Sage Speaks – Two Week Edition 12/13
CUMMING, GA – Having missed our prior weekly report on regular-season action, and with so many day-long tournaments going on in-between, we cover two weeks here today with a look at 3 regular-season games from 11/30 thru 12/7.
By: Keith Agran
South Gwinnett at Chattahoochee (11/30/21)
WHAT HAPPENED: South Gwinnett W 51-42 – The Cougars couldn’t come up with a performance to back the hanging of AJ White’s jersey in the rafters as the school’s all-time leading scorer, but certainly South’s exceptional on-ball defense had a lot to do with Hooch’s woeful shooting night. But they’ll need to get more consistency from seniors Tomiwa Adetosyre, Gil Matondo and Avi Haritsa if they’re going to get through a region that features Centennial, River Ridge and Sequoyah. Sophomore guard Cameron James is an exciting prospect for Coach Chris Short, does a lot with the few touches he gets, and gives them the kind of exciting open-court athleticism that can be a momentum-changing deal. South Gwinnett have been one of the early season’s biggest sleeper surprises, as they’ve used the aforementioned defense and a mix of savvy veterans to a 10-0 record as of this publishing. The guard rotation, headlined by senior Maalik Leitch and junior Jet Horne, has skill and moxie and big shot ability when a bucket is needed, and they get highly capable backing by still more relentless attack-minded players in senior Marquin Thompson and junior Jacob Washington. The frontcourt rotation of Kam Heathington, Michael Carter and Ansar Osman all go 6-5 or better and can get off the deck, guard the rim, and out-physical you on the glass. Heathington in particular is coming off a summer where his high-flying antics caught my eye, and he hasn’t missed a beat in a Comets uniform.
KEEP AN EYE ON this whole South Gwinnett team >> Coach Quaree Howard has really got a culture brewing there, one that the kids are clearly buying into. You wouldn’t say they’ve cakewalked their way to 10-0, as the boast road wins over Buford, Hooch and most recently Discovery, not easy places to get wins. They’ll get stern tests in Region with Newton, Grayson and Parkview, and have a neutral-court date Jan. 8 with Pace Academy which also stands as a key litmus test.
Mill Creek at Parkview (12/3/21)
WHAT HAPPENED: Parkview 67-65 W (OT) – The home Panthers had control a good portion of the game, but a 20-13 final qtr sent the game to extra time, where Asher Woods (27 pts) and FT-shooting held off Jonathan Taylor’s all 7 in OT. Mill Creek was getting their football players back, and most notably sophomore guard Trajen Greco and junior forward Brendan Jenkins (12 pts off the bench) were huge all night despite not having their full legs under them just yet. Greco is a young star on the rise in both sports, and his 16 pts were but a precursor to what he has in the tank as a lead guard who can penetrate and shoot the 3. The overall Hawks picture is young and bright, as juniors Taylor, Jenkins, Nate Eroh and sophomore Stephen Jackson Jr (not in uniform) provide a nice core with Greco looking forward. Parkview lost stud sophomore Mike Matthews early in the game to a knee injury, so it became more of a Woods-type effort where the slasher was getting to the rack with regularity. But we know they have more than that, the Panthers didn’t get nearly enough from senior guard Jordan Riley and 6-5 Nehki Fisher, and that’s not a sustainable recipe even with a healthy Matthews. Since I was there they’ve dropped 2 close road games to Peachtree Ridge and Providence Christian, both without Matthews (severity of knee injury unknown).
KEEP AN EYE ON Greco >> There’s a little something extra in the way he goes about his business out there, a quiet combo of confidence and ability that is a 1/2 step ahead, and will only sharpen as he gets more reps on the floor.
Blessed Trinity at North Cobb (12/7/21)
WHAT HAPPENED: Blessed Trinity W 57-38 – BT went out 20-3 in the 1st qtr and were never really threated after that. Love the work 6-9 junior Brigham Rogers puts in nightly, as he has gained so much in his game both on the block and as a face-up threat, he put a cool and yet powerful 21 pts on the Warriors. He got good support from yet another freshman in town making waves, Ty Harpring, the nephew of former Georgia Tech star Matt Harpring. The youngster likes to find the arc, and he did so early and often, knocking down 5 treys and finishing with 21 of his own. Springy junior forward Cole Weaver was just coming back from football, and rapidly-improving 6-4 junior guard James Connolly needs to see the ball in his hands more for this Titans team to reach its potential. North Cobb remains one of the real enigmas of the ATL-Metro. Sure, they’ve lost some players who decided not to play this year, and others still seem to be disengaged or not playing up to par, but with a lineup that includes senior Alex Acosta and juniors Evan Daniel, Demonte Pellot and Jalan Johnson, there should be more excitement in Warrior country. Acosta provides the energy and fight, and the three 2023’s can be athletic and formidable in spurts on the attack, it just needs to be unleashed.
KEEP AN EYE ON Connolly >> He comes from good stock with former player, ATL All-Stars Coach and Dad Chris, and we’ve seen in spots over the summer and the fall where when given space to work he can get into the mid-range and do damage and be a growing force near the rim as well.
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.