There’s more than simply Houston County Bragging Rights that are up for grabs on Friday when No. 8 Veterans hosts No. 7 Warner Robins. The winner will take over the top spot in Region 1, an important factor since the regular-season champion gets to host the region tournament.
Veterans is 15-1 and has won three straight contests since being knocked off by Northside. Warner Robins (12-1) brings an 11-game winning streak into the game, tied with No. 4 Cedar Shoals and No. 10 Statesboro for the longest in the state.
Veterans has flourished under coach Brett Hardy, who is in his second season after a successful 16-year stint at Perry. The Warhawks have six seniors who have been around since the ninth grade, survived some trials by fire and developed into a region contender.
“I inherited some talent,” Hardy said. “They’ve bought in and grown into the system.”
Hardy teaches hard-nosed man-to-man defense 99 percent of the game, meaning Veterans likes to press and control the tempo.
Veterans is led in scoring by junior DeAngelo Hines, who averages 13 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals. T.J. Grant (11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds) is a big-bodied 6-foot-5 sophomore who can cause matchup problems on the perimeter. Senior Jaylyn Williams averages 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, owns a solid mid-range jumper and is capable of explosive scoring streaks. Omari Joseph, a 6-6 senior, is a gritty interior defender with improving offensive skills.
Warner Robins is led by senior Keshun Houser, a 6-foot-1 guard with a high motor. Houser scored 12 points last week against rival Northside. Other top players are Quon Dillard, the MVP of the Bear Brawl tournament, and junior Greg Jones.
Warner Robins coach Jamal Garman won his 200th game on Dec. 28 when the Demons beat Gadsden County, Fla. Garman took Warner Robins to the state title in 2018.
“Warner Robins is really athletic and they defend well,” Hardy said. “Coach Garman does a good job. They’re a good basketball team.”
Other top boys games this weekend:
Decatur at Maynard Jackson, Friday: Jackson (8-5, 5-1) and Decatur (12-5, 5-2) are two of the top teams in Region 6; Jackson is tied with Riverwood for first place and Decatur is in third. Jackson is coming off a 70-62 win over Lithia Springs. The Jaguars are balanced, with five players averaging nearly eight points. Jackson is led by senior Timipa Ogoun (10 points, 10.4 rebounds). Decatur is coming off a 53-36 loss to Riverwood. Decatur defeated Jackson 61-58 on Dec. 3.
Fayette County at Whitewater, Friday: The two rivals meet in what is shaping up as a bruising Region 3. Fayette County (8-7, 3-2) is led by veteran JeKobe Coleman (18.7 points) and King Calhoun (10.4 points, 5.1 rebounds). Whitewater (12-5, 3-1) was beaten by region-leading Jonesboro on Tuesday. Javon Jenkins averages 20.2 points and Omar Ndengey averages 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds. This is the first of two meetings between the two.
Hiram at Villa Rica, Saturday: Villa Rica (13-4, 5-4) is coming off an overtime loss to Carrollton. The Wildcats defeated Hiram 67-60 on Jan. 7. Hiram (11-4, 6-1) entered the weekend on a three-game winning streak. The Hornets play Carrollton on Friday.
Top girls games this weekend:
Arabia Mountain at Columbia, Friday: Arabia Mountain (14-2, 5-1) and Columbia (7-6, 4-2) are playing for second place in Region 5. Arabia Mountain lost a first-place showdown with Southwest DeKalb on Tuesday. Arabia Mountain’s top players are sophomore Mikayla Jameson (12 points, 9.8 rebounds), freshman Myori Pruitt (10.1 points, 63 percent FG) and senior Ke’Andrea Middlebrooks (8.3 rebounds). Columbia is led by junior India Terrell (15.3 points), Elese Harden (11.2 rebounds), and Daija Carr (11.9 points). Arabia Mountain won the first meeting 55-50 on Nov. 19.
Buford at Loganville, Friday: No. 1 Buford (15-0, 3-0) has ruled this region – and the rest of the state with three consecutive titles – with its all-out defense and wave-upon-wave of players. Buford averages 64.2 points, much of that coming as a result of its defense. All-state wing Tate Walters (a Furman signee) has been the best player for the Wolves. Loganville (13-4, 3-0) plays a good brand of defense, too; the Red Devils allowed only nine points in the second half of a win over Heritage, then the No. 8-ranked team in Class AAAAA. Loganville is led by Summer Bruner, who has scored her career-high 22 points a couple of times, and Janae Charles, a 6-foot junior who is starting to receive college offers.
Griffin at Starr’s Mill, Saturday: The top spot in Region 3 will be at stake when Griffin (11-6, 4-0) travels to Starr’s Mill (11-3, 3-0) for the first meeting between the two teams.
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