It was about a month ago that our sports editor, Brent Holloway, wrote a blog on our Web site calling mid-October the most wonderful time of the year.
His reason for calling it such was the, "absolute sports overload," with the MLB season wrapping up, the heart of the college football season in swing, the NFL shaping up, prep softball and volleyball seasons ending and so on and so forth.
For me, however, the most wonderful time of the year (it’s OK if you are humming the song, I am, too) began with the tip-off of basketball season just before Thanksgiving and will end with March Madness.
The squeak of size 10, or 12, Nikes — or Adidas — the engulfing warmth of a gym after a long walk from the parking lot, the smell of fresh popcorn and the heart-pumping music being played as a team does layup drills during warmups.
I love it more than my luggage!
I have yet to see an area prep game, which isn’t saying a lot considering most teams have only played two or three games in various Thanksgiving tournaments, but I have my ideas as to who will do what this upcoming season.
Oh, and as a side note here I must mention my favorite Thanksgiving tournament name from 2007, in a landslide win, "Papa Jack’s Country Kitchen Thanksgiving Hoopfest," held at Flowery Branch High. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Now, to area high school hoops.
I fear retribution from what I am about to say but, so be it, it needs to be gotten out of the way. The addition of Jaymee Carnes to any roster enhances a team’s chances of winning tenfold and, that said, the Lady Red Elephants will compete for yet another region title because she is playing for them.
Don’t get me wrong, Gainesville is a force regardless because it has Manson Hill teaching fundamental basketball and roaming the sidelines, but come on people, she’s good.
I mean, sans 18 second-half turnovers Gainesville more than likely beats Class AAAA No. 1-ranked Marist this past weekend. As it was, the Red Elephants still only lost by eight.
Standing in their way for region supremacy, though, will be 6-foot-3 South Carolina signee Sada Wheeler and 6-2 Tierra Benton, along with 5-11 sharpshooter Jessica Blackwell. It seems from their 3-0 start that the Lady Vikings have taken to new coach Joey Rider’s up-tempo style of play and that Wheeler has taken to her role as team leader scoring 27 points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking five shots in the Class AAA No. 1-ranked East Hall’s win over Class AAAAA Centennial.
North Hall is a contender as well. Letiecia Davenport is no slouch and Elizabeth Williams would probably throw herself under a bus if it meant winning. The Lady Trojans will challenge both Gainesville and East Hall and beat one or the other or both at some point in the season.
In other area schools, Class A better watch out for Jefferson. The No. 9-ranked Lady Dragons beat Class AAAA’s Habersham Central by 40 points Saturday night ... 40 points! Keep an ear out for junior MiMi DuBose and go see her play if you get a chance, she’s a special one.
The parity on the boys side of Region 7-AAA has increased greatly from a year ago.
Yes, East Hall lost the great Walter Hill but the Vikings will — as long as the excitable Joe Dix is at the helm — be the Vikings. And as long as Ken Wise steps up and Trevor Bishop hits another 80 three pointers, East Hall will be just fine and sitting pretty atop the region at season’s end.
Lest we forget senior point guard Dedric Ware who, according to his coach, will exceed expectations with his play this year.
Let’s be honest, they breed ’em under the basket in Valhalla and the kids show up to the high school ready to play and contribute.They don’t have rebuilding years, so much as they have reinforcements waiting.
Other than East Hall, 7-AAA teams need to guard themselves against the likes of the Chestatee and North Hall.
Tennessee State signee and Chestatee shooting guard Parker Smith is no joke. And the Trojans, playing their second year under Benjie Wood, will be even more fundamentally sound, and will still be good shooters who play with heart and make few mistakes.
The War Eagles and Trojans will give the Vikings a run for their money, at least in the first half.
Some may be wondering why Gainesville hasn’t been mentioned and it’s because they just won’t be great this year. They will make a game of it against East Hall, but only because of the adrenaline that comes with a standing room only game atmosphere, but don’t look for them to do much more.
This week’s column ends with the following information: Percy Romeo Miller Jr., also known as rapper Lil’ Romeo and the son of famed rapper Master P, signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Southern Cal. I wonder if he and O.J. Mayo will be roomies?