Two Georgia boys basketball teams have had visions of national titles this season, and Milton
kept the dream alive for both last weekend with its 75-69 victory over No. 1-ranked Oak Hill Academy of Virginia.
Milton, which had been ranked No. 11 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 boys basketball rankings
presented by the Army National Guard and is now No. 7, is 13-2 with losses to Miller Grove and the presumptive new No. 1 team, St. Patrick of New Jersey.
The loss to St. Patrick, 69-67, came on a 3-point shot in the final seconds Dec. 22 in the championship round of the City of Palms tournament in Fort Myers, Fla.Miller Grove (Lithonia)
, Georgia's two-time defending champion in Class AAAA, is 13-0 and ranked No. 2 in the Xcellent 25.
Milton coach David Boyd and Miller Grove's Sharman White have become fans of each others' teams.
‘'I think that obviously Miller Grove right now has the best chance of finishing on top,'' Boyd said. "Coach White and I have been text-messaging each other and e-mailing, pushing the other one and congratulating. We've really been supportive of each other this year. It all goes hand in hand, the pride you have in your team representing the state.''
White agreed. He admitted rooting for Milton and keeping an eye on the national rankings.
‘'I'd be lying if I say it's something we don't pay attention to,'' said White, whose team defeated Thurgood Marshall of Dayton 80-60 on Monday. ‘'It's great for us in the state to have teams go out of state and win. We check on each other and keep each other in the loop.''
Milton's victory over Oak Hill in Springfield, Mass., on Saturday was perhaps a surprise considering that Milton hadn't practiced as a team in more than a week due to a snowstorm that closed schools for five days in most of north Georgia.
Boyd believes the difference was Milton's guard play and being able to withstand Oak Hill's famous full-court pressure. Milton jumped to a 20-point lead in the first half. Oak Hill rallied and led 51-50 in the second, but Milton went on an 8-0 run to retake command.
Milton guards Dai-Jon Parker
(committed to Vanderbilt), Shannon Scott
(Ohio State) and Jordan Loyd
(Furman) make up what's generally considered the state's best backcourt this season, if not all-time in Georgia.
Loyd, often the forgotten starter on a team that also has center Julian Royal
(Georgia Tech) and forward Evan Nolte
(recruited by several ACC and SEC schools), had 10 points, nine rebounds, four steals, four assists and two blocked shots.
‘'I noticed in some of [Oak Hill's] other games that they jump on people and intimidate them, so we wanted to be real aggressive against their attacking defense,'' Boyd said. "They like to trap and press and get you in a hurry, and that's where our guard play was really sharp.''
Milton and Miller Grove are finished with out-of-state travel, meaning the most impressive thing they can do now is defend their state titles. Both are ranked No. 1 in every Georgia poll, Milton in AAAAA, Miller Grove in AAAA.
"All we're trying to do is win our last seven,'' said Boyd, meaning two wins in the region tournament and five at state. "Everything else will have to take care of itself.''MARRIOTT INVITATIONAL IS NEXT FOR MILTON, MILLER GROVE
Milton and Miller Grove will be playing Saturday in the Marriott Invitational at nearby Norcross. The event has drawn out-of-state teams Sagamont Academy and Dr. Krop of Florida, Rainier Beach of Washington and Sumter of South Carolina. Here is the schedule:Friday
5:30 p.m.: Meadowcreek (Norcross)
vs. Sagemont (Weston, Fla.)
7 p.m.: Mill Creek (Hoschton)
vs. Dr. Krop (Miami)
8:30 p.m.: Walton (Marietta)
vs. Rainier Beach (Seattle)Saturday
4 p.m.: Miller Grove vs. Dr. Krop, Fla.
5:30 p.m.: Greater Atlanta Christian (Norcross)
vs. Sagemont (Fla.)
7 p.m.: Norcross
vs. Sumter (S.C.)
8:30 p.m.: Milton vs. Rainier BeachNORCROSS, HOOVER GIRLS TO PLAY IN BATTLE OF CHAMPIONS
Defending state champions in Georgia and Alabama will play Saturday at Starr's Mill in Fayetteville in an event called Girls Night Out. The five-game schedule also includes a matchup between Southwest DeKalb and Brookwood, two Top 10 teams in Georgia. Norcross, led by sophomore Diamond DeShields
, is 13-1 and won Georgia's Class AAAAA last season. Hoover is 20-2 and won Alabama's Class 6A last season. They have a common opponent in Wesleyan, which is located across the street from Norcross High. Norcross beat Wesleyan 58-57. Wesleyan beat Hoover 47-46.Saturday
Noon: East Coweta (Sharpsburg)
vs. Northgate (Newnan)
1:30 p.m.: Woodward Academy (College Park)
vs. McIntosh (Peachtree City)
3 p.m.: Starr's Mill (Fayetteville)
vs. Habersham Central (Mt. Airy)
4:40 p.m.: Southwest DeKalb (Decatur)
vs. Brookwood (Snellville)
6:10 p.m.: Norcross
vs. Hoover (Ala.)BRIEFLY
Several Georgia teams played out-of-state opponents last week, and the results generally were good. The Buford
girls defeated Oak Hill Academy 49-45 in the Battle of the Southeast at Wesleyan. Kaela Davis
, a sophomore who has committed to Tennessee, had 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals. The Wesleyan (Norcross)
girls, Georgia's Class A champions, beat Oak Ridge Military Academy 63-59 in the same event. Grace Leah Baughn
scored 17 points for Wesleyan (14-2). …
The Columbia (Decatur)
boys, ranked No. 1 in Georgia's Class AAA, won two of three games in the Alaska Airlines Classic in Anchorage. They lost to eventual champion Christian Life Academy of Humbolt, Texas, 81-70 in a semifinal game between teams that hold national rankings. In the third-place game, Columbia jumped to a 23-4 lead in the first quarter and beat Princeton Day of Maryland 75-57. …Wheeler (Marietta)
(10-4), ranked No. 2 behind Milton in AAAAA in three Georgia polls, was beaten by Northmont of Ohio 62-60 in Dayton on Monday. Northmont's Jordan Taylor scored a shot at the buzzer for the win. ...
Greater Atlanta Christian's boys, Georgia's AA champion last season, won one of three games at the Bass Pro tournament of Champions in Missouri. Malcolm Brogdon
, who is committed to Virginia, scored 30 points in the 68-57 victory over Parkview of Springfield, Mo., in the seventh-place game and averaged 31.7 points in the tournament. GAC lost to La Verne Lutheran of California 74-61 and to Douglass of Oklahoma City 60-48.