AAA Boys: #1 Morgan County vs. #1 Jenkins

Photo by Ty Freeman


Region 8, 24-7

Head Coach Jamond Sims has successfully taken over for Charlemagne Gibbons who left to become an assistant coach at Florida Atlantic after he brought home the Bulldogs’ first ever state title. It had been 24 years since Morgan County had appeared in the championship. Sims led Luella to a 20-win season before being recommended by Morgan County School Charter Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett this May. Luck- ily for Sims, the cupboard wasn’t bare as Mississippi State-signee Tookie Brown and forward Jailyn Ingram returned for another year. Brown, a 5-foot-11 scoring dynamo, poured in 36 points to lift the Bulldogs over Buford a year ago. The career 3,000 point scorer scored 32 of his 37 points in the second half to knock off Laney in the semifinals this season, 68-62. Ingram, a 6-foot-7 forward, is a springy athlete that can change games with his rebounding and scoring abilities. Still a junior, Ingram is unsigned but should have offers waiting on the table by the time his senior season rolls around. The Bulldogs have peaked at the right time and are now riding a 10-game winning streak. Morgan County proved that it is hard to beat a team three times as they finally got past Laney in the semifinals. The Wildcats entered its third matchup with the Bulldogs riding a 29-game winning streak while beating Morgan County by four and 16 points. Laney has been the only AAA school to hand the defending champions a loss. A national schedule has prepared the Bulldogs for another deep run in state, finishing 3-3 in games against opposing national powers. With a win, Morgan County would become the first school since 2012 to repeat as champions in AAA. Columbia won three straight titles from 2010-2012.


Region 1, 28-3

The drop from AAAAA to AAA has gone smoothly for the Warriors. Last season, Jenkins was clipped in the semifinals by Miller Grove ending its season with 28 wins. A year later and Jenkins is searching for its elusive 29th win which would mean a state title is heading down to Savannah. A finals appearance this year is the deepest the Warriors have ever gone in March. Head Coach Bakari Bryant has improved each season since taking over in 2012. The Warriors have improved from 19 to 22 to 28 wins and have progressed deeper into the playoffs each year. Georgia State-signee Malik Benlevi is the grizzled vet for Coach Bryant. The 6-foot-6 forward averages over 16 points per game with the ability to score both in and out. Benlevi scored a team-high 28 points to lift the Warriors over Rutland in the semifinals, 77-74. Sophomore forward Trevion Lamar scored with less than 20 seconds left to help Jenkins stave off a comeback bid by Rutland. Lamar finished with 15 points and averages 11.5 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. Senior Eric Johnson also scored 15 points in the semifinal win and is the team’s third leading scorer at 9.5 points per game this sea- son. Jenkins’ only losses this season came to Miller Grove, Laney, and High Point Christian Academy (NC). Like Morgan County, the Warriors’ only AAA loss came to Laney. Wins over ML King, North Cobb Christian, and Meridian (MS) highlight Jenkins’ resume. Before the narrow semifinal win over Rutland, the Warriors had blown past the field in the tournament with an average margin of victory of 31 points. They have now won 19-straight and will look to capture number 20 and in the process bring home the school’s first-ever basketball state title.


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