The 2013-14 Bartow County high school basketball teams made several runs and featured multiple ups and downs throughout the course of their seasons, ultimately providing an exciting year and plenty of highlights.
Cartersville was one team which experienced far more highlights than lowlights in its run to the Class AAA state quarterfinals. The Canes eventually fell in a close game to the state runner-up, Buford, but finished with a 27-3 record and a Region 5-AAA championship.
Cartersville’s scoring differential was over 30 points per game this season and the Canes are now 54-5 in their last two seasons.
Cass also made the state tournament after winning two games in the Region 7-AAAA tournament, including an upset victory over top-seeded Northwest Whitfield. The Colonels lost their first eight games, but played better toward the end of the season to finish with an 11-10 record after the slow start.
Meanwhile, Adairsville got off to a strong start in its non-region portion of the schedule, going 5-1 to start the season. The Tigers then struggled during a stretch in early January, losing four of five, before finishing the regular season as the fourth seed heading into the Region 5-AAA tournament.
Adairsville had to win one game in the region tournament to reach the state tournament, but fell short against North Murray, a team the Tigers had defeated twice by an average of 16 points during the regular season. Due to the single-elimination format of the region tournament, Adairsville failed to make the state playoff despite going 13-11 and 8-6 in its region.
Woodland also had some ups and downs, finishing the season on a six-game losing streak and bowing out in the first round of the region tournament. The Wildcats had won four of five games during a stretch in early January, but did not play their best basketball in February. In the end, Woodland went 11-13 and 5-9 in the challenging Region 5-AAAAA.
Also playing in a challenging, albeit top-heavy, region, Excel finished third in its sub-region with a record of 6-7 and 9-16 overall. The Eagles featured several sophomores and their youth showed in the early season. However, the team was able to pick up some region wins late in the season as players gained experience.
Excel also lost head coach David Boyd when he resigned after just nine games. The team went 2-7 with Boyd at the helm. Athletic Director Chad Parker took over and helped lead his team to a 7-9 record the rest of the way.
As far as the teams’ matchups with each other, Cartersville went undefeated against county teams, beating Adairsville and Cass twice each. Adairsville, Woodland and Cass each split their two meetings against one another, while Excel did not face any of the other county teams.
Each team featured several standout players, many of which are seniors. Ten of the 12 members of the all-county teams played their final seasons for their respective schools.
CO-PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Cartersville had the best season of any county team and used a balanced attack featuring four double-digit scorers. The two top scorers, Corey Tobin and Ryan Davis, each racked up postseason honors for their outstandings seasons.
It is nearly impossible to mention one without the other, as Davis often penetrated the lane and found Tobin for open 3-pointers, while Tobin spaced the floor to help create the openings for Davis to drive to the hoop.
Tobin was the leading scorer as he averaged 18.4 points per game. He was recognized as the Northwest Georgia Tipoff Club Co-Player of the year along with Davis. He scored 27 points in the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival final against Model en route to being named tournament MVP. And in the state quarterfinal game against Buford, Tobin scored 30 points. He was named player of the year in Region 5-AAA.
This is his third selection to The Daily Tribune News All-County team after playing his first two seasons at Woodland. He scored 1,528 career points between the two schools and made 285 3s in that span. He made three all-region teams, played in three region championship games and won the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival all four years.
He shot 42 percent from behind the arc and 81 percent from the free throw line. His 107 3-pointers this season is a school record.
Tobin also was more than a scorer as he averaged 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists this past season to go along with 16 blocked shots.
“People will say he’s such a good shooter and he is, but he did so many things for us,” Cartersville head coach and Tobin’s father, Mike, said. “He just wants to win. We were so fortunate to have a great bunch of guys who just wanted to win.”
Davis also was one of those players and, at 6-4, served as the team’s point guard. He averaged 17.5 points per game in the 2013-14 season along with 6.7 assists, 6.2 rebounds and three steals per game. He was named to the Rome News-Tribune and Lake City Classic all-tournament teams and was an all-region team selection.
Davis had a triple double against Gordon Central on Jan. 8 with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while only playing 2 1/2 quarters. He also scored 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds in the game against Buford, scoring 11 of Cartersville’s final 15 points.
This is his second selection as The Daily Tribune News co-player of the year and third all-county team selection. Davis also scored 1,355 career points and was named to the Northwest Georgia Tipoff Club Co-Player of the year twice.
“[Davis] is a high-character kid. He’s a gym rat. He’s extremely strong with the ball and a great decision-maker,” Mike Tobin said. “He did a great job of controlling what we were doing and he does such a great job of penetrating to the basket. He’s strong and he finishes when he gets contact.”
Mosby, often overshadowed by Coey Tobin and Davis, was extremely valuable to the Canes’ season, serving as a prominent scorer, playmaker and defender. He averaged 15.3 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 steals per game.
He often guarded the opposing team’s point guard, providing pressure on the perimeter that led to several turnovers from the opposition.
The senior has made the all-region, all-county and the Holiday Festival all-tournament teams in each of his last two seasons.
Mosby raised his level of play in some of the most important games of the season and averaged 22 points in Cartersville’s playoff victories.
“A.J. had some of his best offensive games in the playoffs, but he was solid all year. He was one of the ones I felt was under the radar. A lot of times, I felt that Corey and Ryan were getting the attention, but A.J. was definitely a huge key to our successes,” Mike Tobin said. “He did so many things for us. He led us in steals. His free throw shooting percentage was 83 percent. He just did such a good job of penetrating for us. A lot of times, when we were struggling for baskets, he came through for us, especially in the region tournament and the first couple of games in the state tournament.”
Cartersville’s strength as a team lied in its guard play, but Benham provided the Canes with an interior rebounder and defender.
The senior scored 33 points against Gordon Central on Jan. 31, but his best game came in the second round of the state playoffs. Against St. Pius, the 6-foot-1-inch Benham outrebounded 6-foot-9-inch College of Charleston commit Nick Harris with 11 boards and added three blocked shots.
Benham averaged 10.7 points and 6.7 rebounds and nearly one block per game on the season.
“I’ve been a head coach for 22 years and I don’t know if I ever had a kid who has improved more in two years than Hunter has. He’s an outstanding rebounder,” Tobin said. “He has the heart of a lion. He was undersized in some of those playoffs games and out-of-region games and he held his own and outplayed the people he was going up against.”
Washington served as the primary playmaker and facilitator in Adairsville’s offense this season. He showed a knack for getting into the lane and finding teammates for layups, but when the defense gave him space, he shot 41 percent from the 3-point line. The senior point guard averaged 13 points, 4.7 assist and 2.6 rebounds per game. He also was a gritty defender, averaging 1.9 steals per game to help lead the Tigers’ stingy defense.
Washington had a 26-point game against region rival Ringgold on Jan. 3 after scoring 26 points two games earlier against Darlington. He also scored 22 points against Cass on Jan. 4 and recorded a double-double on Jan. 25 against Woodland with 14 points and 10 assists.
For his efforts, Washington was selected to the all-region team in Region 5-AAA and was the Northwest Georgia Club Player of the Year from Adairsville.
This is his second selection to The Daily Tribune News All-County team
According to Adairsville head coach Kent Howard, Washington not only stood out on the court, but as a team leader and captain as well.
“Tyler is a coach’s dream. He is an excellent student. He’s an excellent floor general. He’s an excellent practice player. He’s the kid that does everything the right way in all phases of his life, from the way he conducts himself on and off the floor to his relationships with people. I can’t say enough about what kind of man he is,” Howard said. “At the end of the day, he’s worked himself into a really good player, who’s going to have a chance to play college basketball.”
Frazier provided the inside presence for the Tigers this season and a dynamic duo with Washington. The 6-5 senior forward averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. He shot an impressive 57 percent from the floor
Frazier was the second-leading rebounder in the county and led Bartow in blocks, demonstrating the type of inside presence he provided Adairsville.
His skill set was on full display on Feb. 8 in a region game against Coahulla Creek. Frazier scored nine points, blocked nine shots and grabbed 23 rebounds to help his team to a 58-40 victory.
Frazier was selected to the all-region team and was Adairsville’s Northwest Georgia Tipoff Club Player of the month in December.
“Sammie is probably the most improved player I’ve ever had in a four-year span. He is truly a success story. He wasn’t very good coming in as a freshman, but he’s been methodical with the way he works. He really worked on the things that held him back from being good and that’s the thing I love about Sammie,” Howard said. “He became a game changer around the basket and that was his biggest asset. Whether he was on offense or defense, he really changed this team around the basket with his ability to rebound, his ability to block shots and score big baskets when we needed it. He matured into a really good physical post player.”
Cass head coach Greg Scott was looking for someone to emerge as a scorer for the Colonels this season after the graduation of Chris Darden.
Morning became that go-to player in his senior season, especially in the playoffs. He scored 20 points in Cass’ first-round region tournament game against Southeast Whitfield, including converting on a running fadeaway jumper with 38 seconds remaining to give the Colonels a 50-49 edge.
Morning then came back the next day and scored 18 points to help upset top-seeded Northwest Whitfield to qualify for the state tournament.
Overall, the guard averaged 10.3 points, 3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He converted on 53 3-point attempts for a .375 shooting percentage from behind the arc.
“He provided a calmness and a steadiness,” Scott said of Morning. “He was our leading 3-point shooter for us this year. He hit a lot of big shots for us, but he was a calming influence through everything. He was just very steady.”
Cass did not have much height on its front line, but made up for it in physicality. Reed embodied that physicality and often competed against the opponent’s biggest player. The senior averaged 10 points per game and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field.
Reed had five double-doubles on the season, including a 20-point, 11-rebound performance at Ridgeland on Dec. 13. He also had 16 points and 16 rebounds in a win against Adairsville on Jan. 4.
Reed’s impact was evident on Jan. 18 when Cass was outrebounded by 17 against Gilmer in a 70-52 loss with Reed sidelined because of an injury.
This is his second selection to The Daily Tribune News All-County team
“He just brought a physicality and an inside presence that we knew we were always going to need. He played bigger than his actual height. We never worried about him, just with his football background. He was going to go in there and bang with bigger guys and not worry about the contact,” Scott said of Reed. “We’d always tell him to, ‘Shoot for a double-double. If you’re grabbing 10 rebounds a game then we feel like we’re going to be in pretty good shape if everybody else does what they’re supposed to do.’”
There was little question who the go-to scorer was for Excel. Just a sophomore, Thrower was third in the county in scoring this past season, averaging 17.4 points per game.
He was an all-subregion selection and was named the Northwest Georgia Club Player of the Year from Excel.
Thrower was at his best creating space on one or two dribbles and pulling up from behind the arc. He also could score in the midrange and did just that in a Jan. 25 victory over Southwest Atlanta Christian when he hit the eventual game-winning baseline jump shot with 12 seconds left to put Excel up by two points.
He also scored 31 points in a Dec. 3 win against King’s Ridge.
“He’s just an outstanding scorer, a terrific shooter,” Parker said. “He’s really smart. He knows how to play the game, knows how to get open. He’s just a tremendous kid with great character.”
On a team comprised of mostly underclassmen, Tucker provided leadership and toughness to compliment Excel’s youth.
The senior guard also provided a scoring threat and averaged 10.9 points per game.
However, his role as a scorer increased during region play and the latter part of the schedule.
Tucker scored 18 points in a win over Mount Zion on Feb. 1 and 19 in a close loss to the No. 4-ranked public school in Class A, Trion, on Jan. 11.
“Korey was a slasher. He turned out to be our leader. He was a senior and did a really good job defensively and rebounding,” Parker said. “He had a few good scoring games. He controlled the game for us down the stretch. He did a really good job of running the team.”
Woodland’s center, at 6 feet, 7 inches, was the biggest player in the county, but what made Watson unique was his ability to step out on the perimeter and make jump shots.
The matchup nightmare averaged 15 points per game and was a walking double-double, averaging 11 rebounds per game. He also anchored the Woodland defense with two blocks per game.
Watson’s role on the team increased significantly this year as a junior and he was the primary offensive option for the Wildcats.
“He basically helped us create offense. Whether it was him shooting the ball, either inside or outside. Even in the games when he didn’t have a good game, it was just his presence, knowing that we could get the ball inside into him and everybody would collapse on him,” Woodland head coach John Howard said. “The whole season, he was either double-teamed or triple-teamed and he would always look to kick the ball. We always knew that we would get looks when he was on the floor because somebody was going to be wide open. We felt confident, offensively, that we could get good looks. Defensively, just knowing that he was there to clean up any trash in the lane. If somebody got beat on dribble penetration, they knew they were going to have a difficult shot in the lane because he was going to be there to challenge the shot.”
Woodland came into the season not knowing who would step up as the second scorer behind Watson. Hicks emerged as that player and gave the team baskets with his 3-point shooting ability.
Hicks was not afraid to mix it up in the paint, either, and averaged 12 points per game.
The senior guard had one of his best games when his team needed it most as he scored 18 points in Woodland’s playoff game against Lithia Springs, including four 3s.
“Romello came on this year really big for us. Last year, he was maybe a little bit in the shadows. He didn’t really stand out as much as he did this year,” Howard said. “In the offseason, he worked extremely hard and kind of surprised everybody this year. He ended up leading the team in virtually every offensive category, shooting percentage, 3-point percentage, free throw percentage and all that stuff. He was just instant offense when he came into the game. He just had such a quick release. We felt that when Carrod and him were on the floor that we could score.”
HONORABLE MENTION — Adairsville: Marcus Childers, Spenser Moore; Cartersville: Hakeem Winters; Cass: Jordon Cothron; Excel: Caleb West, Jack Bowers; Woodland: Damon Simpson.