shortage of impact players returning. I expect seniors Deandre Barton and Will Lambert to set the tone with physical and athletic play as the home team finishes what should be a good first day of high school summer league play!

*duel not dual

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Georgia Souls scores 51 second half points to cruise past Beaufort

The Georgia Soul responded nicely to its only loss of the season, storming past the Beaufort Bisons 77-64 Saturday at Greenbrier Middle to improve to 4-1 in WBCBL action. LaCoya Terry (21 points) and newcomer Morgan Stroman (17) led the way during the team's 51 point second half that turned a 7 point deficit into a comfortable win.

Also contributing were Eboni Fields (9 rebounds and 4 assists); Taylor Ayers (4-5 field goals); Special Jennings (6 assists); and Wilka Montout (8 points).

The Soul hosts the South Carolina Storm June 11 at Evans High.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Warriors entire roster steps over the King's Cavs

Game 1 of the Golden State-Cleveland NBA Finals was watched by more people than any Finals game since game 1 of the 2001 Finals when Allen Iverson and the 76ers stepped over the eventual champion LA Lakers, or specifically over current Cavs coach Tyron Lue.

But we fans of last night's game had to be disappointed. As you can see in this analysis by "coach Nick", the best basketball man on the internet, Cleveland absolutely did not come to play defensively. I underestimated the attention to detail needed for OKC to take a 3-1 lead and hold several double-digit second half leads in elimination games over Golden State in the Western Conference Finals, a series that will be remembered. Hats off to the Thunder.

And shame on the Cavs. At least when Lue was stepped over by Iverson in 2001, Lue was contesting and making the Answer make something out of nothing. Coach Nick will show you why so many players (Livingston, Iguodala, Barbosa, Barnes) whose offensive games did not stand up against OKC exploded versus the Cavs Thursday. It really wasn't very hard. Tons of easy shots in the paint. Many without a defender nearby.
Hopefully King James and the many offensive phenoms on his side figure out how to find a man, communicate so bodies stay attached, and take away these easy baskets. Or Golden State is going to continue to step over the Cavs in a way that makes Iverson's stride 2001 look slight.