The Shot Clock with Josh Tec
Happy Monday, my 24-hour party people! If anyone gets that reference, please come find me in a basketball gym, and let’s have a talk.
I’m fairly confident that I differ from many Georgians in the sense that I’m at my happiest in the winter. I love the cold, and I especially love the snow. As I write this preamble, I’m in my office staring out the window at the snow falling and covering my neighbors’ roofs. If I really stretch for it, I can make it feel like I’m looking at snow-covered mountains. With my cup of coffee to my left and some of Saturday’s college games on to my right, I'm in an ideal spot mentally.
Growing up in Louisville, my love for the cold and basketball are synonymous. I’ve trekked through my fair share of snow, ice and frigid temperatures to watch hoops, so spending my day writing about basketball on a snowy day feels right. This is basketball weather to me.
If you’re not out at one of the many—and, man, do I mean many—MLK hoops events around town, I hope you’re staying inside and enjoying this with a nice warm drink in hand.
Best Thing I Saw
The basketball gods blessed me this week. I saw a lot of great performances and games, but for this week’s best thing, I’m going with volume. If I can get a lot of good in one sitting, that’s always a plus. So, the best thing award this week goes to the first half of the Georgia Hardwood Classic hosted by Under Armor and Mays.
Why only the first half? Well, that’s when the best games happened.
Why were they great?
The day started with a back-and-forth overtime game between Langston Hughes and Cumberland Christian. It was the end of this game that I’ll walk away from the Georgia Hardwood Classic remembering the most.
At the end of regulation, Langston Hughes was down four with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Kobe Davis was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. While that was as good as an outcome as the Panthers could have gotten, it was still improbable that they’d be able to tie the game.
However, Davis calmly sank his first two free throws. Then, he missed the third, and Jelani Thurman grabbed the offensive rebound. Still needed at least two points, Thurman went up strong and tied the game at 52 as time expired.
Then, Cumberland Christian’s Elijah Wiseman and Langston Hughes’ Kobe Davis exchanged buckets in OT. Cumberland Christian ultimately had a drop’s worth of gas more in the tank, as they escaped with a 64-62 win.
The next game saw another blow-for-blow game between Collins Hill and Solid Rock in which Collins Hill’s organized-chaos approach allowed them to eek out a 3-point win.
Finally, Osborne kept its undefeated season alive with a resilient come-from-behind win over Sandy Creek. Christian Carroll continues to prove that he’s worthy of college looks. He drove the ship for the Cardinals for much of the way, and Zocko Littleton’s 14 points in the fourth quarter gave them the edge they’d need to leave with a 70-67 win.
Three high-level games in a row decided by a possession each? Yeah, I’ll take it.
As someone who minored in film like a nerd, I decided to dedicate a segment to a movie that I love that’s a rip-off of a movie that I love even more. The Magnificent Seven is a wonderful western rip of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai, and these are seven of the magnificent players I saw this week.
Cormier started the week off with a bang. On a night in which the Eagles were without Kanaan Carlyle, they needed someone to step up in a road game against region rival Etowah. The Northeastern signee did just that with 20 points which included 5 3-pointers. Milton’s region win streak—which spans years at this point—was in danger, but Cormier helped keep it intact with his big night.
Coming down from the mountains bordering North Carolina, the talented Rabun Gap team visited Buford and left with a statement win. In the blowout, Nate Brafford went off for 30 points and reminded everyone why he should be a commodity for colleges looking for senior forwards. A threat from 3-point range, Brafford hit a few shots from deep and drew multiple fouls while shooting from beyond the arc. Brafford’s ability to make plays off the bounce is not to go unnoticed either. Georgia Southern was in to watch Brafford, and he has offers from several others like Mercer and Rhode Island.
Gamory is as vital to this Wheeler team as anyone, and it showed in a close win against rival Kell. Gamory led the team with 18 points and changed the momentum of the game with his ability to hit from deep. With Isaiah Collier’s passing wizardry, Gamory is going to get wide-open looks, and when he’s hitting, Wheeler is going to be hard to top in 6A.
I’ve said that Kami Young should be in the conversation for Player of the Year. He proved me right with back-to-back 20-plus-point games against McEachern and Newton. Young’s averaging over 20 a game on one of the state’s best teams. He’ll be on lists like this for much of the remainder of the season, and he should find himself on several post-season awards lists if voters are wise.
Bailey’s resounding debut weekend raised McEachern’s ceiling this season and going forward. The super sophomore started his season with the Indians by dropping 21 and 9 against Pebblebrook and following it up with 10 and 8 against FSU High while being hampered by foul trouble. Bailey is going to be in the discussion as the best player in his class for the remainder of his high school career. The 6-foot-8 forward is advanced around the basket, athletic, and he plays with a high motor. He can make plays off the bounce, and if he can shoot it, he’ll be a problem with little solutions.
Cumberland Christian has played in a lot of the holiday and weekend events, so I’ve seen them a lot, and Brooks is a guy who’s caught my eye multiple times. On Saturday, at the Georgia Hardwood Classic, he had another one of those performances. Normally, he’s grabbed my attention with his shooting, but he did a little bit of everything in a 23-point performance for the Patriots. He still shot the ball well, but he showed a lot in terms of athleticism and playmaking ability too.
The tough-as-nails, lefty guard helped lead Collins Hill to a great win over Solid Rock with 19 points. McArthur is a solid, reliable shooter, but he’s at his best when he’s attacking the basket. He uses crafty ways to get to the rim and has the toughness to finish in traffic. He also has the motor to thrive in that chaotic Collins Hill defense.
Game of the Week
Pebblebrook at McEachern
What constitutes a great basketball game? It varies from person to person, but here are some of the undeniable cornerstones of a great basketball game, and here’s how this game met those criteria.
I’d say that we’d all agree that atmosphere and stakes factor into making a great game. How about two of Georgia’s best teams—and region rivals—playing in front of a buzzing McEachern crowd? We got that on Friday.
Personally, I favor an uptempo game where teams are exchanging big shot after big shot. If you prefer a Virginia-paced game, I’d suggest therapy. But, hey, to each their own. I’m not here to judge. In this case, I got my wish. Both teams play blazingly fast, and the shots were falling in McEachern’s gym. In an 85-74 win for Pebblebrook, each team had two players finish with 20 or more points, and each had another player in double figures. Needless to say, it was aesthetically pleasing basketball.
Finally, star power plays a role, and they shined bright on Friday night. Pebblebrook’s backcourt has been one of the best in the state all season, and against McEachern, Andre Young and Kami Young combined for 43 points. For McEachern, Mike Jacobs has emerged as one of the driving forces behind their success, and he led the way again with 22 points. This was also the debut of super sophomore Ace Bailey, who had been sidelined with an injury. He announced his arrival with a loud 21 points and 9 rebounds.
Where in the Peach is Josh Tec
Monday, January 17: MLK Extravaganza.
I have plans to bounce around various MLK events in town. I’ll likely be popping in at Holy Innocents, Campbell and Mount Pisgah for some games at each event.
Tuesday, January 18: Sequoyah at Centennial
Centennial is right at the top of my list of teams to see, and this is as good of a time to do so as any. Both teams are going to be tough outs in 6A. Centennial won the last matchup between the two, so Sequoyah will undoubtedly be looking to repay the favor. The Knights sit at 14-2 and 6-1 in region while Sequoyah is 14-4 and 5-2 in region.
Sequoyah’s Kyle Keener and Dylan Wolle have each eclipsed the 1,000 point mark in their careers and make for one of the best backcourts in the state.
Depth is the name of the game for Centennial. The Knights seemingly have a rotating cast of leaders on a game-by-game basis. Seniors Wade Kahl, Abdulh Diaby, Mark Asare and Darrion Galloway have all had tremendous final seasons while junior Mansir Williamson continues to improve his stock.
I can’t wait for this one.
Wednesday, January 19: OPEN
I may pop up at a game on Wednesday, but I’m leaving it open on my schedule for now.
Thursday, January 20: Alexander at East Paulding
Alexander plays at breakneck speed with multiple athletic guards who can whizz in the open court. Sophomore Braedan Lue is a physical forward who’ll make life hard on the East Paulding post players.
Sebastian Tidor is an athletic senior guard who should be getting more looks from college coaches. He’s been leading East Paulding this season, and he’ll provide a problem for any team that the Raiders face.
Alexander won the last matchup between the two team and currently sit a half game behind Rome atop the 5-6A standings while East Paulding is 3-4 in region.
Friday, January 21: Sequoyah at River Ridge
This region is shaping up to be one of the most competitive at the top. River Ridge is currently 7-0 in the region while Sequoyah is 5-2. Of course, those records will change as the week progresses, but this game will be an interesting one regardless.
It’s a battle of River Ridge’s frontcourt duo comprised of Braden Pierce and Jared Russo pitted against Sequoyah’s guards, Dylan Wolle and Kyle Keener.
Georgia Legacy, stand up!
Saturday, January 22: Walker at St. Francis, Lovett at St. Pius, Pace at Galloway.
I think, I THINK that this is a weekend free of the marathon events we’ve gotten a lot of. That means that I’ll be bouncing around as much as I can. I loaded up on a slate of private school games. There’s a good chance that I won’t be able to see all of each game, but the one that I want to make sure I’m at for its entirety is Lovett at St. Pius.
Lovett is the Christian Anderson show, but they’ll have a tough test on their hands with a talented, tough St. Pius team that boasts one of the best home court atmospheres in the state. If there’s one thing I know about St. Pius it’s that they’re going to guard. They play admirably hard on the defensive end.
Thanks for spending some of your time with me. I’ll see you right back here next week!