By James Butler
Movement abounds in this week’s boys rankings. Mundy’s Mill drops out thanks to its 53-41 loss to Creekside, while North Clayton and Morrow continue their ascent and Drew and Fayette County return to their position in the initial rankings. McIntosh was the only member of the top-three teams to have a scare last week as Jonesboro and Eagle’s Landing continue to demolish opponents.
Speaking of Jonesboro, the Cardinals got a solid win over a solid Eastside club its last time out on Tuesday. Jonesboro used balance scoring as James “M.J.” Walker led the way with 22 points, while Eric Lovett added 17 points, Jamari Smith 16, and Tariq Jenkins 11. Jenkins also dished out 7 assists, while Walker and Smith both finished with 10. We all know Walker can carry Jonesboro for stretches, but the more the Cardinals’ box score reflects the balance they have shown in its two previous championship seasons; the more dangerous they will become come tournament time.
McIntosh received a scare from Morrow in a hotly-contested game, but remains at No. 2. Both McIntosh and Morrow may have had reason to disapprove of the officiating in their contest, but the Chiefs did enough to win. McIntosh played without its point guard Will Washington down the stretch because the senior fouled out. Nevertheless, Jordan Lyons’ 25 points, Chase Walter’s 11, and Isaac Kellum’s 10 (eight coming on big free throws) helped give the Chiefs the 68-63 win. McIntosh hosts Starr’s Mill tonight and visits Southern Crescent Buzz-ranked Drew Saturday.
3. Eagle’s Landing
The Eagles received consideration for the second spot after McIntosh’s nail-biter. Eagle’s Landing handed Region 4-AAAA foe Walnut Grove its second loss of the season after a 69-61 home win last Friday. Freshman guard Christopher Hood led the way with 18 points, half of which came off three-pointers, while fellow guard Jordan Lewis contributed 16. Intriguing matchups with Henry County and non-region opponent Cedar Grove awaits the next two days.
4. North Clayton
The North Clayton Eagles are the new No. 4 team as the Eagles increased its win streak to five games thanks to a 77-55 victory at Towers on Tuesday. These Eagles actually host Cedar Grove, who is in Region 4-AAA with them, tonight before Eagle’s Landing get a shot at the Saints. Head coach Martisse Troup’s (pictured) team has a very winnable game at McNair that follows, but cracking the top-three will be tough.
Drew is back at No. 5 with its only losses this season being to No. 2 McIntosh and No. 4 North Clayton, though the Titans do have a win over North Clayton from very early in the season. After suffering the loss to the Eagles the previous week, Drew got a couple of expected victories last week. The Titans dispatched Luella 73-49 and defeated Northgate 61-52. Drew hosts Forest Park tonight and McIntosh Saturday as the Titans will have another opportunity to show they are as good as their record.
6. Fayette County
Entering tonight’s game at Carrollton, Fayette County is on a four-game winning streak. The Tigers’ most impressive victory in that stretch came this past Tuesday when they beat Whitewater 53-43. Fayette County outscored Whitewater 38-22 in the second half after trailing by six points at halftime. Fayette County is currently near the bottom of the six-team Region 5-AAAA, but as of late the Tigers are probably playing the best basketball in the region.
The close loss to McIntosh is not the only indication on how well the Mustangs have been playing lately. Morrow performed admirably in two games in Florida last weekend, and its 72-70 win over Southwest DeKalb back on Dec. 21, still ranks as one of the best victories by any Southern Crescent team this season. Sophomore guard Levitiscus Glover has been a catalyst for the Mustangs during their improved play.
8. Sandy Creek
Sandy Creek was finally unable to pullout a close game when it dropped a 56-54 decision to Whitewater last Friday. Though the Patriots comeback attempt fell short against Whitewater, they were able to get subsequent wins over Lovejoy and Woodward Academy. The win over Woodward Academy put Sandy Creek alone in first place in Region 5-AAAA
Whitewater was unable to keep up its momentum after knocking off Sandy Creek. The Wildcats lost to Southwest Atlanta Christian in a non-region contest and to Region 5-AAAA foe Fayette County. They can claw their way back up in the jockeying for region-tournament seeding, and the Southern Crescent Buzz’s rankings, with a win over Woodward Academy tonight before traveling to Starr’s Mill Saturday.
Stockbridge replaces Mundy’s Mill in the rankings. The Tigers haven’t faced the best competition since falling to Eagle’s Landing 84-78 on Jan. 9, but they do have four straight wins. Seniors JaDon Davis (23.6 ppg) and Virgil Fields (19.3 ppg) form one of the highest-scoring duos in the state.