Prep writer Jeff Sentell ranks the top five teams across the area at this point of the season.
No. 1. Greenbrier (19-0) Perfect despite losing all-state guard for a month to injury.
No. 2. North Augusta (16-2) Strong senior group; beat Hephzibah.
No. 3. Hephzibah (15-3) Perennial power is in a transition year.
No. 4. Laney (12-1) Lost 75-51 to Hephzibah.
No. 5. Screven Co. (14-3) Lost 48-44 to Laney.
No. 1. Aiken (17-1) Many reasons. Talent. Poise. Experience. Intensity.
No. 2. Swainsboro (12-2) Recent Josey loss came with star point guard on suspension.
No. 3. Burke County (14-2) Work in progress, but Bears have size and give good effort.
No. 4. Washington Co. (13-5) Strong guard play and fun to watch.
No. 5. Glenn Hills (14-3) Hasn't found top form yet.
Top girls games this weekend:
1. Irmo at North Augusta, 6:30 tonight
2. Aiken at South Aiken, 6 tonight
3. Glenn Hills at Hephzibah, 5 Saturday
Top boys games this weekend:
1. Aiken at South Aiken, 8 tonight
2. Swainsboro at Jefferson County, 8:30 tonight
3. Glenn Hills at Hephzibah, 6:30 Saturday
WHO: Devonda Lewis
SCHOOL: Burke County
POSITION: Small forward
WHY?: He grabbed hold of a sinking effort at Greenbrier and willed his team to a win with clutch baskets on the road. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter of a hard-fought win at Jenkins County. Lewis sank every one of his 10 free throw attempts in that final quarter. He has topped the 20-point mark in each of his past three games.
MEET A COACH
Laney Lady Wildcats
TOTAL YEARS COACHING: 27
YEARS WITH THIS TEAM: 24
REGION TITLES: 17
MARRIED: Yes (Viola Smart)
CHILDREN: Otis Smart III, Michael Smart, Jason Smart
HIS VARSITY PLAYING CAREER: He led his team in rebounds
FAVORITE ALL-TIME PLAYER: (Tied) Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson
FAVORITE ALL-TIME COACH: Dean Smith
FAVORITE ALL-TIME TEAM: 1982 North Carolina Tar Heels
FIRST WIN VERSUS: Orangeburg-Wilkinson (S.C.)
FAVORITE MEAL: T-bone steak and potatoes
FAVORITE SONG: Let's Stay Together by Al Green
RESUME STUFF: Owns a career record of 540-133
BIG REGRET: No state titles yet
FAVORITE OFFENSE: Flex
FAVORITE DEFENSE: Matchup zone
COACHING INSPIRATIONS: Phil Jackson, Pat Riley
FAVORITE MOVIE: Harlem Nights
WHY?: "I loved that movie. Loved that part where that big lady gets her toe shot off."
THIS WEEK'S LIST
The area basketball teams with the best chances of winning a state title later this year in their classification.
1. Aiken (boys)
2. North Augusta (girls)
3. Swainsboro (boys)
4. Greenbrier (girls)
5. Laney (girls)
WEIRD STAT OF THE WEEK
Richmond Academy's Loce Hill and Jacob Sullivan have each scored 243 points and dished out 68 assists through 14 games for the Musketeers this year.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"This is the best team I have ever had. That's including a state championship team and a state runner-up team. It's because this is such a deep team and the things these boys can do. We're 10 deep. And some nights the kids just do some things I can't coach. Sometimes I find myself just watching them on the floor as a fan and have to remind myself to stop enjoying the show and start coaching them up again." - Swainsboro coach Leroy Jordan
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Alleluia Community School
Guard, 5-11/160, Senior
HIS WEEK'S WORK: Cosper has averaged 32.3 points and three steals per game over his past three games. It's not as much the numbers as what he's come through with while his squad has been riddled with injuries. He scored 37 and 33 points in back-to-back games last Friday and Saturday. He's had to take a lot of big shots while teammate Joe Veihman has been out with an injured shooting hand. Veihman is averaging 25 points per game this year.
BIG PICTURE: Cosper is averaging 23 points per game and has made 86 3-pointers so far this season. That total is third in the nation among reported totals across America on the prep sports site www.maxpreps.com
Point guard, 5-6/130, Junior
HER WEEK'S WORK: Lyons scored 69 points over her past three games. That includes a career-best 32 points and five assists against Washington County. She went 12-for-14 from the line down the stretch that night. She scored 17 points against Cross Creek and 19 points against Butler in leading her team to a 3-0 record.
BIG PICTURE: Glenn Hills coach Bernard Bowman credits her leadership ability this year. She wants to lead her team in every practice sprint. Lyons excels at getting to the basket and is shooting 80 percent from the foul line. She has started at Glenn Hills since her freshman year.
WORTH THE GAS
SWAINSBORO AT JEFFERSON COUNTY,
8 P.M. SATURDAY
GO CHECK OUT: The big bodies going up and down the floor Saturday night in Louisville. Swainsboro has junior Cecil Bent. He's a 6-foot-7 center who tips the scales at 296 pounds. He just recently was cleared to play after a troublesome health condition. He will no doubt bang around in the paint with 6-foot-4 A.J. Harmon of Jefferson County. Harmon tips the scales at 320 pounds.
FROM THE NOTEBOOK
"Well, if I had to pick a time for this to happen this would be it. We don't start region play until January. If there's a time of the season to try and weather this kind of storm, this would have been the time I'd have picked out. Maybe we can keep this thing going and keep our heads above water until then." - Greenbrier coach Garrett Black said that on Dec. 12 after learning all-state guard Michelle Swiec would be sidelined with a knee injury. Swiec missed seven games, but the Lady Wolfpack endured the setback without missing a beat and are still unbeaten after 19 games.