By James Butler
The top four teams in the boys rankings remain the same, but there is change at the bottom of the Top 10. Both Stockbridge and Henry County looked good in losses to Eagle’s Landing and Jonesboro respectively, but was it good enough for the Tigers to remain in the rankings and for the Warhawks to enter them? Also, North Clayton’s big win over Drew shook up the middle of the rankings. The Southern Crescent Buzz Boys Basketball Top 10 is as follows.
Sandwiched in between an 88-44 win over Griffin and a 91-41 win over Spalding was the 70-65 overtime victory over Henry County for the Cardinals. James (M.J.) Walker scored 33 points against Henry County as he may be tasked with pulling victory from the jaws of defeat if Jonesboro finds itself in more tense moments as the season progress.
McIntosh smashed Union Grove, Woodland, and Luella over the last week with Woodland being the team of the three Chiefs opponents who has been the most competitive this season. Jordan Lyons (pictured) led McIntosh in scoring in all three games, but the second-leading scorer in each game was a different Chief player. Having a standout scorer like Lyons surrounded by balance makes McIntosh especially tough to matchup against.
3. Eagle’s Landing
Eagle’s Landing 80-78 escape from Stockbridge on Saturday was also surrounded by blowouts. Eagle’s Landing pulled away in the second half for a 76-49 win over Eastside on Friday and thumped Hampton 95-45 on Tuesday. A one-loss Walnut Grove team visits Eagle’s Landing tonight in a pivotal Region 4-AAAA showdown.
4. Sandy Creek
The Patriots have been cutting it close as of late, but wins are wins. An overtime win at Region 5-AAAA rival and county rival Fayette County, followed by a 12-point win over a down Banneker team, and a two-point win over another region foe in Carrollton have Sandy Creek enjoying a five-game winning streak. As they go into their game with Whitewater tonight, the Patriots have a share of the region lead along with Woodward Academy.
5. North Clayton
North Clayton defeated Jackson, Drew, and Decatur over the last seven days, but it was the win over Drew that help vault the Eagles into the Top 5. After trailing 42-36 at halftime, North Clayton cranked up the defense and outscored Drew 16-4 in the third quarter as the Eagles would not look back. Guard Jamarcus Sanders led the Eagles with 20 points, while Kindle Vildor had 13 and Ahsan Asadullah added 12.
The Titans fall a spot after the loss to North Clayton, but one off quarter will not define Drew’s season. Drew’s next three games are at home versus Luella, at Northgate, and at Forest Park, which means it is a realistic chance that the Titans will go into its Jan. 23 game against McIntosh with the hope for the No. 1 seed of the Region 4-AAAAA Tournament still within reach.
7. Fayette County
The 78-73 overtime loss to Sandy Creek stung and the Tigers followed it with a narrow 64-61 loss to Woodward Academy. Junior forward Noah Gurley did all he could to keep Fayette County competitive, averaging 21.5 points per game in the two defeats.
Whitewater won 43-41 at Carrollton last Friday and followed it up with double-digit defeats of Northgate and Troup County. Senior post player Zach Yeager was nearly unstoppable against Carrollton, scoring more than half of the Wildcat points as he finished with 22 for the night. Whitewater has an opportunity to make a statement tonight against Sandy Creek.
9. Mundy’s Mill
Mundy’s Mill, who has won each of its four games in the 2016 calendar year, moves up one spot to No. 9. The Tigers have not exactly beaten the who’s who of Region 4-AAAAA over the last week or so, but give them credit for beating those teams they did beat. Kaelon Harris is averaging 19 points per game over the Tigers’ three most recent games.
Morrow is the lone boys team making its debut in the rankings this week. Like Mundy’s Mill, Morrow has a winning streak that has not seen the Mustangs play top-flight teams over the past few games. However, Morrow’s five-game winning streak began in December with a win over one of the better teams in Class AAAAA in Southwest DeKalb. The Mustangs started the season with underclassmen getting valuable minutes, so maybe Morrow has matured and is elevating into a team to watch when it comes to the state tournament.