Basketball State Title Contenders Langston Hughes and Alexander Meet For Pivotal Region Battle

A top-five matchup and huge region battle between Langston Hughes (10-3) and Alexander (14-2) will tip off tonight at 7:30 PM. Currently in the Score Atlanta Rankings, Alexander sits at No. 1 and Langston Hughes at No. 3. Both teams are currently undefeated in Region 5-6A and are major contenders for a title this season. Alexander is seeking to defend its state championship from 2023 and go back-to-back under head coach Jason Slate. Langston Hughes head coach Rory Welsh went back-to-back with the Panthers in 2017 and 2018 and has developed another contender.

Langston Hughes is led by Brentis Schaeffer who is averaging 18.1 points per game this season and 1.8 steals. Both are best on the team. Schaeffer is good at creating offense and attacking the basket. Once he gets a head of steam, he is hard to stop. Also, he is a good defender that causes havoc with his strong defense and deflections that lead to easy transition buckets.

“Brent is an old-school throwback gym rat. He has a great athletic lineage in his family. His dad was the starting quarterback at the University of Tennessee. He came up in competitive athletics. He really has a burst and has expanded his game to the three-point line since he came in,” said Welsh. “Now, he is shooting threes regularly and at almost 40% this year from there. We knew going into this senior year that Brent was going to have a big-time breakout year. He puts in the time and is a straight-up basketball junkie. He’s never missed a day of anything.”

Alexander started the season strong with an 11-0 start with some signature wins against Wheeler, Tri-Cities, Mount Vernon, Vashon (Missouri), and Norcross.

Alexander is led by Kennesaw State commit Braedan Lue who is averaging 18.8 points per game, 8.6 rebounds, and two blocks per game. Lue is a good finisher around the rim and a dominant force on the boards. He also has a good mid-range game and knows how to get to his sweet spots on the floor. This season, he has seven double-doubles and is a go-to weapon on offense for the Cougars.

The Panthers have a lot of players who are underrated but are having a big impact on the team this season. The youth has been stepping up big and with their transfer from last year Cameron Catholic has been a steady player all season.

“Cameron Catholic is a senior for us and transferred in from a small private school, and hasn’t played a lot of high-end basketball,” said Welsh. “He’s every bit of 6’5 and puts the ball on the floor, shoots standstill threes, creates off the bounce, and is athletic. He has a very diverse skill set at his length. We are going to need more out of him down the stretch.”

“Kendrell Agnew and Addison Dyer are sophomores. Both of them played sub-varsity basketball last year but now have been thrown into the fire because they have earned the right to do so. They have been thriving and playing well for us,” said Welsh. “Kendrell is a strong 6’2 combo guard and can really shoot the three. He can guard ones, twos, and threes. Dyer is our starting point guard and a guy who is slightly ahead of schedule in terms of minutes. I didn’t really anticipate him being this far along this early. He’s been very steady for us and has a bright future ahead of him.”

Alexander probably has one of the deepest rosters in the state. They have players that can fill it up and are capable of going off on any night. Including Lue, the Cougars have four players averaging double figures: Gregory Dunson (12.9 pts), Allen Stoddard (11.2 pts), and Jermaine Freeman (10.9 pts). Perhaps the most impressive is Dunson because he is the second leading scorer on the team as a sophomore and is continuing to improve his game while gaining valuable experience and is a 6A contender.

Despite this being an early region matchup it is very significant because the one seed heading into region tournament time will have the advantage and be able to host the semifinals and finals on their court. The frontcourt matchup will be one to watch with Langston Hughes forwards Xavier Tiller and Jaron LeMelle going against Braedan Lue.

“Right now we are tied for first place in the region. This matchup is awesome. I call it a fair fight. Position for position I feel like we match up well. It starts with the defense. We have to contain Lue, and we can’t allow him to get offensive rebounds, putbacks, or tip dunks,” said Welch. “We have to keep him out of transition and match him step for step and be physical. I think the matchup between their point guard and Addison Dyer is going to be vital in this game. We are going to be aggressive defensively and adjust throughout the rhythm of the game.”

“In our league this year, whichever team wins the regular season region championship on the boys side gets to host the region semifinals and finals in the tournament. I don’t want it to come down to a coin toss, and I definitely don’t want to give it to Alexander. We definitely want to play well on the road.”

Expect a compelling matchup Tuesday night between two state championship contenders in 6A.


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