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Yesterday's state finals saw the Randolph-Clay girls, Wilkinson Co. boys, Redan girls and Jonesboro boys win state championships. See recaps of those games and previews of today's action in today's SHSSN. 

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In This Issue
Finals Schedule
Thursday Recap
Top Performers
Boys AAAAA Preview
Girls AAAAA Preview
Boys AA Preview
Girls AA Preview
Falcons Moms Clinic
Score Poll
Top Stories
How many points per game did Jonesboro freshman James Walker Jr. average during the Cardinals' playoff run to the tile? 
Today's answer can  
be found in the newsletter!


Thursday's answer:

Last night's 56-51 loss to Jonesboro was the fifth straight finals appearance for Columbia.



Thursday, March 6


Class A-Public


Randolph-Clay 53, Mitchell County 32


Class A-Public


Wilkinson County 72, Turner County 64


Class AAAA


Redan 63, Columbus 53


Class AAAA


Jonesboro 56, Columbia 51



Friday, March 7



AAASP Wheelchair

Henry County vs. Houston County (12 pm)


Class AA


Kendrick vs. Wesleyan (3 pm)


Class AA


Calhoun vs. GAC (4:45 pm)




Tucker vs. SW DeKalb (7 pm)




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



Saturday, March 8


Class A-Private


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


Class A-Private 


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


Class AAA


Buford vs. St. Pius X (3 pm)


Class AAA


Buford vs. Morgan County (4:45 pm)




McEachern vs. Archer (7 pm)




Wheeler vs. Tift County (8:45 pm)

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Friday, March 7, 2014


By Stephen Black
Three schools return to podium, Jonesboro wins first 

Class A-Public girls

Randolph-Clay won the Class A-Public girls state title 53-32 over Mitchell

Ty Freeman

County, a team the Red Devils had beaten three times during the regular season. Randolph-Clay jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first quarter and was in command the rest of the way.


Brandie Buie led the Devils with 19 points and Shanice Jackson added 15. A'miracle Jones led Mitchell County with 12. It is the third state title for Randolph-Clay, which also won titles in 1996 and 2000.





A-Public Boys

Wilkinson County won its seventh state championship in program history and third in four years with a 72-64 victory over Turner County. The Warriors led 14-6 out of the gates then went on a 15-2 run to take a commanding 29-13 half-time lead.


Torrico Simmons led Wilkinson County with 18 and Kareem Sanders added

Ty Freeman

10. Turner County's Shaquil Baldwin had a team-high 18 points and Antonio Graddic added 14 for the Blue Storm, which was trying to win its first state title since 1963.





AAAA girls

Redan won its second girls state title with a 63-53 win over Columbus in Macon Thursday night. The Raiders outscored Columbus by 10 in the final six minutes after Columbus had tied the score.


Brea Elmore led Redan with 20 points and Destini McClary and Jada Byrd each added 16.

Ty Freeman

Jacqueria Gunter led Columbus with 16.


It is the 11th state title for DeKalb schools in the past seven seasons.




AAAA boys

Jonesboro won its first state basketball title in school history with a 56-51 win over Columbia Thursday night in Macon. The Cardinals led 26-16 at the half, but saw Columbia roar back to tie it at 36 heading into the fourth period. But coach Don Maehlman's team hit 10 or 12 free throws down the stretch to retain its narrow lead.


Tracey Hector, Jr. led the Cardinals with 19 points and 10 rebounds while freshman James Walker Jr. added 14. Columbia's Maurice Rivers and Nick Singleton each had 13 and Anthony Rice had 12.


It is just the second state title for a Clayton County school, as North Clayton won the only other boys title in 1993. It was the fifth straight final berth for Columbia.


By Craig Sager II

Jonesboro's Walker, Redan's Elmore turn in big games



Thursday crowned 2014's first four state champions and viewers of the action were able to witness some incredible individual performances. In the boys Class AAAA finals, Jonesboro won its first state title in program history. Tracey Hector Jr. got the Cardinals going early and never slowed down. Hector scored Jonesboro's first nine points as it jumped to an early 9-6 lead. To go along with his nine points, Hector grabbed five boards in the first six minutes of action and the Cardinals entered the halftime with a 9-0 advantage in offensive rebounds. Hector finished with a game-high 19 points and 10 boards. 


Jonesboro freshman James Walker Jr. was the other difference maker.

Ty Freeman

Walker struggled from the field, shooting just 1-of-6, but never stopped attacking the Columbia defense and still controlled the second half. Walker finished with 12 trips to the foul line and netted 11 of the attempts. This postseason, Walker made 51-of-59 free throws and averaged a team-high 19.8 points per game in his playoff debut.


In the girls Class AAAA championship, Redan senior point guard Brea Elmore was sensational. Elmore finished with a game-high 20 points, six assists and came away with 10 of Redan's 21 steals. Elmore's 20 points is the largest scoring output of the 2014 finals so far. Redan seniors Jada Byrd and Destini McClary each finished with 16 points and four steals.


Wilkinson County junior Torrico Simmons led the Warriors to their second consecutive Class A-Public boys state title. Simmons netted a game-high 20 points last year and finished with a game-high 18 points in Thursday's championship game. Simmons went to the foul line 16 times, where he went 10-of-16. The two teams combined for 4-of-29 shooting from the three point line and Simmons' aggressiveness in the midst of a poor shooting night for both teams was able to make a big impact.


Randolph-Clay's Brandie Buie continuously attacked the basket in the girls Class A-Public state championship and finished with a game-high 19 points. Buie went to the foul line 13 times (making nine) and grabbed 10 rebounds. Sophomore Kobi Thorton finished with nine points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. Four of Thorton's blocks came in the first quarter, and the 6-foot-3 underclassmen discouraged Mitchell County from visiting the paint the rest of the game.

By Stephen Black
Wolverines look for record sixth straight title




27-5, REGION 5

The Wolverines are back. Coach Sharman White's team has won five straight championships and six straight final fours. Four of the championships came in Class AAAA with the fifth coming in 2012. Miller Grove has a strong argument to being the state's top boys program in the state. While Miller Grove teams of the recent past relied on strong presences down low like UCLA's Tony Park- er and Georgia's Donte Williams, this year's edition features strong backcourt play.


Guards Keith Pinckney and Alterique Gilbert lead the way for a talented bunch of

Photo by Ty Freeman

Wolverines. Just a sophomore, Gilbert leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game. He also leads the team in assists with 5.6 and in steals with a whopping 4.2. Gilbert stands 5-foot-11 and scored 36 points in the quarterfinal win over DeKalb County- rival Tucker. Pinckney, a 6-foot-2 senior who is committed to Tulane, scores 17.6 points per game and averages 4.2 assists and 2.3 steals. James Walker is the team's lynchpin down low. The 6-foot-5 senior was fourth in DeKalb County with 9.1 rebounds per game this year. Walker averages 10.3 points per game.


Omar Venable, a 6-foot-8 senior center, and sophomore forward Raylon Richardson form a tough defensive presence down low, averaging 2.2 and 2.1 blocks per game, respectively. Miller Grove's last loss came on Jan. 20 to Roselle (N.J.) at the Flying to the Hoop Tourney. The Wolver- ines' last loss to a Georgia team came on Dec. 31 to Norcross. Prior to that, the Wolverines lost back-to-back games to Columbia on Dec. 20 and Bullis (Md.) on Dec. 26. Their only other loss came to Class AAAAAA- finalist Wheeler on Dec. 7. White started the program and has been the Wolverines' coach now for nine seasons. He carries an impressive 234-47 record at Miller Grove.





28-2, REGION 2

If there has been a team with any kind of a home-court edge in the final four, it is Warner Robins. The Demons played in front of a partisan crowd in a 45-43 win over Stephenson in the semifinals in Fort Valley and will again be supported by much of middle Georgia in their finals outing against Miller Grove. The home crowd no doubt played a big role in Warner Robins' narrow win over its DeKalb County foes. The Demons used a late rally to catch 

Stephenson after the Jags had taken a six-point edge.


Warner Robins came all the way back to take a one-point lead with 2:33 left. Nathan Curtis eventually gave Warner Robins a three-point lead with seconds left and the Demons survived a last-ditch effort by Stephenson that nearly tied the game. Coach Jamaal Garman's team cruised into the semifinals with a 69-48 shellacking of Bainbridge in the Demons' home gym. Warner Robins wasted little time in that one, taking a 23-11 lead at the end of the first period.


Junior forward Nathan Curtis led Warner Robins with 21 points and fellow junior Stephon Raybon added 12. The Demons have not lost since a 59-48 defeat by arch-rival Northside on Dec. 23 and have held all of their playoff opponents to less than 50 points. Warner Robins gave up 52 points or more in a 10-game stretch leading up to the state playoffs. In the playoffs, however, the Demons' defense has been stingy. This is just the second state finals appearance for Warner Robins and a win would earn the school its first-ever boys basketball state championship. The semifinals appearance was the first not only for Warner Robins, but for all of Bibb County since 2000.




By Brian Jones
Rivals clash in Class AAAAA finals



30-2, REGION 6 
Southwest DeKalb has been a dominant force in Georgia's second highest classification since Kathy Richey-Walton took over as head coach in 2006. The Panthers
Photo by Ty Freeman
have won four state championships in the 
last six years-the 
first three in Class AAAA from 2008 to 2010 and a fourth last year in Class AAAAA following realignment. They are now in their sixth title game under Richey-Walton after a 59-32 semifinal blowout of Forest Park last weekend.Holding teams to fewer than 40 points is nothing new for Southwest DeKalb, which continues to prove the old adage that defense wins championships. 
Defensive tenacity has always been the Panthers' trade-mark and this season is no exception. They have allowed no more than 44 points in three of four state tounament games. In a two-game stretch during mid-February they gave up a combined 26 points to M.L. King and North Atlanta. In a span of four mid-January games they surrendered a total of 93 points, or an average of 23.3 per contest. In the semis, Forest Park scored a mere three points on just one field goal in the entire third quarter. While every girl gets in on the fun at the defensive end of the floor (each one has to if she wants to be rewarded with playing time by Richey-Walton), the offense is dominated by fellow juniors Tynice Martin and Davion Wingate. 
Martin, a 5-foot-10 forward, and Wingate, a 5-foot-7 guard, average more than 15 points per game apiece and account for almost half of the team's scoring. Southwest DeKalb's quarterfinal rout of Stephenson saw Martin drain a trio of three-pointers in the first half en route to a 20-point performance. Wingate scored nine points in the second quarter alone against Forest Park. Sophomore guard Daisa Alexander can fill it up when called upon. She scored 27 points in the second round against Sequoyah.
28-4, REGION 6
Tucker has never won a state championship in girls basketball and this is its first trip to the title game. The Tigers have, however, made three quarterfinals appearances since 2004 and this current squad is ranked No. 2 in the state, so by no means has this postseason run come out of nowhere. It is no surprise that this group has delivered Tucker's best-ever season. 
The Tigers are an experienced bunch with five seniors on the roster and all five are major contributors. Twins Naima and Nuba Jackson are 5-foot-8 guards heading
Photo by Ty Freeman
to Winthrop University. Their natural smarts (both have GPAs of just about
4.0) and experience on the hardwood (both have played since age nine) are evident in their abilities to play fundamentally-sound basketball while expertly running a mistake-free offense. The Jacksons' speed, which they have also displayed as cross-country standouts, helps Tucker push the tempo on each end of the floor. Another Division I signee is Erykah Davenport, a 6-foot-2 post player. Davenport, on her way to Miami (Fla.), is averaging more than 13 points and seven rebounds per game. She has the ability to completely take over during stretches, such as when she poured in 11 first-quarter points in a quarterfinal victory over Salem. 
Senior guards Jemilla Flanagan and Tori Robinson also make up part of a deep, dynamic backcourt. But don't forget about sophomore forward Mariya Trimble, who scored a team-high 12 points along with Davenport in a semifinal win against Drew. The Tigers' offensive prowess has led to 28 of 32 outings in which they have scored at least 50 points. It is also a big reason why they are playing some of their best basketball right now, when it matters most. They fell to Southwest DeKalb in the region championship game, but other than that they have not lost since Jan. 18 (to Class AAAAA semifinalist Forest Park).

By Ricky Dimon
Cinderella Calhoun faces undefeated Spartans


31-0, REGION 6

Greater Atlanta Christian may be in one of the state's smaller classifications, but it also may be the best team in the entire business. Jefferson head coach Bolling DuBose, whose team lost to the Spartans inlast week's

Photo by Ty Freeman

quarterfinals, expressed that sentiment and said he had not talked to anyone who thought differently. And who's to disagree? Greater Atlanta Christian is a perfect 31-0, with victories against multiple Class AAAAAA opponents plus wins over schools from five different states and the Bahamas. It won its first three state playoff games by double-digits before beating Laney by eight points, its narrowest margin of victory since a Jan. 20 defeat of Hillgrove. 


The Spartans have plenty of experience as they attempt to successfully defend their 2013 Class AA title. Forward Justin Lewis, guard Troy Morrison and forward Isaiah Wilkins are all seniors. They have been key contributors from start to finish this season and each one scored in double-figures against Laney. Wilkins, the stepson of former Atlanta Hawks' great Dominique Wilkins, has signed with the University of Virginia. Greater Atlanta Christian uses its unrivaled size to dominate inside and its big men are complimented perfectly by the slick shooting of junior guard Cam Boyd. 


The team's defensive paint presence forces oppo-nents' to score from the perimeter, often a difficult proposition. The Spartans have allowed more than 60 points in a game only five times this season and they have limited teams to 35 points or fewer eight times. A title would be nothing new for either the school or head coach Eddie Martin. In his fifth season at the helm, Martin has already captured three state championships with Greater Atlanta Christian. He also won three in a row of the Class AAAAA variety with Norcross from 2006 through 2008. Overall, the Spartans are bidding for their sixth boys basketball championship in school history.   



26-2, REGION 7

Calhoun is in the final for the first time since 2001 and it is bidding for its first-ever title in either boys or girls basketball. The Yellow Jackets' appearance in this game did not seem likely when they fell twice to Class AA competition in an 11-day span (to Dade County in quadruple overtime and to Model), but they have not lost since Jan. 14. Their best and biggest win in the current hot streak came last week in the semifi-nals. Vidalia was one win away from setting up what would have been a Class AA championship showdown between the only two undefeated boys teams in the entire state. 


The Jackets, however, had other ideas. They used a dominant performance down low by senior forward Austin Byrd, who grabbed 24 rebounds, to prevail 54-41.Byrd, also a defensive end who has signed with Kennesaw State, gives Calhoun a formidable inside presence that it will desperately need against Greater Atlanta Christian. The team is not particularly big from top to bottom, but Byrd is 6-foot-3 and fellow senior Keyth Fightmaster is a 6-foot-7 center who also provides valuable experience and size down low. Senior guard Chandler Curtis can fill it up from the outside and he drained four three-pointers en route to a 20-point performance against Coosa in the quarterfinals. 


Sophomore guard Jireh Wilson is the shutdown defender on a unit that has allowed more than 50 points in a game only twice since Jan. 21. Calhoun may have an edge in a close game, especially if it is anywhere near striking distance heading into the fourth quarter. The Yellow Jackets have been absolutely unbelievable in the final frame of play dur-ing these state playoffs. They have outscored their four opponents by a whopping combined fourth-quarter score of 90-43, a 47-point margin or an average of 11.8 points for those counting.   

By Ricky Dimon

10-time champs clash with unbeaten Kendrick 


30-0, REGION 5
Kendrick is one of the top programs in girls basketball, and for good reason. It is a 30-0 juggernaut that has been pulverizing the opposition almost without exception. Only three opponents have come within single digits of Kendrick, including Greater Atlanta Christian in a 65-62 overtime thriller in the quarterfinals. The Cherokees have won their other three state playoff games by an average of 43.3 points. Among their 28 victories are margins of 105-28, 103-26, 110-18, 91-11 and 99-20. They have advanced one round further than last year (lost to Laney in the semis) and are one win from a second state title (2008).
Kendrick's offense is clearly dangerous, but the team's defense is actually a huge reason for so many points being scored. Head coach Sterling Hicks implements a press defense early and often and his rotation goes as many as 15 girls deep to keep all five players on the floor fresh and eager to ball-hawk on the defen-sive end. Junior forward Taylor Farley and junior guard Angela Jones are especially active on defense. The Cherokees' undisputed best player is 5-foot-8 senior guard Kahlia Lawrence. In just three seasons, she has exceeded the 2000-point mark for her career and is the school's all-time leading scorer. 
Lawrence is averaging 27 points per game during the 2013-14 campaign. Her supporting cast, however, is more than capable and it proved as much after Lawrence fouled out with more than seven minutes left in regulation against Greater Atlanta Christian. A bulk of Kendrick's scoring comes from in or near the paint, in part thanks to Deja Cheatham. The senior forward is averaging 16 points per contest and she scored five in over-time alone against the Spartans. Donivan Dyson, another senior forward, delivered in the clutch by scoring 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter to help force the overtime period.
27-3, REGION 6
To say this is nothing new for the Wesleyan girls would be a gross understatement. They have won state titles in 10 of the last 12 seasons and they are into their 13th final in the past 14 years. The Wolves have won six consecutive state championships-bookend Class AA triumphs in 2008 and 2013 and four in Class A in between. Their dynasty coincided with the 2001 arrival of head coach Jan Azar, who has more than 400 career wins and was inducted into the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. Azar appears to have another Hall of Fame team on her hands. 
Wesleyan's only two in-state losses this season have come to Holy Innocents', an undefeated squad in Class A-Private, and Greater Atlanta Christian. The Wolves avenged the latter defeat by beating the Spartans 55-52 in the region championship. This is one of Azar's youngest rosters, but Wesleyan always reloads as opposed to rebuilding. Among the key contributors is a freshmen trio of guard Riley Casey, guard Mikayla Coombs and forward Natalie Armstrong. One of two Wesleyan players averaging double-figures, Coombs is scoring 11.8 points per game. Point-guard duties are shared by freshman Devyn Lowe and sophomore Cairo Booker, the team's top two assist leaders.
Azar also touts Booker as the team's defensive leader. Experience comes in the form of senior forward Keevana Edwards and junior guard Nikki McDonald. Edwards is averaging 6.8 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per outing, while McDonald is recording more than 14 points and seven rebounds per game. The Wolves like to run up and down the floor and they are not afraid to use a press defense. They work an inside-outside game on offense, with Edwards looking to establish herself down low to free up outside shooters. Wesleyan has drained 161 three-pointers this season.


Information Session: March 18 | 7-9 PM


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 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



Atlanta Falcons Community Relations Department 

DIRECT PHONE: 770-965-4310  





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