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BASKETBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEWS 

Check out today's SHSSN as we break down today's state basketball finals: Class AAAA boys and girls and
Class A-Public boys and girls. Also, see who the two head coaches will be for this year's Elite Junior Classic. 
 

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In This Issue
Trivia
Finals Schedule
Falcons Moms Clinic
Boys AAAA Preview
Girls AAAA Preview
Boys A-Public Preview
Girls A-Public Preview
Falcons Moms Clinic
Score Poll
Top Stories
Trivia
Question: 
How many consecutive finals appearances have the Columbia boys made? 
 
Today's answer can  
be found in the newsletter!

 

Wednesday's answer:

Jasmine Carter and Asia Durr combined for 49 of St. Pius X's 51 points in their quarterfinals victory over Morgan County.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

 

Thursday, March 6

 

Class A-Public

Girls

Mitchell County vs. Randolph-Clay (3 pm)

 

Class A-Public

Boys

Wilkinson County vs. Turner County (4:45 pm)

 

Class AAAA

Girls

Columbus vs. Redan (7 pm)

 

Class AAAA

Boys

Jonesboro vs. Columbia (8:45 pm)

 

 

Friday, March 7

 

 

AAASP Wheelchair

Henry County vs. Houston County (12 pm)

 

Class AA

Girls

Kendrick vs. Wesleyan (3 pm)

 

Class AA

Boys

Calhoun vs. GAC (4:45 pm)

 

Class AAAAA

Girls

Tucker vs. SW DeKalb (7 pm)

 

Class AAAAA

Boys

Warner Robins vs. Miller Grove (8:45 pm)

 

 

Saturday, March 8

 

Class A-Private

Girls

SW Atlanta Christian vs. Holy Innocents' (11 am)

 

Class A-Private 

Boys

Whitefield Academy vs. St. Francis (12:45 pm)

 

Class AAA

Girls

Buford vs. St. Pius X (3 pm)

 

Class AAA

Boys

Buford vs. Morgan County (4:45 pm)

 

Class AAAAAA

Girls

McEachern vs. Archer (7 pm)

 

Class AAAAAA

Boys

Wheeler vs. Tift County (8:45 pm)






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Thursday, March 6, 2014


HEADS UP FOOTBALL CLINIC


COLLEGE LACROSSE AT RIVERWOOD
Tech-Auburn lacrosse will meet Friday at Riverwood High 

Men's College Lacrosse returns to Riverwood High School's Hoskyn Stadium this Friday as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will face the Auburn Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance/$15 at the gate. Advance tickets available from any member of the Raider Boys Lacrosse Program or through Atlanta Youth Soccer, Play it Again Sports by clicking HERE. Riverwood alums Skyler Cassidy and Brian Yoon (both Class of 2012) are members of the Auburn team. Proceeds from the event benefit the Riverwood's Boys Lacrosse program. 

ELITE JUNIOR CLASSIC


Elite Junior Classic selects head coaches for 2014 event

The Elite Junior Classic has announced the two head coaches for the second installment of the all-star football game slated for Dec. 29, 2014. Norcross head coach Keith Maloof will coach the North team and Lamar County head coach Franklin Stephens will lead the South squad. Maloof has guided Norcross to consecutive state titles in Georgia's highest classification and included a perfect 15-0 season in 2012. Maloof graduated from St. Pius X where his father served as head coach for 26 seasons.

 

Keith Maloof 

Maloof's experience includes 30 years of coaching and 19 years as a head coach. In addition to a 143-61 career coaching record and 70.1 winning percentage, Maloof's know-how in working with the state's top prospects is among the best in the business. Norcross had more than two-dozen seniors sign football scholarships this year and the Gwinnett school has turned into one of the most prolific talent factories in the nation when it comes to producing college athletes. Last night at the Atlanta Sports Awards, Maloof was named Coach of the Year over all other Atlanta-area coaches, including candidates from college and pro sports.

 

Franklin Stephens

Stephens shares a similar resume with two state titles at Tucker, including a perfect season in 2011. However, Stephens' impressive track record has been built in just seven seasons as a head coach. Stephens led Lamar County to the Class AA state finals last season and has gone 26-2 in his two years at the school. Prior to his arrival, the Trojans had won 10 games in a season just twice since 1970. The Keysville, Ga. native played for Burke County and was the Southern Conference lineman of the year at Georgia Southern in 1994. Stephens served as Tucker's head coach from 2007-2011 and led the Tigers to their only two state titles. With Tucker, Stephens coached more than 13 all-state selections. Stephens owns a 90-8-1 career record (91.4 percent) and was able to be a part of the inaugural Elite Junior Classic this past season, serving as a defensive assistant on the South team. 

 

Having two head coaches that are so accustomed to winning and coaching Georgia's elite crop of talent increases both the appeal of the game and the experience of the players.

 

For more information on the event, go to www.elitejuniorclassic.com

BOYS CLASS AAAA FINALS PREVIEW
By Craig Sager II
Decorated Eagles await high-flying Jonesboro

 

COLUMBIA

28-4, REGION 6

The Eagles are back in the finals for a fifth consecutive March and a win would give the program its sixth state title. Columbia fell short in last year's championship to Eagle's Landing and ended a streak of three consecutive titles.

 

Photo by Ty Freeman

This year's road to Macon has been challenging and the Eagles had to rally from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit to Fayette County in the second round before escaping Westover in the semifinals on a Keuntay Puckett tip-in at the buzzer. 

 

One of the major challenges to start this season was re-placing point guardTahj Shamsid-Deen, who graduated and is now playing for Auburn. Shamsid-Deen was a three-time recipient of the AJC's Class AAA Player of the Year and a major driving force of the school's last three championships.Head coach Kerry Sandifer and the Eagles had to adapt to this year's team strengths and as a result the Eagles are attacking defenses as well as they ever have. Guards Puckett and Anthony Rice were able to pickup the slack in the backcourt, while Maurice Rivers, Nick Singleton and Shadell Bell have helped Co-lumbia dominate opponents in the paint. 

 

In the second-round win over Fayette County, Columbia not only erased the nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win 67-58, but the Eagles did so by scoring a whopping 27 points in the quarter despite only attempting three three-pointers the whole game. The Eagles made 20-of-25 free throws and used their ability to finish at the rim to spark the comeback.Singleton scored game-highs of 19 and 20 in the opening two rounds and four players finished in dou-ble-figures in the quarterfinals. Maurice Rivers led with 19 points and 22 rebounds and Singleton notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. In the semifinals, Puckett's game-winning tip-in gave him a postseason-best 17 points.  

  

 

JONESBORO

26-6, REGION 4
The Cardinals' roster of emerging stars withstood a remarkable 46-point performance from Alexander's Hassani Gravett in the semifinals and held on for a 78-75 win in overtime. Now, the Cardinals need just one more win to bring home its first ever-state title. Jonesboro's lineup has continued improving each week of the season, and since the start of this epic postseason run, the Cardinals are peaking at the right time. Elijah Wade was the first to elevate his production and the senior led the Cardinals in their 58-47 opening round win over Perry with a season-high 15 points to go with a season-high 14 rebounds. 

 

The second round saw freshman sensation James Walker Jr. take center stage and he's been lighting up the scoreboard ever since. Walker scored a career-high 24 points in the 62-45 second-round tilt with Worth County.Walker finished with 20 points in the quarterfinals win over Rutland, but it was an outstanding game from 6-foot-5 junior Tracey Hector Jr. that led the Cardinals. Hector finished with a season-high 21 points and 15 rebounds. Junior point guard Austin Donaldson has also come to life in the postseason. After averag-ing 7.28 points per game in the regular season, Donaldson has averaged 16.8 points per game in the playoffs and is coming off back-to-back 20-plus point outputs. 

 

Walker remains the biggest offensive threat and he set a new career-high with 28 points and 12 rebounds in the semifinals. Walker reached the foul line a career-high 21 times in the semis and made 17 of the attempts. Jonesboro's scoring combination of Walker, Wade, Hector and Donaldson gives the team plenty of options and head coach Dan Maehlman likes to let his squad come out running from the opening tip. Jonesboro has held the lead or taken a share of the lead entering the second half of each playoff game.  


GIRLS CLASS AAAA FINALS PREVIEW
By Brian Jones
Columbus looks to slow down unbeaten Redan

 

Photo by Columbus HS

COLUMBUS

30-1, REGION 5

The Columbus Blue Devils had a strong 2012-13 season as they won 20 games and made the state playoffs as a No. 3 seed. But Chestatee was able to take them down in the first round of the tournament and the Blue Devils' hopes of reaching the state championship game for the first time since 2004 came to an end. The Blue Devils used that for motivation this season having only suffered one loss, which was to Northside-Columbus back in December. 

 

A big reason for Columbus' success is the play of senior guards Alexia Manning and Jacqueria Gunter. Manning has averaged 14 points per game while Gunter has averaged 11 points per game. Head coach Joe Cherrone said after the semifinal win against Woodland-Henry that since Manning is a four-year starter, it's important to get her going and her leadership on the court is vital to the team's success. The Blue Devils also got valuable production out of freshman guard Tatyana Wyatt who has scored 11 points per game this season. And let's not forget about freshman center Ariyah Copeland who scored 12 points in the semifinal win. 

 

One of the reasons the Blue Devils have only lost one game this season is their stingy defense. Columbus averages five blocks per game, 21 rebounds per game and nearly 10 steals per game. And the reason they can play defense is they have a lot of size. Both Copeland and Wyatt stand over six-feet tall and so does sophomore center Shardonee Hayes, who is 6-foot-3. Back in February, Cherrone told the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer that his defense could be the best in the city and possible the state. Cherrone and the rest of the Blue Devils will have a chance to find out how good the defense really is against undefeated Redan in Macon this weekend.   

 

REDAN

33-0, REGION 6

Over the last few years, Redan has been one of the top basketball programs in the state. The Raiders' last championship came in 2009 under head coach Rhonda Malone. After Malone won the state title, she retired and opened the door for current head coach Jerry Jackson. Jackson and the Raiders came close in 2010 when they lost to Norcross in the state championship game, which was their only loss of the season. They also had an opportunity to win the title last year, but fell short against Sandy Creek in the quarterfinals. 

 

Now Redan comes into this state championship game like they did in 2010 and that's not having a single loss on its record. One of the things that makes the Raiders dangerous is how effective they are at the three-point line. No girls team in DeKalb County shot and made more three-pointers than Redan and it finished the regular season shooting 40 percent from the arc. The team's best three-point shooter is senior guard Brea Elmore, who shot 42 percent during the regular season. Elmore also averaged 19 points per game, which was the second-best mark in the county. Elmore signed to play college ball at Memphis in November.

 

Another player that can score is senior forward Jada Byrd. She averaged 13 points per game during the regular season to go along with her seven rebounds and three assists. She has signed to play with Xavier next season. Senior guard Destini McClary is another player to watch for the Raiders. McClary averages 14 points per game and has a 39 percent three-point percentage. Byrd, Elmore and McClary have all reached 1,000 career points this season, making Redan the first school in DeKalb County to have three players reach that mark in the same season.  


BOYS CLASS A-PUBLIC FINALS PREVIEW
By Craig Sager II
Warriors make short, familiar trip to Coliseum

 

Photo by Horace Austin

WILKINSON COUNTY

26-6, REGION 7
The Warriors are making a familiar 32-mile westbound trek to Macon on Thursday and sit one win away from bringing home a seventh state title to the storied program. Last season, Wilkinson County battled past Wilcox County 53-49 for the Class A-Public state championship. Undersized and underclassman-heavy, Wilkinson County started last year's championship an abysmal 1-of-11 from the foul line and had to find a way to overcome a 33.9 percent shooting performance from the field. Rebounding, hustle plays and a game-high 20 points from then-sophomore Torrico Simmons was the answer. 

 

Simmons continues to elevate his game and as a whole this year's team is more experienced and more balanced than in 2013. Simmons' ability to shoot the deep ball and get to the foul line and the emergence of senior guard Tray Little has created an unstoppable one-two punch. Little has nearly doubled his production this season after coming off the bench in 2013 and averages north of 16 points per game. In the first round of the playoffs, Little dropped a career-high 36 points as Wilkinson County beat Wheeler County for the fourth time this season (71-49). Simmons is the team's leading scorer, right at 20 points per game, and comes off an efficient 18 points in Wilkinson County's 75-68 win over Calhoun County in the semifinals. 

 

Simmons can erupt at any moment, and netted a career-high 37 points in Wilkinson's 81-69 win over Aquinas in the Region 7 championship last month. Senior guard Derrick Trawick Jr. is averaging 14 points per game this season and Antonio Whipple has come up big in the postseason with nearly 10 points per game to go with his double-digit rebounds. Rebounding is a strength of this team and Whipple (6-foot-6) and 6-foot-3 senior Kareem Sanders are difference-makers in the post.   

 

TURNER COUNTY

26-4, REGION 2
Turner County has been a contender for the past several seasons, but it has been 51 seasons (1963) since the Rebels' last went the distance and won a state title. In 2012, Turner County lost a 46-44 heart-breaker in the state semifinals and, last season, the Rebels' run fell flat in the quarterfinals to Wilcox County, 75-62. This year's team could have what it takes and the lineup is as balanced as they come. Without a height presence down low, 6-foot-2 senior Antonio Graddic plays center in a high-tempo of-fense that attacks the basket from all directions. 

 

Junior guard Quan Hillmon has been especially aggressive this postseason. He netted a season-high 23 points in the 69-61 quarterfinals victory over Portal. Senior point guard Nate Martin has also played fearlessly in the playoffs and is averaging 13 points per game with his team-high 16 shot attempts per game. In the quarterfinals, there were nine players that scored and in the semifinals the Rebels continued spreading the ball around with eight players finding the scoring column. 

 

Graddic and Hillmon each scored 11 apiece in the semifinals as team-highs. The Rebels have been able to close out tight games and have scored 19 points in the final quarter of all three playoff games, the highest average of any quarter. Turner County's weaknesses have been compen-sated with effort and outstanding defense, but the three-point shooting remains a concern. Turner County is 9-of-43 shooting from beyond the arc this postseason. Turnovers have also been a problem, but the Rebels have improved each round. In the Sweet 16, Turner County turned it over a season-high 31 times, but decreased its totals to 22 in the quarterfinals and only 15 giveaways in the semifinals. Defensively, Turner County has averaged 14 steals and 8.3 blocks per game this playoffs.  


GIRLS CLASS A-PUBLIC FINALS PREVIEW
By Brian Jones

Region rivals square off for fourth time this year

 

MITCHELL COUNTY
25-6, REGION 1
It's been a long time since Mitchell County has held a state title trophy. In fact, it's been 44 years since the Eagles could call themselves champions. They have a chance to change all that this weekend as they take on region foe Randolph-Clay in the Class A Public State Championship. The Eagles know they only have to beat Randolph-Clay to win the title, but the Eagles have had their share of trouble with them this season. Mitchell County has compiled a 25-6 record, and of those six losses, three of them came against the Red Devils including the season opener and the Region 1 tournament title game. 
 
Despite having fits with Randolph-Clay, being ranked No. 7 in the power ratings and not winning a title since 1970, the Eagles are still one of the more dangerous teams in Class A. And they proved that when they took down No. 2 Turner County in the Elite Eight, which ended a streak of three straight seasons in which they lost in the quarterfinals. Mitchell County has had a very good season despite not being able to get past Randolph-Clay. The other three losses came against Pelham (twice) and Valdosta. Both schools are in higher classifications than Mitchell County, so the Eagles have beaten every team in Class A they have faced other than the Red Devils. 
 
A big reason for their success is the play of junior guard A'miracle Jones and senior forward Shonbreka Holton. Jones averaged 16.2 points per game while Holton averages 14 points per game. The Eagles have already gotten past the first challenge and that's breaking the curse of the Elite Eight with the win against Turner County. Now they face a bigger challenge in taking down a team they lost to three times this season.
 
RANDOLPH-CLAY
26-4, REGION 1
In 2012-2013, Randolph-Clay looked like it would get a state championship banner to hang on top of the Joe C. Williams Gym. That did not happen as the Red Devils fell to Gordon Lee in the state finals. The loss only made head coach Jennifer Acree and her girls stronger because, during the regular season, the Red Devils started the year winning their first nine games and they have not lost a game since falling short to Monroe in early February. The Red Devils were able to breeze through the first two games of the region tournament by giving up only 18 points per game. 
 
Acree's team then won the region title by beating Mitchell County 77-74. Randolph-Clay was the No. 1 team in the Class A-Public Power Ratings for the majority of the season. But when they lost three times in six games back in January, they fell out of the top spot and that gave Claxton the opportunity to be No. 1. Randolph Clay got back to No. 1 when Claxton lost to Calvary Day in the Region 3-A title game. One of the reasons the Red Devils are the No. 1 team in Class A-Public is the combination of senior guard Brandie Buie and sophomore forward Kobi Thornton. 
 
Buie is averaging 24 points per game while Thornton is averaging 19 points per game. Buie and Thornton have done their part to get the Red Devils back on top, but role players like junior forward Brianna Thornton, senior guard Shanice Jackson and sophomore guard Alicia Mathis have all been productive role players throughout the year. The Red Devils are going for their third state title in school history. They won their first title back in 1996 and won the second title in 2000.

FALCONS FOOTBALL MOMS CLINIC



Information Session: March 18 | 7-9 PM
 
Register here:
 
ATLANTA FALCONS UPDATE


 

Dear Coach,

We wanted to provide an update regarding the 2014 Atlanta Falcons Coaches Clinic hosted by Head Coach Mike Smith. Due to the NFL Draft which is now in May and required commitments, the next Coaches Clinic will be held in March 2015. Please save the date for the Atlanta Falcons Salute to High School Football reception for Georgia high school football head coaches on Saturday, December 13 at the Georgia Dome. 

 

Please save the date for the Atlanta Falcons Salute to High School Football reception for Georgia high school football head coaches on Saturday, December 13 at the Georgia Dome. 

 

For other Atlanta Falcons youth and prep football program information, please visit atlantafalcons.com/youthfootball or on twitter @AFPlayFootball

 

Thanks so much for your support of the Atlanta Falcons. 

 

All inquiries should be directed to David Quiroga, Youth and Prep Football Coordinator at 770-965-4310 or dquiroga@falcons.nfl.com

 

Sincerely, 

Atlanta Falcons Community Relations Department 

DIRECT PHONE: 770-965-4310  

 

gaoa
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