By James Butler
With the regular season winding down this week, this will be our last Southern Crescent Power Rankings before the region tournaments begin.
The top-three teams remain unchanged from the last rankings, but the seven remaining spots all have a different squad filling the space, with one of those teams making a return to the Top 10.
Morrow is the high-riser this week as the Mustangs are the latest Southern Crescent team to give an indication that they may be ready for a state run.
The Cardinals closed out their Region 4-AAAA schedule with an undefeated record, getting four blowout wins in seven days. None of those wins was more talked about than their 100-plus point victory over Pike County. Having already faced the No. 1 team in America in Chino Hills (Ca), earlier this season, Jonesboro gets one final tune-up game Wednesday before embarking on another state championship run when it travels to Virginia to faced storied powerhouse Oak Hill Academy.
Over the past two weeks McIntosh has gotten impressive victories in some tricky environments, winning at Morrow, Stockbridge, and Drew. That is the mark of a team that looks to be ready for postseason play. With only two losses on the season, both coming against Class AAAAAA schools, McIntosh remains on the short list of Class AAAAA State Championship contenders.
3. Eagle’s Landing
The third team in the triumvirate, Eagle’s Landing, continues to win as well. An 85-77 win at Eastside is just the type of outcome the Eagles have come to expect in games that test their mettle. Jordan Lewis (22 points), Tarrence Evans (18 points), Antonio Gibson (16 points), and Rashad Elloie (10 points) all scored in double figures as nine of the 11 players Eagle’s Landing played scored.
Morrow has gone from unranked to being in the top-four in four weeks. The Mustangs’ three wins last week were highlighted with a 75-64 victory over then-No. 5 Drew. Only one senior is amongst Morrow’s top-seven scorers, so to see head coach Creswell Foy’s Mustangs become the most improved team in the entire Southern Crescent is very believable.
5. North Clayton
North Clayton falls a spot with its loss to Cedar Grove, but thanks to playing teams like the Saints, South Atlanta, Westminster, and Therrell in Region 4-AAA, the Eagles get tested often. The 6-foot-8 senior Ahsan Asadullah has continued his growth into being a force in the post this season for North Clayton.
6. Sandy Creek
Sandy Creek occupied the No. 4 spot in the initial rankings, before eventually falling by two points to Whitewater. Since then, the Patriots dropped a 58-56 game to Carrollton, but followed that with 76-64 win over then No. 6 Fayette County. Sandy Creek heads into the final week of the regular season with only two losses Region 5-AAAA and in good position to jockey its way into the state tournament.
The Tigers move up to No. 7 despite suffering a loss to McIntosh. Stockbridge led the Chiefs at the half and was tied with them entering the fourth quarter before being outscored 22-8 in a 73-59 defeat. Sophomore forward Kavante Ivery scored 22 points in that loss and 16 points in a subsequent win over Luella as he provides the Tigers a complement to the high-scoring duo of JaDon Davis and Virgil Fields.
8. Mundy’s Mill
Replacing Whitewater, the Mundy’s Mill Tigers return to the Top 10 after dropping out of last week’s rankings. Mundy’s Mill did split a pair of games with Drew last week, losing by six, but winning by 18. With games against McIntosh and Morrow to close out the regular season, Mundy’s Mill will know just exactly where it stands headed into the Region 4-AAAAA Tournament.
Drew’s 72-61 loss to McIntosh on Monday put the Titans’ losing streak at three games, but all of those losses came against good Southern Crescent teams who are ranked ahead of them. Still, Drew will likely have to get back to the quality of play it had earlier in the season if it wants to make it into the top-four of a tough Region 4-AAAAA Tournament.
10. Fayette County
Fayette County falls four spots in the rankings after back-to-back losses to Woodward Academy and Sandy Creek. Fayette County could not overcome an early deficit to Sandy Creek and saw a strong Woodward Academy third quarter turn the tide of a 59-57 defeat. Not much separates the top teams of the six-team Region 5-AAAA in terms of quality, so head coach Andre Flynn’s team will be capable of finishing almost anywhere once the region tournament begins.