Championship previews

Here’s a look at the teams that play for the Class AA championships in Macon:

Boys: Morgan County vs. Jenkins

Morgan County (24-7) The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs are trying to become the first AAA team to win back-to-back titles since Columbia won three straight from 2010-12. The Bulldogs flew under the radar for some reason this season, probably because of their number of losses. But close inspection will reveal that most of those losses came against other state or nationally-ranked teams.

Best players: Tookie Brown, a shooting guard, is one of the most explosive perimeter players in the state. An exceptional 3-point shooter, the Mississippi State signee scored 37 in the win over Laney in the semifinals. Jailyn Ingram, a junior forward, brings a strong presence.

Jenkins (28-3):  The Warriors moved down in classification from last year, where they made the semifinals in Class AAAA. Coach Bakari Bryant preaches defense, a necessity for any team wishing to survive in the very difficult Region 1.

Best players: Guard Malik Benlevi, a Georgia State signee, is considered the best overall player on the team. He missed a month with an injury earlier this season, but may have benefited from seeing the game from the sidelines in a player-coach role. Point guard Eric Johnson has developed into an outstanding floor leader.

Girls: Laney vs. Beach

Laney (28-3) has been knocking on the door for years. The Wildcats play a brand of press-and-attack which sometimes drives the opposition into a shell. They limited an outstanding Decatur team to 37 points in the semfinals.

Best players: Aliyah Collier is the team’s top scorer and an outstanding rebounder, but Laney is far from a one-player show. De’Sha Benjamin  has made her presence known on offense and defense in a breakthrough freshman season. Jasmine Bartlett is another offensive threat, one of many.

Beach (26-5):  The Bulldogs have a good all-around team, but definitely took advantage of a beneficial drawing in the state playoffs. But there’s no question that Beach is playing well. The Dogs come into the final with a 16-game winning streak.

Best players: Jaqueline Anderson has been the team’s most consistent player all season. The senior is an intelligent player who makes the right decisions and can score in a variety of fashions. DyManee Royal gives the Bulldogs a good presence in the post. Ilyn Spann is a veteran who knows how to control the game at point.