Thursday, February 25, 2016

Morgan County sweeps Laney in GHSA 3A quarterfinals

Morgan County's boys and girls teams swept Laney's in Thursday's highly anticipated GHSA 3A quarterfinal round at Augusta University.

The Lady Bulldogs topped Laney 62-53 after Tatyana Davis (#3) and Alexis Brown (#4) led a fourth quarter spurt to overcome a 40-32 second half deficit. Morgan County handed Laney 3 of the defending state champ's 5 losses this season. Here are some game highlights:

Morgan County will face Johnson in Saturday's semifinal round.

The Morgan County boys controlled the second half of their 55-50 quarterfinal win over Laney to earn the chance to face South Atlanta in Saturday's semifinals. The loss was Laney's second to Morgan County this season. And this was the second consecutive season the Bulldogs eliminated the Wildcats from the post season.

Laney vs Morgan County: Georgia's best rivalry

Laney's Christian Keeling and Zep Jasper played their last game at home Saturday. And as you can see, they went out with a bang!

Tonight they headline a double header at Augusta University involving the four best teams I watched this year:

Laney (Girls) vs Morgan County6:30

Laney ( Boys) vs Morgan County8:00

Both of Morgan County's teams are ranked number 1 in the state. Laney's Lady Wildcats are the defending state champs. Laney's boys have lost only four games the past two seasons.

The two season series between two of the state's finest hoops programs is led by Laney's boys (3-2), while Laney and Morgan's girls have split their four meetings over the period.

There are four division one signees in the boys game (Jasper, Keeling, and Morgan's Devorius Brown and Jailyn Ingram). Will Avery and I estimate there may be five in the girls game (Laney's De'sha Benjamin and Aubrianna Bonner, and Morgan County's Sydney Nash, Alexis Brown, and Tatyana Davis).

Factor in these teams' history of winning and of producing high level players. Then consider the head-to-head historical battles. If you do, you'll likely agree this is Georgia's best high school rivalry. 

I want to write more about it but I have to go get a seat. I forgot to mention these teams bring bus loads of fans!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Westminster and Augusta University win in Wednesday's exciting doubleheader

Wednesday started the most exciting 5 days of the season as Westminster, fresh off a region championship and sporting a nifty 26-3 record, thumped Edmund Burke 79-27 in the first round of its GISA state playoff journey.

So that score doesn't make the game sound so exciting?

Westminster’s rowdy student section, which was dotted with all sorts of different jerseys on “jersey night,” would disagree, especially because of this Jelani Watson-Gayle dunk in the game’s first quarter:

Not to be outdone, Augusta University’s Keshun Sherrill once again showed why he’s worthy of my nickname for him (Superman!) by hitting a trio of threes during the final minute of regulation and in overtime to spark the Jaguars’ 90-86 road win at rival USC Aiken:

Now that you’ve gotten a taste of Wednesday’s slate, let’s watch some more highlights and hear from some of the participants...

Few area teams can boast of the kind of season Westminster has had. Tonight’s first round win comes on the heels of last week’s region tournament championship. I talked to head coach Mark Tebbs about the benefits his team has derived from playing such a difficult region schedule:

I also asked Augusta University’s starting backcourt mates Keshun Sherrill and Trevor Foreman how much the two competitors appreciate each other. Their responses were genuine and indicative of the bonds guys form when they have played together for four years, as these two have:

Westminster faces Loganville Christian Saturday at 4:30 at home in the quarterfinals of the GISA state playoffs. Augusta hosts Young Harris Sunday at 4:00 in the quarterfinals of the Peach Belt Conference tournament.

Here is a list of games that are on my radar during this final week of hoops in our area.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Augusta University, Laney, Westside, Westminster headline biggest hoops week ofthe year!

Augusta University will be the site of four consecutive days of high level basketball as first 16 of Georgia's best high school teams, including Laney and Westside, will spar in the 3A quarterfinal and semifinal state playoff rounds Thursday through Saturday. And Augusta University's men's and women's teams finish the stretch Sunday when the Jaguars host Peach Belt Conference tournament quarterfinal games. Adding to this slate of local hoops is Westminster's hosting of the first and second rounds of their GISA state tournament Wednesday and Saturday.

Lincoln County travels to Valdosta State Thursday to play 1A power Wilkinson County in the Red Devils' first quarterfinal appearance in 30 years!

Also traveling are Westminster and Augusta Prep's girls, who hit the road Tuesday for their first rounds of playoff action.

Here are the games on my radar during the last week of hoops action in our area (teams that advance will travel next week):

Westminster's Lady Wildcats vs Trinity (5:30 at the Heritage School
Augusta Prep's Lady Cavaliers vs Bulloch (5:30 at Westfield)
Midland Valley vs Wilson (7:00 at Aiken; the game was moved because of "seating requirements."

Westminster vs Edmund Burke (7:00 at Westminster)
Augusta University at USC Aiken - 5:30 (women) and 7:30 (men)

Alleluia  in GICAA state playoff semifinals (5:30 at Georgia Southwestern University)
Laney's Lady Wildcats vs Morgan County (6:30 at Augusta University)
Laney vs Morgan County (8:00 at Augusta University)
Lincoln County vs Wilkinson County (at Valdosta State)

Westside vs Cedar Grove (8:00 Friday at Augusta University)

If Laney's boys or girls teams or Westside wins in the quarterfinals, they will play in Saturday's 3A state semifinals at Augusta University.

Augusta University's women's and men's teams host the PBC tournament quarterfinals at 2:00 and 4:00, respectively.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

At midnight Saturday, here is what I know about the local hoops scene!

At the end of a busy hoops week, here is what I know about the state playoff games played today and the positioning of the teams that I follow that are still playing.

First, Augusta University topped Lander on the road Saturday, clinching no worse than a second place finish in the east division of the Peach Belt Conference with one regular season game remaining. Keshun Sherrill scored 24 points to lead the way while Tommy Williams and Tamyrik Fields each added 16.

Laney crushed Lumpkin Saturday to earn a place in the quarterfinals at Augusta University Thursday. The opponent is Morgan County, Georgia's top ranked 3A team. Laney and Morgan County's meeting is the sixth in the past 15 months. Laney holds a 3-2 advantage during that time. Four Division 1 signees will play in Thursday's game!

Laney's Lady Wildcats also play Thursday at Augusta University against Morgan County. The Lady Bulldogs, like their male peers, are the state's top ranked team. Laney has lost both meetings against Morgan County this season. But the Lady Wildcats are the defending state champions and they are playing stellar basketball recently.

Westside also earned a spot in the 3A quarterfinal round at Augusta University. The Patriots topped East Hall 79-59 on the road Saturday behind 23 points from Dekwan Lewis and 16 from Trez Hawes. Westside has only lost to one team this season. Laney. These two teams will be a blast to watch this week on the town's biggest stage.

Richmond traded baskets down the stretch Saturday with Miller Grove, winners of 6 of the last 7 state championships. But the Musketeers fell 64-57, ending a fantastic season.

Lincoln County got 29 points from 6'5" senior Zach Crite and 24 from 6'7" junior Ahmad Rand and the Red Devils topped Randolph-Clay 89-79 in overtime on the road. Lincoln County is one of eight 1A public schools whose season is still alive.

Coach Wes Wuchte's team faces Wilkinson County Thursday at Valdosta State.

Westminster won its GISA class 3A region tournament championship game Friday over host John Milledge. Senior Nygl Eaddy buried two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining to clinch the win. The Wildcats host round one of the state tournament Wednesday.

Westminster's Lady Wildcats finished as the region's runner up and will play Tuesday on the road.

Midland Valley's girls and boys teams host third round state playoff games Monday (girls) and Tuesday (boys). The girls won the region tournament this season for the first time since the 1980's! The boys are the South Carolina High School league's class 3A defending state champions.

Alleluia, GICAA's defending state champ, won its sweet sixteen round game 77-50 Saturday. Ben Dresser (20 points; 6 threes); Mac McBride (15 points and 8 assists) and Hayden Hebert (15 points) led the way for the Angels.

An #AugBballFlashback - Why I call Augusta's Sherrill "Superman"

As Chris Gay points out in Saturday's Augusta Chronicle, Augusta University needs one win in its remaining two games to host the Peach Belt Conference tournament quarterfinals. The first chance is today at Lander (3:30 tip-off; for broadcast and live stats).

Coach Dip Metress earned his 400th win and clinched his 18th consecutive winning season (dating back to his Belmont Abbey beginning) Wednesday at Francis Marion when Richmond Academy graduate Tommy Williams scored a season high 29 points.

Junior All American Keshun Sherrill earned the "Superman" nick name I gave him during last season's game at Lander. The scoring machine (2nd in PBC, 11th in NCAA Division II) scored 25 points in the game's final 25 minutes; he made the game tying 3 point play on a coast-to-coast drive just before regulation ended; and his Jaguars proceeded to go on a winning binge that landed Augusta a regular season Peach Belt east title.

Here is a link to my report from that memorable road game:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Lady Wildcats advance to elite 8

Laney turned up the defensive pressure on Dawson County in Friday's sweet sixteen round matchup between teams with 24-4 records. The turnovers the Lady Wildcats caused put the ball in sophomore De'sha Benjamin's hands in the open floor, a recipe for disaster for Dawson County. Laney earned a 64-45 win and advanced to the state playoff quarterfinals at Augusta University after Benjamin finished with a staggering stat line: 28 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 10 steals, and 6 blocks.

Those numbers say plenty. So does the footage below. The Lady Wildcats are extremely skilled and unselfish. Their play during the post season has been remarkable.

Also remarkable Friday was the support the boys team gave the girls. The only other time I've seen the girls play on a day when the boys didn't was last season's state playoff game against the same Dawson County team Laney dismantled tonight. The boys formed a rowdy student section that night too.

Hopefully the video below shows the impressive teamwork and inspired play that I witnessed in person. Stay tuned for the special interview at the end.

Laney and Grovetown host sweet sixteen round games; Westminster playsfor region title; Richmond visits a juggernaut; 3A teams aim to makeround at Augusta University's

Welcome to headquarters for Friday night playoff updates!

Last update:
Here is the link to my full report, including video highlights, from Friday's Laney Lady Wildcat win Friday:

Also, Westminster's boys topped John Milledge to claim a region championship Friday. Senior Nygl Eaddy nailed two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to help the Wildcats earn a 44-42 win and a round (two rounds if they win) at home in the GISA state playoffs.

Here is a link to my coverage of the Wildcats in region tournament semifinal round action Thursday:

8:16 update:
De'sha Benjamin spins and scores and Laney has built a 56-25 lead with 35 seconds remaining in the third quarter. 

As you can see in the Facebook video, the boys team is here and they are rowdy! Vincente Thompkins is the young man running with the flag while the rest of the boys cheer for the girls.

7:11 update:
Two updates. One is happy. The other not.

7:46 update:
Laney's Lady Wildcats are continuing to speed through the post season, leading the 24-2 Dawson County Lady Tigers 45-21 at halftime.

45 points in one half! This from the team that has won its last four games, all against state playoff teams, by an average margin of 30 points.

7:41 update:
Grovetown fell 84-72 to Mays at home in the sweet sixteen round of the playoffs, ending a stellar 28-2 season by the Lady Warriors.

Leading scorers:
Mays - Kamiyah Street 42
Grovetown - Destiny Marshall 24; Kwajeljn Farrar 18

6:46 update:
After trailing 35-15 in the second quarter the Grovetown Lady Warriors got a three from junior Elizabeth Metress and would finish the half on a 14-3 run when Destiny Marshall converted a fast break layup to get the Mays lead under 10 (38-29) at the break.

Destiny Marshall has scored 8 points and Daylon Young 7 to pace Grovetown. And unless I received a text with a typo, Mays's Kamiyah Street has scored 26 points (!) to lead all scorers.

6:31 update:
Mays leads Grovetown's Lady Warriors 20-10 in the first half of their sweet sixteen round game at Grovetown.

The girls basketball season here is on fire. Here is a copy of the text Will Avery just sent updating us on the college coaches that are watching area players in playoff action:

"Georgia State in to see Alexis Brown at Morgan County; Memphis is at SW Dekalb to see Alana Davis; and Belmont-Abbey and GA Southern are at Grovetown to see Kwajelin Farrar." - Will Avery

6:26 update:
I'm at Laney for the Lady Wildcats (24-4) duel with Dawson County (also 24-4) in sweet sixteen action. See below for links to my report of last season's elite 8 round instant classic classic between these teams.

Tip-off is at 7. I'll see you in the gym.

3:00 PM update:

This weekend, I'll report live with real time highlights from Laney Friday and from Miller Grove Saturday. I'll also share updates from the gyms where teams I cover are playing, and I'll share tape delayed footage from Grovetown (Friday) and Laney (Saturday). As I prepare for the fun ride this weekend will bring, the following questions spring to mind:

Laney's Bowman (right); Collier (middle); Bonner (left)
 celebrate 2015 quarterfinal win over Dawson County;
Will the Lady Wildcats upend the 24-4 Lady Tigers again?

Will Grovetown and Laney continue the trend and defend their home courts Friday?

Will Cross Creek buck the trend and win on the road at Southwest Dekalb?

Will Westminster's boys and girls claim a region title and host the first round of the GISA state tournament? 

I've heard Miller Grove's Alterique Gilbert,
a UConn signee and McDonalds All American,
is a "Ricky Moore type competitor and winner."

Can Richmond derail the Miller Grove dynasty Saturday? And is Miller Grove's UConn bound McDonalds All American as good as his reputation?

Will Laney and Westside's boys win Saturday and advance to elite 8 round at Augusta University?

Friday's rematch on the Boulevard

Friday night I'll provide real time highlights from defending 3A state champ Laney's rematch of last season's best high school game (according to me). If that game is a guide, Dawson County's sharp shooting crew, multiple fan buses, and hundreds of fans will invade the Boulevard with the goal of avenging the loss to the Lady Wildcats in last season's quarterfinals.

Laney (24-4) is scorching hot after after winning its last four games, all against state tournament teams, by a combined 119 points! Below are highlights from Wednesday's 76-36 win over Central Macon. Sophomore De'sha Benjamin dishes to senior Jasmine Bartlett for a lefty finish on the break; junior Aubrianna Bonner drives and finishes with her left hand; and senior Gemyia Bowman drop steps and scores in the post:

The Lady Wildcats have wreaked havoc on opposing offenses for decades with their full court pressure. A new wrinkle is the team's deft passing in the open court. Bonner's dish to Jhessyka Williams for the score in Wednesday's second half won the "AugBball Play of the Night" by getting the most retweets and likes at the AugBball Twitter page.

Dawson County (24-4) is also rolling after burying 10 threes in its 71-54 first round win over Calhoun. Haley Burgess made 5 of those threes and led the team with 19 points. Karlie Bearden scored 17 and logged 4 steals and 3 blocks.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Westminster's girls and boys win and advance to region championship games

Bobbi Wardwell started the fun in Milledgeville Thursday with a 10 point game closing spurt to finish a Lady Wildcat comeback win; and Michael Dukes and company kept the good times rolling by topping Gatewood 82-69 to give Westminster representatives in both championship games Friday night.

Dukes and Watson-Gayle lead 4 Wildcats in double figures

Dukes, a sophomore, opened Thursday's region tournament semifinal game against Gatewood with back-to-back threes. Senior Nygl Eaddy immediately added a third and Westminster went on to earn a spot in the finals with the win over last season's class 3A, GISA state playoff runner up.

Dukes, who finished with 32 points, played a nearly flawless game. The bouncy 6'3" sophomore buried 6 first half threes, silencing the rowdy Gatewood student section for most of the evening. Dukes has played well every time I've seen him during the past 6 months. And one of my viewing partners, Baldwin County coach Buck Harris, may have been even more impressed than I. Three times Buck snapped me out of a momentary lapse (while sending updates), saying "he just blocked another one."

The truth is the entire team played nearly flawless. Four Wildcats scored in double figures. Jelani Watson-Gayle, a junior, scored 20 points and controlled the game during the second half after Dukes and Eaddy combined for 8 first half bombs and shot Gatewood out of its zone. Watson-Gayle repeatedly beat his defender off the dribble, made the right decisions, and scored at the rim.

Eaddy and Steven Lambert scored 11 and 12 points, respectively. The seniors bring leadership, competitiveness, defensive toughness, and plenty of skill to the table.

In Friday's championship game, Westminster faces the winner between host John Milledge and Westfield. At stake is the right to host the first round of state tournament play next week.

Wardwell makes three huge plays to cap a huge comeback

Westminster's Bobbi Wardwell led a furious Lady Wildcat comeback against Westfield, capping it first with a late three to force overtime (sorry, I didn't capture that in the video above); next with a three point play to tie the game again at 39 in overtime; and finally with the go ahead three that gave Westminster its first lead of the game at 42-40. 

Westminster trailed Westfield 17-6 in the second quarter and 29-21 with 5:30 remaining in the fourth before Wardwell made the three at the top of the key with 9 seconds remaining, knotting the game at 32 and forcing overtime.

The Lady Wildcats prevailed 46-42 and earned a chance to play in Friday's championship game against the winner between top seeded Gatewood and Augusta Prep.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Laney's boys and girls, Richmond, and Westside advance to sweet sixteen round of state playoffs

Laney's boys and girls, Richmond, and Westside all advanced to the sweet sixteen round of the state playoffs Wednesday with home victories. After two days of state playoff action, seemingly every local team that had the fortune of playing its first round game at home has advanced. And I can't think of a team that played on the road and survived.

Christian Keeling (24 points) and Zep Jasper (12 points) led the way for Laney as the Wildcats topped Southwest Macon 82-62. Laney hosts the winner of Lumpkin and North Murray Saturday in the sweet sixteen round. With a win, Laney can earn a spot in the quarterfinals at Augusta University next week.

Richmond advanced past Effingham County 85-74 Wednesday, setting up a sweet sixteen round game at Miller Grove, winner of 6 of the last 7 GHSA state titles. Miller Grove features McDonalds All American Alterique Gilbert, who has signed with UConn, home of Augusta basketball legend Ricky Moore. Colin Young, an all region performer as a Laney Wildcat last season, also plays for Miller Grove.

Madison Williams is playing his best basketball at the right time. The senior Illinois State signee led the way with 32 points. And rock solid senior Rashad Calloway added 14.

Westside made quick work of Rutland, setting up a road contest at East Hall this weekend. And Laney's Lady Wildcats continued their scorching hot run through the postseason. After beating the second, third, and fourth best 3A region opponents by an average of 26 points last week, Laney topped Central Macon 76-36 Wednesday.

Eubanks and Laney silence the talk of a first round upset

Laney's Jasper and Keeling scored pretty much at will in Laney's blowout win over Southwest Macon. The seniors constantly found opportunities at the rim by penetrating and by crashing the offensive glass. The duo scored 24 (Keeling) and 12 (Jasper) against the team many thought could upset the 24-2 Wildcats.

6'7" Southwest Macon forward Justin Slocum was as good as advertised early. His heady play helped Southwest earn an early 8-3 lead. That is when Laney's young trio of promising players, Donald Henley, Tahj Tanksley, and Willie Eubanks entered the game. With the substitutions came new energy. That and coach Shaun Parks's switch from a soft 2-3 zone to an aggressive man-to-man, made all the difference.

The extra effort on the defensive end flowed to the offensive side as the ball started to move more. Henley scored attacking the basket, much like he did Saturday in the region championship win over Westside. Tanksley stroked a three to get the fans excited. Then he hit another that sent them into a frenzy while chanting "let's go Laney."

But amid all the hoopla, the contribution that was most important may have been made by 6'2" junior Willie Eubanks. The football star and hard nosed banger-of-bodies on the court matched up with Slocum and silenced him for much of the night.

If I know the Laney players like I think I do, I would guess the buzz about Southwest Macon likely ending the Wildcats' season on opening night of the playoffs sparked Laney's lopsided victory. I suppose coach Parks doesn't care why his team advanced. Just as long as they did.

The video above helps explain why Laney's Willie Eubanks earned the "AugBball Game Ball" Wednesday. The 6'2" Eubanks entered the game to guard 6'7" Justin Slocum, who came into the game averaging 22 points and shooting 70% from the field.

Starting at :20 in the video, Eubanks blocks out his bigger opponent to free Zep Jasper to get the rebound on one possession. He helps, then recovers to grab a tough 50/50 rebound on the next go. And finally his activity forces Southwest's post entry pass to Slocum to sail out of bounds. Laney took control of the game amidst defensive stops like these.

Links to state playoff coverage from local and statewide sources and more

AugBball YouTube playlist of videos made during the 2016 post season:

As you can see on the cover of this morning’s Augusta Chronicle, the playoffs are here! 

The Chronicle featured three legitimate state championship contenders: Defending South Carolina state champ Midland Valley; the 28-1 Grovetown Lady Warriors; and our 5A region’s runner up Cross Creek.

At today I report on “Ladies Night” with videos, statistics and of course my opinions of Grovetown and Cross Creek’s run through last week’s region tournament and last night’s blowout wins.

Finally, Georgia’s boys teams (and the defending state champ Laney Lady Wildcats) tip off Wednesday night. and GHSA expert Sandy Spiel have featured prominently Laney, Richmond, and Westside in its recent coverage. So have I. (I put many links to these stories below.)

Tonight my two cameras will likely catch live action from Laney’s region champion boys and girls teams; action from Richmond Academy versus Effingham County; and hopefully also footage from Westside's home game against Rutland.

Links to state playoff (and region tournament) reviews and previews from, the Augusta Chronicle, and GHSA expert Sandy Spiel

From Tuesday's games...

Grovetown and Cross Creek tip off "ladies night" in first round of state tournament action. -

Cross Creek runs by South Effingham in 32-point playoff win - Augusta Chronicle

Grovetown girls win Class AAAAA state playoff opener - Augusta Chronicle

Previews of Wednesday's home games at Laney, Richmond, and Westside

Laney and Westside are splashed all over and Kyle Sandy's state championship coverage... for good reason! - 

Hoopseen calls Laney’s Wednesday evening first round game against Southwest Macon the class’s “best game” -

Sandy Spiel ranks the area powers 3rd (Laney) and 9th (Westside) in the state - Sandy Spiel

MOST DANGEROUS 4-SEEDS - Sandy Spiel labels Richmond's first round matchup with Effingham County a possible "best game" -

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Grovetown and Cross Creek tip off "ladies night" in first round of state tournament action.

It was “ladies first” Tuesday as Grovetown and Cross Creek, two class 5A state title contenders, tipped off the state playoff action in the area. Both hosted home games in the first round of GHSA state tournament action. The boys start Wednesday evening.

Grovetown's Lady Warriors (27-1) vs Camden County (19-9)

The Lady Warriors, region 5A champions, pounded visiting Camden County 75-25 to set up a meeting Friday at Grovetown with region 6’s second seed Mays, the Atlanta school who topped defending 3A state champ Laney earlier this season. The 50 point victory Tuesday builds on a three game run through last week’s tournament in which the team’s total margin of victory was 61 points

Cross Creek (20-6) vs South Effingham (23-4)

Cross Creek is the only team to log a win over Grovetown, and the Lady Razorbacks are a contender for a 5A state title. Junior Alana Davis has been electric in the post season. Her 32 points in Tuesday’s 86-54 first round state playoff win over South Effingham comes on the heels of her averages of 26 points and 10 rebounds per game in last week’s region tournament. And point guard Nya Daniels logged a double-double with 23 points and 11 assists.

The Lady Razorbacks travel Friday to Southwest Dekalb, region 6’s top seed.

More about Grovetown and Cross Creek's post season

Grovetown is certainly on a roll. 

The team has lost only one game all season, and that loss was avenged for the second time last week when the Lady Warriors topped Cross Creek’s Lady Razorbacks 71-54 in the championship game of the class 5A, region 2 tournament.

Juniors Destiny Marshall (24 points) and Elizabeth Metress (16 points, 5 assists) led Grovetown in the game for class 5A, region 2’s top seed.

The Lady Warriors dominated last week’s three region tournament games, winning with a 20 point average margin of victory. 

The intimidating frontline of Destiny Marshall (18 ppg, 4 spg); Kwajelin Farrar (12 ppg, 15 rpg); and Ayana Collins (13 ppg, 10 rpg) led the Lady Warriors through that blitz. (These per game averages are taken only from the region tournament games.)

Davis and Daniels shine

Alana Davis's 32 points in Tuesday’s win over South Effingham followed the 6’2” center's 26 points, 10 rebound per game average in last week’s runner up finish in the class 5A, region 2 tournament.

Nya Daniels averaged 12 points and 4 assists during last week’s region class 5A, region 2 tournament. The left handed guard with a smooth stroke played a crucial role in the Lady Razorbacks’ dramatic semifinal win over Warner Robins, who was ranked number one in the state at the time.

The junior scored 23 points and dished out 11 assists in Tuesday’s 86-54 first round state playoff home win over South Effingham.

In other news...

North Augusta and Washington County’s girls, as well as Midland Valley’s boys (the defending South Carolina class 3A state champs) all won their first round games. Hephzibah and Josey’s girls' seasons ended Tuesday on the road in state playoff action.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Richmond Academy has hit the big leagues. And the Musketeers belong.

Will Avery watched Richmond fall to class 5A’s top team, Warner Robins, in its region tournament championship game Saturday. After going from that game to Laney’s 3A championship game win over Westside, the former NBA and Duke star told me he was shocked at how much deeper, bigger, and better the 5A competition is than the 3A’s. This is not a knock on 3A’s best teams. Smaller schools are naturally disadvantaged. And as an example, Laney and Westside (two of the state’s top ten teams), have no players taller than 6’2”.

Richmond has entered the big time. And the Musketeers belong. After facing Warner Robins and Marquez Calloway (a future Tennessee Volunteer footballer and the player Avery calls the best player he’s seen in person this season), the Musketeers face Effingham County, a top 10 5A team Tuesday. And if Richmond advances, the Musketeers will hit the road to play Miller Grove, winners of 6 of the last 7 state titles and home of UConn signee and McDonalds All American Alterique Gilbert, as well as Laney transfer Colin Young.

As impressive as the competition is in Richmond’s path, the Musketeers have proven to everybody I know who is following them closely that they are up to the challenge. After Illinois State bound Madison Williams sky-walked through last week’s region tournament, Avery said he hasn’t seen a player that explosive in person this season. calls Richmomd’s first round contest 5A’s “best game” and labels Williams as “one of the best players in east Georgia.”

If you watch Richmond play, it doesn’t take long to understand why they can compete even against the largest and best schools statewide. Williams is more explosive even than the likes of Warner Robins’s Calloway. Nick Roberts (6’7” senior) and Moses Williams (6’6” junior) are a skilled duo inside. Senior Rashad Calloway is as tough as they come. DT Stevens is a dynamic guard (and only a sophomore!). And sixth man Jason Weaver constantly scores at the rim despite his 6’1” frame.

After pushing Warner Robins, the only team to knock Miller Grove out of the playoffs in nearly a decade, Richmond is ready to defend its home court against Effingham County. If they are successful, the trip to Miller Grove will be the Musketeers’ stiffest test yet. It’s a good thing Richmond has all the firepower needed to handle the big time.

Laney and Westside are splashed all over and Kyle Sandy's state championship coverage... for good reason!

I so enjoy seeing Laney and Westside splashed all over ’s 3A state playoff coverage and Kyle Sandy’s 3A top 10 state rankings. These have to be the leaders in providing statewide basketball coverage and analysis.

Hoopseen calls Laney’s Wednesday evening first round game against Southwest Macon the class’s “best game” here:

The Suwannee based provider of “exposure” to aspiring basketballers goes on to identify Westside as a sort of “sleeper” in the race to Macon, where the state championship game is held (after a stop at Augusta University for the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds next week!).

And Sandy Spiel ranks the area powers 3rd (Laney) and 9th (Westside) in the state here:

All this attention is well deserved. Before Saturday’s 3A region championship game, which Laney won, was decided, these teams went back and forth during the third quarter (video above) for over two minutes with no whistles while four of the city's top ten players (Christian Keeling, then Trez Hawes, then Zep Jasper, then Christian Robinson, then Hawes again) splashed in jumpers on consecutive possessions. (See full 2+ minutes with no editing here -

While filming this series of possessions I had the thought that it showed how great Augusta basketball is. These are highly skilled and highly competitive players. The two teams battled passionately three times this season and had me sort of shaking my head in wonder most of the time.

Like I said, the attention they are receiving is well deserved. So let’s get out to their home games Wednesday and cheer them on for wins! And Saturday too. Then if they are successful we can watch them on the biggest stage in town, Augusta University, next week.

Go Cats! Go Pats!

(Note: I have not blogged here much lately, at least by my standards. But I have been putting out tons of stuff at AugBball's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. So check those out.

I blogged about Laney and Westside because of all the attention they are getting and because it is easier to share a bunch of information and a bunch of links here. If all goes as planned, I'll blog again in the morning with Richmond Academy being the subject.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the spots for my updates during regiontournament week