Class AAAAAA blog: No. 1 Evans, No. 3 Lakeside boys to meet for Region 3 lead

Teams from DeKalb and Fulton counties have won boys basketball state championships in the second-highest classification 14 times in the past 15 seasons.

This year, the power appears to have shifted, as the top three teams in this week’s Class AAAAAA rankings are located far from the metro Atlanta area. Two of them – No. 1 Evans (17-0, 3-0) and No. 3 Lakeside-Evans (15-2, 3-0) – will face off on Friday in a game with sole possession of first place in Region 3-AAAAAA at stake. Coffee of Region 1 is ranked No. 2.

“The Lakeside game is probably the biggest game in the 20 years I have been at Evans, from a fan’s perspective,” Evans coach Kevin Kenny said. “Both teams are ranked top five and both are undefeated in region, but it is still just one out of 10 region games. … Fans are building it up, and the winner is in the driver’s seat for a No. 1 seed, but the region is far from over based just on this one game.”

Evans’ hot start represents a major step forward from last season, when the Knights went 14-14 and lost to Jonesboro 62-35 in the first round of the state tournament. The Knights are led by senior guard Cameron Cabarrus, who averages 17.4 points and 4.1 rebounds. He is a three-year starter who scored his 1,000th career point this season. Junior guard Christian Chambers averages 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, and sophomore point guard Joshton Mincey averages 6.3 points, 4.5 assists and 2.6 steals and is the leader on defense. The Knights start just one senior.

“We knew the work we put in this summer would translate into a pretty good year, but being 17-0 is a bonus,” Kenny said. “We felt we could compete with anybody. Our strengths include our bench and team defense. We have kids who can score, but we play about 10-12 regularly, and this helps us in the later stages of the game.”

Lakeside was 13-12 heading into the state tournament last season but made a surprising run to the quarterfinals, beating Stephenson and Richmond Hill before losing to eventual runner-up Gainesville 111-67 and finishing 15-13.

Senior guard Kalen Williams averages 21.4 points, 5. 1 rebounds and 4.6. He scored a season-high 38 points in an 84-71 victory over Alcovy on Tuesday and had 30 last week in a 70-48 win over Heritage-Conyers. Junior guard Tyshun Briscoe scores 17.4 points per game, and senior forward Tucker Gilbert averages 12.1 points and 11.5 rebounds.

Since 2004, Fulton County has gotten boys state championships in the classification from Mays (2004, 2005) and Hughes (2017, 2018), while DeKalb has titles from Columbia (2006, 2008), Tucker (2007) and Miller Grove (2009-2014, 2016). Only Brunswick in 2015 has been able to interrupt the counties’ hold on the championship.

Krossover Tournament 

Heritage-Conyers will be the only Class AAAAAA team in the field when it takes on host Archer at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the Krossover tournament, which features many of the top girls teams from around the state. Other matchups include Wesleyan (No. 1 A private) vs. North Cobb (No. 3 AAAAAAA) at 11 a.m.; Etowah vs. Grayson (No. 4 AAAAAAA) at 12:30 p.m., Lebanon, Tenn. vs. Norcross (No. 5 AAAAAAA) at 2 p.m.; Holy Innocents’ (No. 3 A private) vs. Cherokee (No. 6 AAAAAAA) at 3:30 p.m.; and Center Point, Ala. vs. Collins Hill (No. 2 AAAAAAA) at 5 p.m. Heritage has opened play in Region 3 with three consecutive victories to reach 8-4 overall and is tied for first place in the region with Grovetown.