A-Private State Tournament Preview – February 13, 2020
Down Odom has St. Francis (GA) as the clear favorite to take home the A-Private Championship.
St. Francis has separated themselves from most of the other teams in A-Private, holding a record of 25-3 with their only losses coming to Wheeler in November and then two out-of-state teams over Christmas Break. They have been tested a bit more recently, but reminded people of who they are with a 79-50 Region Championship win over a Top 5 team in Mount Pisgah. With Dwon Odom leading the pack and other reliable pieces at numerous positions, the Knights have been atop the classification since the start of the season and are the clear favorite to take home the A-Private Championship once again.
Although Greenforest has been without the immense size that they sported to start the year for a while, they’re still a big team with a lot of talent and 2022 G Chase Cormier transferred in mid-year. Drexel signee Lamar Oden and MTSU signee Christian Fussell give the Eagles two guys that many in A-Private are not capable of matching up with. Add in their sophomore trio of Jalen Forrest, Florian Tenebay, and Chase Cormier to go along with a defensive menace in junior Khi Cook, and they have a really solid core. Greenforest has already secured a Sweet 16 berth with their first-round bye and they have their eyes on getting back to the State Championship game for the first time since 2017, in which they beat Southwest Atlanta Christian.
After a rough stretch late in January,Walker was able to regain some momentum last week with a 25-point win over the #6 overall seed in the bracket, Christian Heritage. When they’re clicking, the Wolverines are a really explosive offensive team with multiple guys that can go for big numbers. Chandler Baker and Chris Newell are taking on a heavier load in the backcourt with Omar Cooper out with injury, and then Burke Chebuhar gives them a versatile threat at the forward spot. I haven’t heard if Cooper will return from his injury, but if he does come back and Matt Brown or other guys can step up, Walker could make a nice run.
Mount Pisgah has been up and down at times this year but they are a talented team and have given St. Francis a good battle twice this year before SF pulled away in the 4thquarter each time. They have competent guys at almost every position with JoJo Peterson, Chase Tucker, Nate Gordon, and Chandler Minton headlining the team, as well as important role guys like Nick Speros, Garrett Sutherland, and Gabe Carter. Minton is the only senior for the Patriots and their youth can hurt them at times, but, similar to Walker, they can get hot at any moment and have weapons that others in A-Private just don’t.
Given that they’re the #3 overall seed, it may be unfair to call Riverside Military a sleeper team, but you won’t hear them being talked about as much as other teams. After losing 4 straight games, the Eagles responded with a 5-game winning streak to take their Region Championship and boost their seeding for the playoffs. They play a fast, aggressive style and are led by guys like Shad Dabney, Areeb Ahmad, and Bryce Klacynski.
Savannah Country Day has quietly made their way up towards the top of the classification, taking the #8 seed in the bracket. Former Pace Academy HC Demetrius Smith has taken over the Hornet program and they are 19-9 as we start the playoffs. SCDS is 14-2 since the New Year, with their 2 losses coming by a combined 5 points. They will get the chance to prove themselves against teams from the northern part of the state after a first-round bye.
Providence Christian is 24-2 but still aren’t being looked at as a serious contender in A-Private by most. They have a really good perimeter duo in Elijah Williams and Chance Thacker with some supporting pieces around them. The Storm were upset by Athens Christian in their region tournament but still have the #7 seed and a bye to start the playoffs. That extra time should allow them to regroup and refocus.
Pinecrest will likely be Providence’s 2ndround opponent and I think that will be a really good battle. Although they haven’t played this year, both teams are very familiar with each other and have some impressive young players. They have started to put things together late in the season with recent wins over Mount Pisgah, Walker, and North Cobb Christian, and then a close loss to Pisgah in the Region Semifinal.
Giancarlo Bastianoni has been hurt recently for Trinity Christian and the Lions dropped to the #11 seed in the bracket, but I could see them coming out of their quadrant and reaching the Final 4. They only lost to Greenforest by 1 point in the middle of January and have some really good players. Alongside Bastianioni are Brady Burnett, Raul Arias, and Isaac Brito, who all have size and versatility as perimeter players.
1stRound & Potential 2ndRound Matchups to Watch
#20 Mt. Bethel vs. #13 Mt. Paran
#19 St. Anne-Pacelli vs. #14 North Cobb Christian
#18 Whitefield Academy vs. #15 Galloway
#10 Pinecrest vs. #7 Providence Christian
#12 Wesleyan vs. #5 Mount Pisgah
#11 Trinity Christian vs. #6 Christian Heritage