South Atlanta off to strong start with fresh faces

The South Atlanta boys have three players back from their state-championship team from a year ago.
For many programs, this would prompt assumptions that they’re rebuilding. South Atlanta coach Michael Reddick isn’t going there.

“We never look at it as rebuilding,” said Reddick, in his 20th season coaching and feels the Hornets should be in contention for state titles. They’ve won two in his tenure..” We work extremely hard and hopefully it pays off. We’re going to have high expectations.”

The early returns appear favorable. Behind guards Jalen Stegall and Dondre Barnes, South Atlanta has won two of its three games, beating Class AAAAAA Drew Charter and Class AAAAAAA Westlake. The one loss was to Class AAAAAAA Lambert.

The win over Westlake might be the most encouraging. Trailing 62-51 going into the fourth quarter, the Hornets sprinted to the finish to claim a 74-70 win.

For his part, Reddick is reserving judgement.

“Where we fall, I have no idea right now. I’ve never had a team this young,” Reddick said, noting that the Hornets have six sophomores on their 12-man roster. “I’m encouraged with the possibilities with what we have. The season really starts now. We’ll be playing Tuesday and Friday most weeks now and we won’t have as much time to get practice in.”

Reddick said Stegall and Barnes have provided leadership for their younger teammates.

“This team will have their personality with it. They have to play at a high level for us to be successful and get everyone used to playing at varsity speed,” Reddick said.

South Atlanta opens Region 6-AA play on Tuesday at home against Hapeville Charter.

Upson-Lee streak intact: Defending Class AAAA champion Upson-Lee opened its season 4-0, extending its winning streak to 36; the Knights went 32-0 last season. So far, though, coach Darrell Lockhart said the team hasn’t been as consistent as he would like.

“We talk about the winning streak but we really don’t focus on that,” Lockhart said. “Sooner or later it’s going to be broken.”

Senior guard Tye Fagan, a Middle Tennessee signee, has put up big numbers so far, Lockhart said.

How long will the streak continue? Well, Lockhart anticipates a more difficult non-region schedule this time around, with the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Florida, Dec. 18-23 and the Lake City Classic at Allatoona Dec. 27-30.

“We’re going to be challenged this year,” Lockhart said. “I think it’s necessary to play those tough teams to really see where we’re at.”

Players off to fast starts: Lakeside-Evans guard Kalen Evans is averaging 32 points per game through the Panthers’ first four games, making him the top-scoring Georgia player listed in Maxpreps’ statistics.

Bradwell Institute’s Jasmine Blevins is scoring at a 26-point pace, the top scorer listed among Georgia girls.

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