High School Sports

Rivals Central, Westside get things started quickly

Managing expectations part of Josh Grube's task at Westside

Westside, No. 1 in Score Atlanta's Class 3A boys basketball rankings, hosts Central on Friday.
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Westside, No. 1 in Score Atlanta's Class 3A boys basketball rankings, hosts Central on Friday.

Last winter, Kentrevious Jones helped Central edge Westside to win a region championship.

The 6-foot-11, Xavier-bound post player was hard to miss as part of a Chargers squad that went to the GHSA Class 3A quarterfinals. “Big K” averaged 17.3 points and 13.5 rebounds, complementing the play of guards Derrick Evans and Antarius McCoy.

A big change took place during the summer, however, adding to the intrigue of a city rivalry that has become one of the biggest in Middle Georgia.

When Central and Westside meet for the first time in the 2016-17 season Friday at Westside, Jones won’t be wearing the orange and blue of Central. The senior will be wearing the garnet and gold of Westside, the result of an offseason transfer.

“It’s going to be a big game,” said Jones, who averaged 19.7 points in three games with Westside. “The gym is going to sell out.”

Much has been made of Jones’ transfer, one of several notable transfers that have taken place among GHSA member schools this year in several sports, most notably football. GHSA transfer policy has come under the spotlight, and a GHSA committee is looking at possible changes to transfer rules.

While the Jones transfer is a major storyline, it isn’t the only storyline in this key pre-holiday matchup. Experienced guard play on both sides should play a role, as well.

Westside has several key pieces returning from last season, including shooting guard Khavon Moore and point guard Samone Reed, while McCoy, a senior, becomes the floor leader for Central following Jones’ transfer and the graduation of Evans.

“He’s been going since his freshman year,” said Central head coach Andre Taylor of McCoy, who opened the season with a 32-point, 21-rebound effort in a 76-57 win over Northeast. “This will be his fourth year as a starter, so we’ll expect a lot out of him.”

Central and Westside finished 1-2 in GHSA Region 2-3A last season, with the teams splitting their regular-season meetings before the Chargers prevailed 64-61 in the region championship game.

Both teams are in Region 4-3A this season, a region that looks very much like the former Region 2-3A. Southwest, Jordan and Spencer have left, while Pike County has joined.

Westside, the No. 1 team in the Score Atlanta Class 3A rankings, already has a showcase game in the books this season. The Seminoles opened with an 82-74 loss to Class 7A No. 1 Norcross in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event Nov. 26 at Holy Innocents. Jones scored 27 points on 68 percent shooting, while Reed added 22 points and Moore had 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Westside hosts Central on Friday in a key GHSA boys basketball contest.

“It was a great experience,” said Reed, who gained the attention of several college coaches and recruiting bloggers with his effort in the loss. “With that much atmosphere in that gym, I’ve never competed on that type of level before or against the caliber of the team they were. For us as a team, it was a good way to see where we were and what we had been working on against a really good team.”

Since then, Westside (2-1, 1-0 region) has a 93-50 win over FPD and an 83-37 victory over Pike County.

Central (3-0, 1-0) has the win over Northeast, a 53-48 victory over Southwest and a 68-36 win at Peach County. In addition to McCoy’s effort, senior point guard Tyrice Paul had 13 points and 10 assists in the win over Northeast.

The varsity doubleheader is slated for a 6 p.m. girls tip.

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