High School Sports

These 5 Columbus area teams still have a chance to win a 2019 state basketball title

Carver Boys defeat Howard, advance to next round of state basketball tournament

The Tigers from G.W. Carver High School in Columbus defeated Howard 76-49 Thursday night to advance to the next round of the Georgia High School Athletic Association's state basketball tournament. Here are our favorite photos of the game.
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The Tigers from G.W. Carver High School in Columbus defeated Howard 76-49 Thursday night to advance to the next round of the Georgia High School Athletic Association's state basketball tournament. Here are our favorite photos of the game.
After another round of games this week, five Columbus area high school basketball teams still are in contention for a 2019 state championship, including two schools with their boys and girls teams remaining in the playoffs.

Carver boys

In the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA boys second round (Sweet 16), Region 1 first seed Carver won at home 76-49 Thursday against Region 2 second seed Howard.

The Tigers advanced to the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) and will play at home 6 p.m. Wednesday against Region 5 second seed Cartersville, which beat Region 7 fourth seed West Hall 83-55.

Leading the Tigers in scoring were senior guard A.J. Watts (21 points), senior forward Jalen King (14) and senior guard Devin Flowers (11 points).

Although the Tigers were up by 13 points at halftime, head coach Warren Beaulah told his players he still wasn’t happy with their performance. The solution, he said, wasn’t to change their scheme but to increase their effort and decrease their errors.

“It was all on us,” he said. “We were our own worst enemy.”

So in the third quarter, Beaulah said, “We started playing Carver basketball.”

The way the Tigers answered his challenge impressed him.

“It says a lot that they respond to coaching, a little constructive criticism” he said.

Noting that his team will be the only one in the city with a home playoff game next week, Beaulah added, “Everybody needs to come out and support us.”

The past two years, Carver lost in the Elite Eight to St. Pius X both times. This year, St. Pius is on the other side of the bracket.

Carver girls

In the Class AAAA girls second round (Sweet 16), Region 1 first seed Carver remained undefeated (29-0) by winning 76-36 at home Thursday against Region 3 third seed Cross Creek.

The Tigers advanced to the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) and will play 6 p.m. Wednesday at Region 6 first seed Heritage-Catoosa, which beat Region 8 third seed Oconee County 53-42.

“We’re excited where we’re at,” said Carver head coach Anson Hundley. “We’re looking to continue to improve on last year, and we’re on the right track.”

Last year, the Tigers went 29-2 and lost in the Class AAAA semifinals (Final Four) 58-51 to eventual champion Spalding.

Carver’s full-court press overwhelmed Cross Creek.

“We were able to score quite a few points off steals and layups,” Hundley said.

Carver’s leading scorers weren’t available before deadline.

Marion County boys

In the Class A public boys second round (Sweet 16), fourth-seeded Marion County beat 13th-seeded Chattahoochee County 78-72 at home Wednesday.

The Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) and will play at home 6:30 p.m. Wednesday against fifth-seeded Wilkinson County, which beat 12th-seeded Clinch County 74-51.

This is the farthest the Eagles have advanced in the state playoffs with head coach Willie Williams, in his 12th year at Marion County. They won their region for the first time in 45 years.

In the victory over ChattCo, the Eagles overcame a nine-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Panthers 23-11 in the third quarter and 24-21 in the fourth. They also overcame their roster’s weakened depth.

Junior guard Trice McCannon, the defensive stopper for Marion, was sidelined with an ankle injury. It’s unclear whether he will be able to play in the next game.

And when senior guard/forward Josh Rodgers (11 points) got in foul trouble and sat for the entire second and third quarters, it was time for other Eagles to come through.

Williams figured the team’s first-round bye also made the Eagles a bit sluggish in the first half.

“The adverse things that occurred changed the complexion of the game,” he said. “… We had some soul-searching at halftime, and we came out and played our style of ball.”

That means stickier defense and smoother offense.

Leading the Eagles were freshman shooting guard Markevius Kelley (19 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter), senior wing Akem Slaughter (15 points, including 6 in the third quarter), senior point guard K.D. Mitchell (13 points, including 7 in the fourth quarter), junior center Tyleak Broadway (9 points, team-leading 8 rebounds) and senior center Kentae Thornton (8 points, 7 rebounds).

Marion County girls

In the Class A public girls second round (Sweet 16), fourth-seeded Marion County beat 13th-seeded Emanuel County 75-54 Wednesday at home.

The Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) and will play at home 5 p.m. Wednesday against fifth-seeded Wheeler County, which beat 12th-seeded Dooly County 68-46.

Leading the Eagles in the victory over Emanuel were senior center Ansley Whitley (27 points, 15 rebounds), junior point guard Jameshia Williams (22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) and junior shooting guard Taylor Green (14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals).

“We played a really great game,” said Marion County head coach Fran McPherson. “We prepared well for ECI, and the kids went out and executed what we asked them to do just about to perfection.”

The Eagles reached the state final last year. Greenville won 73-52. So, with three of their five starters and 10 of their roster’s 15 players returning from that team, they are seeking redemption.

“We’re looking to go back and, hopefully, not be the runner-up this time,” McPherson said.

The Eagles are smaller than last year but they are better shooters and more tenacious on defense, she said.

“We’re a little bit different as a team, but we have very good unity, and the kids read each other well,” she said. “They play as a team.”

Calvary Christian boys

In the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association Division I-AA semifinals (Final Four), the Calvary Christian boys will play Lanier Christian 8:30 p.m. Friday at Central Georgia Technical College in Macon. The result wasn’t available before deadline.

The winner will play The King’s Academy or Covenant Academy 7 p.m. Saturday at Tattnall Square Academy, also in Macon.

Leading the Knights in scoring are senior guard/forward Darius Durham (14.8 points per game), senior guard/forward Aaron Christopher (14.4) and senior guard Dominick Jackson (14.3). Durham is the team’s top rebounder (8.8 per game), and Jackson leads in assists (3.9 per game).

Their first-year head coach is 2006 Calvary graduate Kevin Williams, who was a senior point guard 13 years ago on the program’s last team that reached the state semifinals. Calvary lost in the championship game.

‘It is the strangest feeling being in the head role,” said Williams, who was an assistant coach for Calvary from 2008-14. “I do think it gives me a bigger sense of pride considering it is where I played. It is weird working alongside individuals who were once authoritative figures in my life. Considering we are once again in the semifinals, it is bringing back a lot of memories from way back.”

Eliminated

In the GHSA Class AAAAA girls second round (Sweet 16), Region 1 first seed Harris County was upset at home 46-42 Wednesday by Region 2 second seed Wayne County.

In the Class AAAA girls second round (Sweet 16), Region 1 second seed Hardaway lost 61-27 Wednesday at Region 2 first seed and defending champion Spalding.

In the Class AA boys second round (Sweet 16), Region 5 second seed Spencer lost 81-71 Wednesday at Region 6 first seed South Atlanta.

In the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 7A girls quarterfinals (Elite Eight), Central lost 59-44 Tuesday to Auburn in Montgomery.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.

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Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.


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