First Savannah Hoops Shootout could be start of annual tradition

JAUDON SPORTS: Savannah High, Groves earned statement wins at Enmarket Arena

Jump ball at start of Saturday's game between Savannah High (in white) and Calvary Day.
The inaugural Savannah Hoops Shootout was held over the weekend at Enmarket Arena and basketball fans across the city are hoping it’s the start of an annual tradition. In an unforgettable first event, those in attendance were treated to a pair of solid boy’s high school games on Friday, Nov. 24, and two more good ones on Saturday, Nov. 25.

More than the results of the games, which we’ll get to shortly, the event was more significant in what it represented. Savannah’s top teams played each other on the biggest stage the city has to offer and while event organizers have said they hope to expand and include teams from around the state of Georgia in the future, it was special to have a showcase of only Savannah teams to start.

“We had a good turn out, especially with it being an inaugural event,” said Jennifer Goodwin, event development coordinator for the C-Port Athletics group, which hosted the event presented by Mike Hostilo Law Firm. "In the future, we expect for the event to grow in numbers as we plan to reach out to more basketball teams.”

Ambitious in its aim, there is no guarantee the event returns next year, but most everyone involved is hoping it will.

"I felt like it was a good experience for Savannah basketball. I hope that the event continues to grow and we are part of it every year," said Savannah High head coach George Brown. "We appreciated the environment. In general, it really helped show me a lot about our kids. It was a great opportunity to display our kids' talent. Next to Atlanta, I believe Savannah has the most basketball talent in the state."

Former Johnson High School head coach, Utaff Gordon, was vital in the effort to bring it to fruition, all in a relatively short period of time. Gordon’s Savannah roots helped him to bring Savannah City Council members (and Mayor Van Johnson) into the fold. The school board, the C-Port Athletics Team, which he oversees, and the Savannah Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) Athletics Department were also critical components to hosting the showcase.

“There have been talks about having the event next year at the Enmarket Arena,” Goodwin said. “We're hoping to make it an annual event.”

Johnson High School, Savannah High, Groves High School, Benedictine, Calvary Day and St. Andrew’s (GIAA) were the six teams on the court in 2023. Johnson and Savannah High each played both nights, while BC and Calvary – schools with No. 1 ranked football teams playing Elite 8 playoff games on Friday – took to the court on Day 2. That’s three private school squads and three from the SCCPSS ranks - another good sign of balance in year one.

click to enlarge First Savannah Hoops Shootout could be start of annual tradition (3)
Travis Jaudon
Tim Jordan (in black with mic) guides Mike Hostilo (with hat) through a halftime promotion on Friday, Nov. 24, at Enmarket Arena.

Promotions between games included event sponsor Mike Hostilo and Mayor Johnson trying their best to make free-throws and three-pointers and fans from the stands coming down to attempt half-court shots for prizes. On the court, the action did not disappoint.

The Rebels (2-2) pulled away for good with a 14-5 advantage in the third quarter to knock off the two-time defending GIAA state champs. Head coach Kevin Evans and Groves moved into the Class 3A top-ten (at No. 10) with their third straight win. SAS (0-2) was led by 14 points from Zayden Edwards and 13 from Will Thompson. Sidney Flaggs scored 17 for GHS and Ty Chisolm added 16.

GHS – 13 - 14 - 14 - 17 – 58
SAS – 12 - 16 - 05 - 17 – 50
HT: SAS, 28-27.

This was a thriller in every sense of the word. Class 1A-DI No. 3 Savannah High outscored Class 3A No. 9 Johnson 20-11 in the final stanza to pick up a statement win of its own at the shootout. SCJ, which lost star Favion Kirkwood in the first quarter to injury, attempted five free-throws while SHS made 12-of-19.

Jermaine Edwards scored 13 points for The High and Josh Quarterman scored a game-high 20 for the Atom Smashers. Johnson made two three's and SHS made just one, providing an old-school feel to the proceedings. If not for a phantom walking violation, Cormari Jones would've had the play of the weekend. See it for yourself, it's more than worth it.

SCJ – 17 - 04 - 10 - 11 – 42
SHS – 05 - 13 - 08 - 20 – 46
HALF: SCJ, 21-18.
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Travis Jaudon
SCJ senior Josh Quarterman (with ball) inbounds vs. Savannah High on Nov. 24 at Enmarket Arena.
The Bluejackets earned their third straight victory overall and second in as many days at Enmarket Arena. Just as it did on Friday, SHS (3-1) used its size and strength to overpower Calvary Day (0-3) and get to the free-throw line with ease. SHS was led by Joyner's 16 points, Edwards' 15 and Jermontae Brown's 12. The Cavs were paced by a 20-point outburst from sophomore Demetrius Brown.

CDS – 12 - 04 - 14 - 16 – 46
SHS – 15 - 13 - 16 - 18 – 62
HT: SHS, 28-16.

Without the injured Kirkwood, SCJ (2-2) broke its two-game losing streak with the lopsided victory over the Cadets. BC (0-1) was without much of its varsity roster because of the football team's success, but this was still a close game until midway through the fourth quarter when the Atom Smashers pulled away. It was tied at 11-11 through one quarter, but Johnson outscored Benedictine 60-36 from there.

SCJ – 11 - 19 - 15 - 26 – 71
BEN – 11 - 13 - 09 - 14 – 47
HT: SCJ, 30-24.

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a general assignment reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and host of Hot Grits Podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram, @JaudonSports. [email protected]

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