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Davis: Early in the season, not much is clear

POSTED: December 20, 2009 11:56 p.m.
It’s early in the morning, early in the basketball season and I’ve still got football on the brain.

Back in July, heck back in January, it was somewhat clear as to which teams would rule the gridiron.

Gainesville had a ton of talent coming back, Flowery Branch had been there before and had Connor Shaw coming back, and North Hall is North Hall.

Were there surprises, sure.

Jackson County started out 3-0, Buford lost a game, Flowery Branch — with no run defense — made it to the state semifinals again by beating teams that ran the ball really well, and there wasn’t a minute of the Class AAA state title game that wasn’t surprising.

All in all, however, it was clear which teams would rule the gridiron and for the most part they did.

Early in the season, the same can’t be said for basketball.

This season is, in essence, a blank slate.

When last year ended after the Gainesville boys’ state semifinal loss and the Buford girls’ state title, there was a collective shrug.

This season started with no preconceived notions, and with the way it’s played out thus far, that shrug might be the only intelligent answer to the question of who will win.

Is there parity, yes, but it’s more a result of inconsistency than anything else.

Individuals have been consistent: Gainesville’s Jaymee Carnes has double-doubled nearly everyone and Flowery Branch’s Ishmael Hollis has stepped up his game to region player of the year-type status.

He not only dunks, but rebounds, reverses, shoots jumpers and with a soft touch, makes free throws.

West Hall’s Jarquise Young — the little baller that could — is breaking ankles, shooting 3-pointers and scooping layups over, around and past guys twice his size.

Chestatee’s Peyton Robertson is doing exactly what she’s supposed to do, scoring in the 20s every game while grabbing countless rebounds.

The problem is, however, basketball, while at times dominated by the performance of an individual, isn’t an individual game.

And therein lies the inconsistency and need for a shrug.

Take the North Hall girls for example. The Lady Trojans played stifling defense and ran the motion offense to perfection in a win against then No. 2-ranked Gainesville and then turned around the next Tuesday and were down 10 at home to Pickens heading into the fourth quarter.

Did they win, yes, but they were inconsistent on the way to it.

Consider this: North Hall had 29 points with four minutes remaining in the first half versus Gainesville and that same amount through three quarters versus Pickens.

The Chestatee girls played Class AAAAA Woodstock to a four-point game and Class AAAA Cedar Shoals to a five-point game yet were beaten by 11 when playing East Hall.

That’s not a knock on the Lady Vikings, they’re quietly having themselves a good season, but East Hall isn’t AAAA and it sure isn’t AAAAA. In fact, East Hall is already a AA team that has to finish a AAA year.

And for every girls’ inconsistency, there’s a boys’.

West Hall put up 70 points in a win against Class AAAAA’s Greenbrier, yet doesn’t hit for 40 against North Hall?

Again, not a knock on the Trojans, those boys can play some in-your-face-without-fouling defense, and Benjie Wood is a college-caliber coach in a high school setting. But the Spartans are athletic and have two of the top players in the area in Shunquez Stephens and Young and couldn’t score more than 39 points?

Speaking of North Hall, as further evidence of the inconsistency running rampant; after holding Johnson, West Hall and East Hall — all athletically gifted teams — to an average of 49 points in three straight wins, the Trojans lost to Pickens in overtime.

The Dragons are undefeated and probably having their best season ever, but they came into that game averaging 57 points per game, yet scored 72 on a Trojans team known for suffocating teams on the defensive end.

Shrug.

Teenagers will be teenagers, and teams have bad games; we all know those two things to be true. But there is an overall inconsistency in the area this year and that hasn’t been the case in recent years.

The only exception, for boys and girls, is the top-ranked Lady Wolves of Buford.

Sophomore Andraya Carter — if you haven’t seen her play, you should because she’s the best thing to come through here since Tasha Humphrey — is averaging 22 points per game. The only other returning starter on the team — heck the only other returning player if you want to get right down to it — Alysha Rudnik, is averaging over 12 per game.

Those two have Buford undefeated through four games.The Lady Wolves have beaten three AAA teams and AA Avondale, which they held to just 18 points, by an average of 28 points.

They’re dominating, they’re good and they’re consistent about it.

Will the state of things this year make for some great, down-to-the-wire games? Probably, parity is parity regardless of why teams are evenly matched, and I’m looking forward to it.

Every blank slate ends up written on. Who’ll do the writing?

Shrug. Who knows.

Katie B. Davis is a sports reporter for The Times. Contact her at kdavis@gainesvilletimes.com


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