DeKalb County is the place to be this week for the best in Class AAAAA basketball. A showdown looms in the boys and girls competition that involves top-10 teams.
On Friday night, Arabia Mountain travels to Southwest DeKalb in a game between two state-ranked girls team. On Saturday night, Miller Grove is at Columbia in a game between two state-ranked boys teams.
No. 10 Arabia Mountain (11-1) has won two straight games since losing for the first time this season, falling to Spalding in the Sweet South Classic. No. 4 Southwest DeKalb, the defending state champion, is off to a 12-4 start and went 2-1 in the BalIn Prep Classic in Birmingham. The Region 5 rivals each bring a perfect 5-0 record into the game. They won’t play again until the season finale.
No. 9 Columbia (9-5, 2-2) won three out of four games at the Tournament of Champions at Wheeler, including a two-overtime win against St. Francis. Kenton Eskridge averages 18 points for the Eagles. Defending state champion Miller Grove (9-6, 4-0) has played a national schedule to start the season. Naquante Hardy is averaging 20.1 points for the Wolverines. The two teams have a rematch for Jan. 27.
Other good boys games this weekend includes:
Eagle’s Landing at Woodland: The No. 4 Eagles (10-2) feature a balanced attack led by Brandon Thomas (13 points) and big man Mohammed Abubakkar (11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds). Woodland is 8-4 under first-year coach James Martin, who continues to stress defense – just like he did during successful stops at Cedar Grove and Griffin. Jaylyn Clark averages 15.1 points to lead the Wolfpack.
Riverwood at Lithia Springs: These are the days of Elijah at Riverwood (12-3), where the Raiders are led by Elijan Jenkins (18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Elijah Dudley (15 points). Lithia (10-3) won its last two games in the Toyota Classic and would move into a first-place tie in Region 6 with a win.
Union Grove at Woodland: The No 10 Wolverines visit Woodland, making it a challenging weekend for the Wolfpack. Wesley Simpson (12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Austin Atkins (11.3 points) lead Union Grove (11-4).
Other good girls games this weekend includes:
Jackson at Decatur: No. 6 Jackson (12-1) and Decatur (9-5) are undefeated and tied for first in Region 6. Jackson swept through three games at the Antebellum Holiday Tournament in Milledgeville after losing to Southwest DeKalb in the final of the Peach State Tournament. Taylor Jones (19.5 points) leads Decatur, which hasn’t played since losing to Centennial in the final of the Westminster Holiday Classic.
Rome at Carrollton: First place in Region 7 will be at state when No. 7 Carrollton (12-1, 4-0) hosts Rome (10-1, 4-0). Carrollton opened the new year with an easy win over Hiram; the Trojans finished second over the break in the Carolina Invitational Championship. Rome returned from a two-week layoff by beating Kell on Wednesday.
Harris County at Warner Robins: No. 2 Warner Robins (13-0) will likely find its first really challenge since needing overtime to win a couple of non-conference games. Kezia Holmes averages 16.3 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Demons. No. 9 Harris County (10-2) won two of three games at the CresCom Holiday Tournament in Myrtle Beach with sophomore Taziha Fanning (21.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and Jessika Carter (16.6 points, 14.0) rebounds leading the way.
Rome at Villa Rica: The Wolfpack has a challenging weekend with games against two state-ranked opponents. No. 8 Villa Rica (12-1) lost its only game to Carrollton on Dec. 13. Deasia Merrill averages 21.5 points and 10.1 rebounds for the Wildcats.