A Beach High School basketball player dunks during a game earlier this season.

JAUDON SPORTS: High School Hoops season heats up ahead of Beach vs. Johnson Friday night

Updated February 1, 2023 at 4:25 p.m.

It’s February now. It’s the most important stretch on the Georgia high school basketball schedule and several Savannah boys teams are ranked highly in the state top-10 polls by Kyle Sandy of SandysSpiel.com. It has been a few seasons since a Savannah boys basketball team won a GHSA state championship, but St. Andrew’s won the GIAA state title last year and the Lions (20-1) seem to be a lock to repeat again in 2022-23.

Jenkins won the GHSA Class 3A state championship in 2015 and Johnson won the same title in 2013. Can one of the city’s contenders cash in on their opportunity to win a championship in early March? With respect to Bob Marley … time will tell.

Most of the area’s GHSA teams have four to six regular season contests remaining until region tournaments begin in mid-February. A lot of these squads are heating up at the right time, so it’s a good time to take a look at the GHSA schools aiming to bring a state championship back to Savannah for the first time in eight years. None of the coaches below have won a state championship as a head coach – except Tim Jordan, the coach of Savannah High, who is perhaps the longest shot among these teams.

Below, you’ll find the city’s best GHSA boys teams organized by classification. Each team’s capsule includes the overall record, region record, head coach, state rank and important information (for region 3-3A). I’ll be checking back in on these teams come region tournament time, so let’s go ahead and get familiar with them now.

NOTE: All stats, records and ranks are accurate through games played on Tuesday, January 31.

CLASS 3A

BEACH BULLDOGS

Overall record (region record): 19-2 (10-0 in 3-3A)

Head coach: Simon Heyward

State rank: 2

After their Cinderella run to the Final 4 last year, the Bulldogs are back to playing winning basketball under Beach alum Simon Heyward. The Bulldogs have eight straight games and will arrive for Friday’s showdown (Feb. 3) at region rival Johnson looking to clinch the regular season region championship. Senior Shamarrie Hugie is averaging roughly 21 points and nine rebounds per game.

JOHNSON ATOMSMASHERS

Overall record (region record): 17-4 (8-2 in 3-3A)

Head coach: Chuck Campbell

State rank: 3

Right on the heels of those Bulldogs, Johnson is seeing dividends now after a brutally difficult non-region schedule in November and December. Chuck Campbell’s team will always be paced by star senior Antonio Baker Jr. That’s a given. But the emergence of fellow starters Favion Kirkwood, Josh Quarterman, Malachi Robinson and Cormari Jones gives the Atomsmashers a formidable five. Johnson lost at Beach earlier this season, but it’ll have revenge on the mind when the Bulldogs come calling this Friday night. The ‘smashers have won four in a row and seven of eight since losing at Beach.

CALVARY DAY SCHOOL CAVALIERS

Overall record (region record): 14-8 (7-5 in 3-3A)

Head coach: Chad Carver

State ranks: 9

Calvary has begun to fade of late, but that doesn’t mean the Cavs can't find their footing and make a region tournament run to get solid state playoff seeding. Chad Carver’s team has a win over then-No. 1 Johnson earlier this year, but the Cavs have lost three straight and are in fourth place behind Beach, Johnson and Groves in the region standings. Only four teams make the state playoffs out of each region, and I like Calvary to correct itself and find a way into the big dance in the end.

CLASS 2A

WINDSOR FOREST KNIGHTS

Overall record (region record): 16-5 (8-0 in 3-2A)

Head coach: Aaron Clark

State rank: 8

CLASS 1A-DI

WOODVILLE-TOMPKINS WOLVERINES

Overall record (region record): 14-9 (9-0 in 3-A DI)

Head coach: Lenny Williams

State rank: 7

SAVANNAH HIGH BLUEJACKETS

Overall record (region record): 16-6 (7-2 in 3-A DI)

Head coach: Tim Jordan

State rank: 9


SPORTS NOTES

  • Chip Caray announced last week that he was leaving the Bally Sports Atlanta Braves broadcast booth after 12 seasons behind the mic in Atlanta. Chip was no Skip – his dad and the longtime Braves TV voice – but Caray was decent in the role and he was far from the worst in MLB. Tom Hart is a name who many believe is a frontrunner for the job. I would love to see Boog Sciambi or Ben Ingram if it isn’t Hart.

  • Calvary Day’s Jackie Hamilton is retiring after this season, the school announced on Tuesday. Hamilton will remain on staff as an assistant next season and currently has more than 420 career victories while leading the Lady Cavs.

  • National Signing Day for college football programs is on Wednesday, February 1, and it just doesn’t feel the same as it once did. Thanks to the new early signing period in December, many of the country’s recruits have announced and signed with schools long before the once cherished National Signing Day on the first Wednesday in February. The early period has been good for players, I think. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

  • Vanderbilt rising sophomore star pitcher Carter Holton has been named a preseason All-American by several publications. Holton, a graduate of Benedictine and an All-SEC freshman last season in Nashville, is expected to be one of the top left-handed pitchers in the country this year.

Follow Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at [email protected].

Published February 1, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

     

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and has been writing in Savannah since 2016. Reach him with feedback or story tips at 912-721-4358
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