Two ranked boys teams hitting late-season strides

basketball-941996_1280Two top-ranked teams avenged early season losses to rivals this week and will look to carry that momentum into the weekend.

No. 2 Westside-Macon (14-3) lost to No. 5 Central-Macon 79-74 Dec. 9 and had been itching for the chance for the Jan. 17 rematch. The wait was worth it. The Seminoles won 60-55 and handed Central its fourth loss of the season. Junior small forward Khavon Moore (6-foot-8) led the way with 17 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.

“It was a typical Westside vs. Central game, back and forth,” said Westside coach Josh Grube. “Big crowd, electric crowd. We got off to a bit of a slow start, but we settled in and chipped away at the lead. … Anytime you beat your crosstown rival, it is a good win.”

Looking toward the final stretch of the regular season, Grube said his team can improve.

“We still feel like we have not played up to our capabilities this season,” he said. “We have some guys who are not playing to their best abilities right now. We aren’t shooting it as well as we can right now. We still have to get better rebounding. We don’t feel like we have played our best basketball. So that is encouraging, looking toward the region and state tournaments.”

The same could be said for sixth-ranked Liberty County.

Liberty, the defending Class AAA champions, lost to Long County 73-72 Dec. 9 with 6-2 senior guard and Auburn commitment Davion Mitchell sidelined with an injury. Fast-forward a month, add Mitchell into the fray and the Panthers were out for revenge. They found it.

The Panthers, who are in the top 25 nationally in scoring, defeated Long County 121-81 Tuesday to take the lead in Region 2. Will Richardson, a 6-4 junior, is ranked 11th nationally in scoring according to Maxpreps.com, and he did not disappoint with a 38-point performance.

“The guys had a chip on their shoulder for this one,” said Liberty coach Julian Stokes. “That was an accomplishment, a big win for them. We are probably the best two teams in our regions and with it being a local rivalry, that was big.”

Richardson is scoring 31.6 points per game and is the only player from Georgia in the top 15 nationally. Mitchell is averaging 23.1 points.

Girls

— No. 1 Johnson-Savannah (17-1)  is looking to build on its five-game winning streak when it plays Southeast Bulloch on Friday.

— No. 2 Beach (16-1) has won eight consecutive games and plays Groves on Friday.

— No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian (11-5) will face Union County Friday after defeating Dawson County 63-34 earlier this week.

— No. 4 Franklin County (15-4) faces Morgan County Friday after defeating East Jackson 77-40 this week.

— The last loss for No. 5 Calhoun (16-3) came Dec. 17 against Pepperell (43-42). The Lady Yellow Jackets will face Haralson County Friday.


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