Recapping the local basketball season

March 6, 2013 

The Georgia High School Association and the Macon Coliseum hosts 14 prep basketball championship games Thursday through Saturday. Does hoop gluttony count as a deadly sin?

Regardless of what one thinks of that bucket excess (six classifications? a public-private split at Class A? Really?), there’s no denying the eyes of all of Georgia will be fixated on Macon and the midstate this weekend. That’s as it should be, given the history of “Macon Madness.”

We’ve suffered split venues -- Atlanta for the highest classes, Macon for smaller schools -- long enough. Given the fact scheduling is tight for metro Atlanta facilities like the Gwinnett Center, here’s hoping the powers that be press their advantage and keep it -- all of it -- here in the future.

The Sun News area won’t be represented in any of those 14 games. Our last participant in a GHSA basketball title game was John Chance’s Perry girls team which lost to Tasha Humphrey and Gainesville in 2003.

That’s not to say this past basketball season didn’t have its highlights. To the contrary, there were many, including a bona fide miracle.

Of the 14 teams represented in this readership area, 11 qualified for either the GHSA or GISA state tournaments. That’s compared with six from last year. An additional classification in GHSA helped, but the level of basketball increased, as well.

The Warner Robins girls team won a third consecutive region championship when it rallied to beat Evans in overtime in the Region 2-AAAAA title game. The Demonettes have qualified for the state playoffs 11 times in the millennium.

The Northside girls earned their ninth consecutive playoff berth. The Eagles won at least one time at state in seven of those seasons, including this one.

The Veterans girls qualified for state for the first time in school history. The Warhawks did it the hard way, winning a pair of elimination games before finishing third in Region 2-AAAA.

On the boys side, the Northside boys team made history of its own. The Eagles won the 20th annual Bear Brawl Holiday Tournament for the first time. Northside also won its second consecutive region championship -- a first at the school.

Perry returned to the state playoffs for the first time in five years in impressive fashion, upsetting Butler in the first round.

And your miracle? Westfield’s Tucker Moody collapsed and stopped breathing during a home game with Crisp Academy. He was revived -- and his life saved, according to several in attendance -- by an emergency room physician who was in the crowd after watching her daughter play for the opponent. Dr. Sheila Southerland earned MVP honors that night. Here’s my picks for the best of the rest for the 2012-13 season.

Boys all-Sun News basketball team

Player of the year: Jarius Smith, Northside. (Senior; 2-AAAAA co-player of the year; strong leadership and all-around game.)

Coach of the year: Brett Hardy, Perry (His sophomore-dominated team competed for Region 2-AAAA title until the final week.)

First Team

Juvaun Shine, Warner Robins. (Senior; marksman sports incredibly quick release. Averaged 15 points per game.)

K.J. Smith, Perry (Sophomore; led the area in scoring with 562 points.)

Davon Akins, Houston County (Senior; led the Bears with an 18-point scoring average.)

Jonathan Robertson, Veterans (Senior; averaged just under 20 points per game.)

Robert Davis, Northside (Senior; nearly averaged a double-double -- 10.4 points, 9.8 rebounds.)

Honorable mention: Andrew Graham (Houston County); Justin Burnam, Christian Kennedy (Northside); Reginald Bryant, Chris Gibson (Peach County); Jamal Bagley, Marquez Thomas (Perry); Malik Broughton (Veterans); Chris Amos, James Beeland (Westfield); Marquez Callaway, Nathan Curtis (Warner Robins)

Girls all-Sun News basketball team

Player of the year: Asha Stegall, Warner Robins (Senior; 2-AAAAA player of the year averaged 14.2 points per game. Scored 29 in region finale.)

Coach of the year: Tom Mobley, Warner Robins (Coined Demonettes’ motto “WWU: We Win Ugly.” Overtime win in region title game was a thing of beauty, however.)

First Team

Jalyn Slaughter, Veterans (Junior; averaged double figures in points and rebounds.)

Tia Williams, Northside (Junior; averaged 10.8 points per game.)

Karissa Engram, Houston County (Senior; led Bears to first playoff berth in six years.)

Nausia Woolfook, Peach County (Freshman; scored 25 or more points 13 times.)

Aaliyah Cheatham, Perry (Sophomore; scored about one-third of the Panthers’ points.)

Honorable mention: Alexia Williams, Justice Wright (Houston County); Shambria Smith, Mekhaela Witherspoon (Northside); Alexia Green (Peach County); Kerregan Poe-Cochran, Aspen Coggins (Veterans); Callie Hammerle, Valerie McLure, Sydney Ledford (Westfield); Tesia Walker (Warner Robins).

Contact Chris Deighan at cdeighan@cox.net.

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