Landmark girls take crown, five others make state playoffs

Tue, 02/14/2006 - 3:30pm
By: Michael Boylan

Christian Hunnicutt
The state basketball tournaments will begin this Friday and there are six local teams participating, all with dreams of achieving state glory.

Boys - AAAAA

• Starr’s Mill (13-15) vs. Beach (22-5), Friday, 7 p.m.

The Panthers shocked a lot of people in the Georgia basketball community when they stopped Fayette County’s 16 game winning streak in the region semi-finals with a 63-54 win over the Tigers. Starr’s Mill lost to the Newnan Cougars in the region championship but had already earned themselves a home game to kick off the state tournament. Coached by Brandon Hutchins since Dave Edinger left the team for medical reasons, the Panthers play aggressively on the boards but also show patience on offense. Mark Harris has often been the team’s leading scorer but every member has made valuable contributions and stepped up at various points during the season. Other players to watch are Bo Tiller, Spencer Shelton Justin Reed and Kerwin Fenn among others.

Beach has some tremendous talent and athleticism. In a double overtime loss to Savannah in the region 3-AAAAA semi-finals, the Bulldogs had four scorers in double digits. One player to watch will be Musa Abdullah, but players like James Fields, Greg Thomas and Ladoris Green can also put some points on the board.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of Tri-Cities and Lowndes in Macon on Feb. 23.

• Fayette County (24-2) @ Savannah (19-8), Friday, 6 p.m.

The Tigers bounced back from their loss to the Panthers with a win over Mundy’s Mill in the consolation game. Fayette County has a talented team and can do many things on the court. The Tigers have no problem penetrating to the basket and drawing fouls but are also dangerous perimeter shooters. They have had big nights from nearly everyone on their squad during the season with Channing Welch providing a presence in the post and players like Cameron Carruthers, Chris Pettaway and Jeremiah Enloe all capable of going off on scoring tangents, while playing solidly on defense. Eleven of Fayette County’s 24 wins this year have been by six points or less, proving that the team knows how to win in close games.

The sting of last week’s loss is likely still fresh in the Tigers minds and that may not bode well for the Blue Jackets chances, despite being the home team. Savannah is a team however that refuses to be put away by their opponents. There were several games this year where the Blue Jackets were down by large margins and yet the team came back and found ways to win. They have a dangerous outside shooter in Casey Mitchell and also get good performances on a regular basis from Kevin Williams and Antwon Sniden.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of Houston County and Lithonia on Feb. 23 in Macon.

Girls - AAAAA

• Starr’s Mill (16-12) @ Beach (25-2), 7 p.m.

The Lady Panthers went 9-3 in their first 12 games but slowed down a bit in 2006. The girls have some solid talent on the team, including Alexis Shaffer, Kirstin Massmann, Meredith Lytle and Emily Woodward, among others. They have also won several close games in the second half of the season but have gone 3-3 in their last six games. When they win game, it is often due to good shooting, solid defensive execution and good rebounding.

Beach is led by senior Christy Marshall, who will play for the University of Georgia next year, and two freshman, Monique Willis and Dominique Washington.

The winner of this game will meet the winner of Lowndes and Redan in Macon on Feb. 24.

Boys - AAAA

• Sandy Creek (12-16) @ Griffin (17-9), 7 p.m. Friday

The Sandy Creek Patriots tend to play to the level of their competition, which is a good thing when they play tough opponents, as the Bears are sure to be. While they are a young team, Coach Dwayne White has seen his team improve as the season has gone on and reduce the number of costly mistakes they made early on. The Patriots have some good shooters, can penetrate the lanes and often rebound well, while playing a defense that can force mistakes. With players like Chris James, Josh Houston, David Milland and Phillip Woo all having nights where they led the team, this team can expect big things if all of those players click at the same time.

Griffin has won seven games in a row and has a lot of height and athleticism. In addition to the guard play of Sidney Harris, which has helped lead the Bears to a region title, the team also greatly benefits from the play of 6’7” forwards Charles Corbin and Eddie Adams.

The winner of this game will meet the winner of Ware County and Baldwin on Feb. 24 at Columbus State University.

Girls - AAAA

Sandy Creek (22-5) vs. Warner Robins (24-4), 6 p.m., Saturday

The Lady Patriots made it back to the region championship game but lost to Woodward Academy. They had already wrapped up a home game though and will get to take on the Lady Demons in front of a friendly crowd. Sandy Creek has had winning streaks of eight and seven games this year and has been led in scoring in the majority of their games by Morganne Campbell. To advance very far in the state tournament though, they will need a team effort similar to the ones they have received all season.

Warner Robins appears on paper to be a very similar team to Sandy Creek. They have winning streaks of 11 and eight games and while they have a little more height at some positions, including center with Junior Kittery Maine, 6’4”, there doesn’t appear to be a wide contrast in talent. These two teams should be close in talent level and the game should be tremendous.

The winner will take on the winner of Jones County and Lee County at Columbus State University on Feb. 23.

Girls - A

• Landmark Christian (20-6) vs. Trion, (8-15), 6 p.m., Saturday

The Landmark Christian School Lady War Eagles defeated the reigning region champion Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy girls 41-40 last Saturday to capture the region title in Coach Jim Waller’s first year at the school. Not bad for a team that only brought out nine girls to the tryouts. Landmark plays a controlled style game and every player appears to know the fundamentals, meaning they can all shoot, pass, play defense and rebound. Christian Hunnicutt is undoubtedly their star player but teammates Diamond Hunnicutt, Kelsey Knapp, Kassi Deel, Andrea Fergus and Jo’el Christian can and have all stepped up throughout the season.

Trion is a junior heavy team that bounced back after an 0-8 start. They also kicked off their region schedule in January with back to back one point wins over region foes Temple and Bremen. The Lady Bulldogs only senior is shooting guard Rozellyn Eubanks but junior Jasma Cooper has also played well throughout the year and been a leader on the court.

The winner will meet the winner of the Jefferson, Aquinas game at Georgia Highlands College on Feb. 23.

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