The Shot Clock with Josh Tec
Happy Monday, my basketball family! I can’t believe we’re already facing the last full week of January.
The realization that we were hitting the home stretch of the regular season dawned on me when I started seeing AAU tryouts make their rounds on Twitter. The travel season is just around the corner.
It feels like I spent so much time waiting for the high school season to get here, and poof, it whizzed by as quickly as it came. I need to make my Macon arrangements soon.
It’s okay, we still have some time left, and region races are starting to really heat up, so we have some of the most fun basketball of the year on the horizon. While I’m excited for it all, time flies far too fast for my liking.
I hope this week’s Shot Clock will help you pass the time in a meaningful way.
Best Thing I Saw
I want to use this space to give McDonough their flowers. I saw them take down Tri-Cities on Monday, and this team is for real. The Warhawks are now 19-1 overall and 9-0 in region. Their only loss has come to Eagles Landing, which is hardly a demarcation of any kind, and they’re facing a very navigable last three games—according to Max Preps. If they only have three games left, it’s very possible that this team can enter the postseason 22-1.
How are they doing it? They have that southside toughness, and they have a stable of guards and wings who all get after it on both ends of the floor. That’s honestly the best descriptor for this team. They just get after it.
Avante Nichols, Demauriye Gasque, and Daavion Thomas make for as good of a trio as you’ll find in 4A.
When I’m in Macon in March, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see the Warhawks hoisting a trophy.
Oh yeah, and the scary thing for 4A is that a lot of this team is comprised of players who’ll be coming back next year.
Bucknell is getting a good one in Josh Fulton. He’s as consistent as a force as there is in Georgia, and his performance against Mount Vernon on Monday was an indicator of that. Fulton finished with 24 points to lead all scorers, and GAC needed every ounce of his production as they narrowly pulled out a 2-point win in OT.
I had a hard time choosing between Cam Johnson and Jaquez Thornton. Thornton dominated the first half, and Johnson did the same in the second. I have to give the edge to Thornton because he was just so impressive in Drew Charter’s first half against Langston Hughes. The lightning-quick guard exploded for 18 points in the first half. He was operating with such speed that it was hard for me to keep up while taking notes. While he slowed down in the second half, he still finished with 21 in a nice win against one of the peskier teams in the state.
AJ Barnes is tough. He’s a guy who plays bigger than he is and always bangs with bigger players in the post and on the boards. One thing I’ve wanted to see out of him was an outside shot. On Monday night, Barnes connected for four 3-pointers en route to a 19-point game, and he looked like the best player on the floor. We know that Barnes brings toughness and athleticism to the game, but if he can keep hitting from deep as he did on Monday, look out.
Sequoyah is entrenched in one of the closest, most fun region battles in the state. Needing a win at Centennial to stay within striking distance of the top spot, the Chiefs needed a big night from their senior stars, and they got just that from Kyle Keener. He led the Chiefs to a win with 24 points and served as a steadying presence in a tough road matchup. Keener has been as reliable as they come this season, and if the Chiefs make a postseason run, he’ll be right at the core of it. Keener’s very much deserving of attention from college coaches looking for a 2022 guard. Dylan Wolle and Fisher Mitchell were also great in Tuesday’s game. Sequoyah is a blast to watch.
Jah’Kim Payne - The 6-foot-6 senior guard went for over 20 points in an Alexander win over East Paulding. Payne did everything for the Cougars on Wednesday night. Scoring, rebounding, steals, leadership, and decision-making were all on display. This was my second time seeing Alexander this season, and Payne has looked like one of the best players on the floor both times. If you’re a college coach looking for a versatile, athletic 2022 guard/wing, I’d recommend checking in with Jah’Kim Payne.
The Georgia College signee opened West Forsyth’s game against South Forsyth on an absolute tear. In the blink of an eye, Mooney amassed 10 points and 7 boards. The 6-foot-7 forward ended his night with a 19 and 10 double-double, a win over a region rival, and he was a homecoming king nominee. That’s not a bad night. Grant Moore, Will Moore and Ethan Underwood all deserve some love from this game too.
St. Pius X picked up a dominant win over Lovett on Saturday evening, and the Golden Lions big man led the way. The 2023 forward finished with 20 points and checked a lot of boxes along the way. At 6-foot-9, Elliott is solid around the basket and has a nice, developing bag of tricks when he gets the ball on the block. Elliott can make a play off the bounce, and he’s good for a couple of 3-pointers per game. With the AAU season on the horizon, I’d expect Elliott to have a lot of coaches lined up to see him.
Game of the Week
This is an easy one this week. The game of the week for me was South Forsyth at West Forsyth on Friday night.
I’m not sure how heated of a rivalry this is within the Forsyth County area, but it sure felt like it was at the top of the list when it comes to that. Maybe it was a mixture of a Friday night crowd that was eager to celebrate homecoming and a region matchup between two solid teams, but the atmosphere was buzzing in the building. The game was great too.
West Forsyth pulled out the win, 51-49, and needed to come from behind in the waning minutes to do so. As noted above, Jake Mooney had it going early for the Wolverines with 10 and 7 at the half. He finished with 19 and 10. Late in the game, it was Grant and Will Moore who stepped up when West Forsyth needed them the most. Whether it was rebounding, making the right pass, or scoring, the brothers were the ones doing it.
Ethan Underwood was phenomenal for South Forsyth. He finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds, and he had stretches where it felt like he was going to carry the team to a win because he wasn’t missing anything. While it looked like he ran out of steam late, he was great.
Also, credit goes to Mark Daly for cooling Ethan Underwood off late.
Truly, it was a tremendous game. Shout out to the Atlanta Timberwolves who had a lot of guys on the floor.
Where in the Peach is Josh Tec
Monday, January 24: OPEN
Tuesday, January 25: Berkmar at Norcross
The last game between these two teams was wildly entertaining. It was a back-and-forth OT thriller that Berkmar narrowly pulled out. That was when London Johnson was playing with the Jamaican national team, so it’ll be interesting to see how his return factors into this one. However, the Blue Devils will be without Aiden Sherrell who played a factor in the first game.
Regardless, it’s not one to be missed.
Wednesday, January 26: OPEN
I will be at a game on either Wednesday or Thursday. I just haven’t determined which day or game I want to hit yet.
Thursday, January 27: OPEN
Friday, January 28: Grayson at Newton
This is another one of those games that we’ve all had circled on our calendars all season. Another battle between two of the state’s power programs. We were robbed of the game between Pebblebrook and Newton last week—well, at least in terms of both teams being at full strength. We’re certainly making up for it this week though.
This is another showcase of Georgia’s talent depth. College-bound talent will be on the floor at all times during this game, D1 talent will be on the floor more often than not, and both teams have players who are either going to high major schools or will eventually be going to high major schools. Needless to say, this isn’t one to miss. Grab your popcorn and enjoy.
Saturday, January 29: 5-Star Classic at Milton
I hope you saved some of that popcorn from the Grayson and Newton game because you’ll need some more of it on Saturday. This might be the best day of basketball in Georgia this season. If not, it’s among the best for certain.
There has been a bit of a lineup change since the original announcement, but I’d argue that the change made the day better. The game of the day for me will be at 6 p.m. when Wheeler takes on Newton. This matchup pits some of 2023’s best guards against each other as Isaiah Collier will go up against Stephon Castle and Jakai Newton. That’s as star-studded as it gets.
Here’s the rest of the day's action:
Noon: Gray Collegiate (SC) vs Hillgrove
1:30: Etowah vs Buford
3: North Gwinnett vs North Mecklenberg (NC)
4:30: Collins Hill vs McEachern
6: Wheeler vs Newton
7:30: Milton vs St. Mary’s (AZ)
Thanks for spending some of your time with me. I’ll see you right back here next week!