“Deft Handle” – 5 GHSA Playoff Program Impression-Makers
GHSA PLAYOFFS – Here are some programs I either got to see live during their playoff runs, caught on-demand or saw earlier in the season and am not at all surprised they made it so far.
By: Keith Agran
BUTLER (AA, Augusta, GA)
Playing without one of their stars in injured 2022 guard Kedar Bodie, they swatted that handicap aside and find themselves in an all-Augusta, AA final anyway vs Westside. After seeing them dispatch of a really good Pace team on their floor, I’m not terribly surprised they made the final. As part of a relentless and athletic team strategy that features a deep rotation of guys that get after it, 2022 Kendrell Glanton and 2023 Zy’quan Grant have been explosive on the attack and ferocious on defense. They feature a 2025 to watch as well in guard Marcus Scurry Jr.
CROSS CREEK (AAA, Augusta, GA)
More from the Augusta-area, except this shouldn’t be too big a surprise for a program that, oh by the way, won 25 games both of the previous 2 seasons and captured the AAA crown last year taking down Jabari Smith and Sandy Creek. They returned 3 terrific standout guards from those years in Dayshawn Adams, Jaquez Ellison and Jayden Pack, diminutive in size perhaps but with hearts big enough to take down giants. They can defend, blow-by you, and knock down 3’s in bunches. Terrenice Streetman is an active 6-7 2022 forward who gives them swatting on defense and nimble finishing around the basket, so their matchup with an equally athletic Windsor Forest team has all kinds of intrigue.
WINDSOR FOREST (AAA, Savannah, GA)
Savannah and Augusta teams put it on the chin to several Atlanta programs throughout these playoffs, and Forest from start to finish has been perhaps the most impressive overall and a favorite since the preseason. Came into Atlanta for Holiday Hoopsgiving at Shiloh and then again at the Grayson New Year’s Classic and put on a display, led of course by Georgetown-commit D’ante Bass. Junior Qurahn Anderson is the next stud in line, a freakish athlete like Bass with some really nice skills in the halfcourt as a natural, bunches-scorer. They get toughness inside from senior Abasi Scott and more backcourt speed and thrills from two more seniors in Javonte Landy and Keane Carter.
MCDONOUGH (AAAA, McDonough, GA)
My first, up-close look since the summer was an impressive road win at a really solid Druid Hills team in the AAAA Elite 8, and though they didn’t make it past the semifinals 2 days later (their second consecutive Final Four), what I saw out on that floor was a gutty, physical, tough team that really impressed me. If you want to talk resumes, take a look on MaxPreps, it looks pretty good to me, and I’d wager had they come up to any of the marquee Showcases throughout the ATL-Metro from November to January and won a game or two, very little would be made of their strength of schedule. But talent-wise, this team will be back next year in a big way, with the 4 really good guards in 2023’s Daavion Thomas, Avante Nichols and Amon McDowell alongside fast-rising 2024 Keenan Gray (pictured above) all leading the charge.
KING’S RIDGE (A-Private, Alpharetta, GA)
The benefit of being on the opposite side of the draw from Greenfrest cannot be ignored, but they still had to win 4 games to make it to the A-Private final now opposite those Eagles from Decatur. Enormous credit to Coach Bob Martin and crew for molding this group the way they have, a team that can and does morph from high-pace to slow-down, from 3-point bombers to attack-the-rim assassins. It’s the versatility and basketball-IQ’s of the participants that make that possible, a pair of key seniors in guards Liam Thomas and Carson Wolfel, and some dynamic juniors led by PG Isaac Martin, SG Zak Thomas and forward Micah Hoover. And their wild-card vs the goliath that is Greenforest could be fast-rising 2024 Jack Thomas, Liam’s younger brother and a highly-skilled shooting guard who has the chops to be something really special.
Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019 and has both a championship-coaching background on the HS-level and daily newspaper writing experience, both from New Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.