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Athlete of the Week: Johnson's Montrell McKenzie
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Honor roll


Devonte Anderson, Lumpkin County: 23 points in a 81-73 loss to Chestatee.

Dylan Boonstra, North Georgia Christian: 22 points and eight rebounds in a 67-53 win over The Campus.

Shaquan Cantrell, Gainesville: 22 points, five rebounds and four assists in an 81-59 win over Monroe Area.

Sydney Cleveland, North Hall: 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 70-47 win over Stephens County.

Trey Collins, North Georgia Christian: 20 points and six rebounds in a 63-23 win over Grace Baptist; 12 points and 11 rebounds in a 67-53 win over The Campus.

Kaela Davis, Buford: 23 points in a 58-44 win over Lovett.

Brian Edwards, East Hall: 22 points in a 92-69 win over Rabun County.

J.C. Hampton, East Hall: Averaged 25 points scored in three games last week.

Matt Hollis, Johnson: Averaged more than 23 points scored in three games last week.

Angie Hughes, Union County: 20 points and 14 rebounds in a 60-51 win over Banks County.

Morgan Jackson, East Hall: 20 points in a 56-45 win over Rabun County.

Rebecka Merritt, Union County: 21 points and 12 rebounds in a 60-51 win over Banks County.

Cole Morgan, Chestatee: 26 points in a 81-73 win over Lumpkin County.

Austin Pearson, Lakeview Academy: Averaged more than 20 points scored in three games last week.

T.J. Shipes, Buford: 22 points in a 64-52 win over Lovett.

Ebo Smith, North Hall: Averaged 24 points scored in two games last week.

A.J. Stephens, West Hall: 21 points in a 73-72 win over Johnson.

Jamaad Stephens, Flowery Branch: 20 points in a 48-42 win over Winder-Barrow and 18 in a 56-54 win over Clarke Central.

Austin Thompson, Jefferson: 26 points in a 52-31 win over Oglethorpe County.

Rebecca Webster, Gainesville: Averaged 22 points scored in a pair of wins last week.


Zack Miller-Hogg, Flowery Branch: Part of first-place 200-yard freestyle relay team, second-place 400 relay team and had a second place individual finish in the 100 freestyle and third in the 100 backstroke on Saturday at the North Georgia Regionals in Dalton.

Morgan Ryder, Flowery Branch: Won two individual races (200-yard individual medley and 500 freestyle) at the Hall County Championships on Friday and was part of the Lady Falcons’ four-person winning 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay teams.

Colin Monaghan, Gainesville: Won the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke at the Hall County Championships on Friday.

Andy Doan, Gainesville: Won the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke at the Hall County Championships on Friday.

Tristan Taylor, Chestatee: Won the 500 freestyle and the 200 freestyle, and was part of a second-place relay squad in the 200 medley relay at the Hall County Championships on Friday.

Alayna Saxon, North Hall: Won the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke at the Hall County Championships on Friday.


Tyler Kratzer, North Hall: Finished first overall in the 138-pound class at the North Metro Classic on Saturday at Brookwood High.

When senior Matt Hollis, Johnson’s leading scorer, went down with a meniscus tear during the Lanierland tournament in December, coach Jeff Steele retooled the offense.

In the middle he put junior Montrell McKenzie, a 6-foot-6 center who had hardly played in his junior season and hadn’t been able to play in the scrimmage games and camps last summer or in the preseason as he recovered from a broken arm.

“He didn’t play at all until our first game against Winder,” Steele said. “Just now he’s starting to get into good physical basketball condition.”

Now Hollis is back, and is once again scoring in bunches. But McKenzie remains a key piece for the Knights (10-11, 2-6 8-AAA South), averaging 11 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game through the first 21 games of the season.

“We changed what we were doing when (Hollis) went out,” Steele said. “To simplify things we put Montrell under the basket, and it’s worked out.”

Last week not only did McKenzie record a pair of triple-doubles, he averaged 18.6 points, 13.6 rebounds and 10 blocks per game in wins over Lanier and Oconee County and a one-point loss to West Hall on Saturday. For his performance, he is The Times Athlete of the Week.

“His overall game’s improving, he’s getting more and more comfortable with the games he plays,” Steele said. “It’s always a work in progress, but he’s learning the feel of the defenders.

“Overall we’re pretty pleased.”

One of the things Steele likes most about how McKenzie plays on offense has been his ability to read the defense and pass out to a shooter if he doesn’t have a good shot.

If he does have a shot, his size and athleticism makes him a tough match-up for almost any forward in the area. It doesn’t hurt that he grew two inches from his sophomore season.

“It’s not hard to score anymore like it was last year,” McKenzie said. “The better you get, the harder you are to defend.”

And McKenzie just keeps getting better.

“There’s not one negative thing I can say about his progression,” said Steele, who is still trying to get his players to get the ball to McKenzie more often as the junior continues to show improvement.

Of course, McKenzie has other ways to get his hands on the ball, whether it gets passed to him or not.

He’s already set the school record for rebounds in a game this season with 32 in a loss to Walnut Grove, and he is regarded as one of the area’s top shot blockers.

Now he’s trying to help get his team on track for a strong finish. Despite having all the pieces to play with anybody, according to Steele, the Knights have continued to play hot-and-cold basketball and are in the bottom half of the subregion.

“We’re taking too many shots that we could have any time, instead of working for the better shot,” the coach said.

The Knights have had flashes of brilliance working in the revamped offense centered around McKenzie, but have yet to put it all together.

Still, with four games remaining against subregion opponents, there’s time to make some noise.

“If we don’t take quick shots, don’t let other teams speed us up and play at our pace, then we can be pretty good,” McKenzie said.

It almost came together Saturday, but Johnson fell behind and, as Steele put it, “looked for the 10-point shot.”

McKenzie put in yet another great performance, however, with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks. It was a testament to his improvement on offense that he scored more than double his season average.

It’s also no surprise, with the numbers that he’s putting up, that colleges are noticing.

“We’re already getting calls,” Steele said. “You can’t put up those numbers and not have people be interested.”

Right now it’s mostly smaller schools, but McKenzie has his sights set on possibly reaching the top level.

“I want to be D-I by the end of my senior year,” he said. “But I need to get stronger and a little bit taller, and perform more on offense.”

McKenzie is working on getting stronger, he’s developing his offensive arsenal (including his favorite, the up-and-under) and Steele said that he already boasts the wingspan of a 6-8 or 6-9 player.

With how far McKenzie has come just since last season, a little more improvement would only be natural.

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