Columbia boys, Flowery Branch girls start new season strong ... How the top teams fared

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

A strong showing in the Tournament of Champions has put Columbia back in the state rankings at No. 9.

The Eagles (9-5) went 3-1 in the American Division with wins over North Atlanta, St. Francis and Grayson. The loss was to Doral, Fla., which lost to South Cobb in the championship game.

Columbia’s 88-86 double-overtime win again Class A power St. Francis was especially memorable. Kenton Eskidge scored 30 points and Jalen Cobb had 17 in the win. Eskidge averaged 17 points for the tournament. Jalen Cobb and Reyhan Cobb each averaged 12.

The Bulldogs jump into Region 5 action on Saturday night against Miller Grove.

No. 2 Miller Grove (9-6) competed in the National Division and won its first game against Sacred Heart, before losing three straight to Wheeler, Lincoln, N.Y., and Oakridge, Fla.

No. 5 Cedar Shoals is hoping to build on its championship performance at the Sweet South Classic in Madison. The Jaguars won the tournament of the second straight year and beat host Morgan County 5-48 in the championship game. Phlan Fleming scored 25 and Quenjarvis Hall scored 22 in the championship game for the Jaguars (12-2). Cedar Shoals will host Johnson on Wednesday and Washington on Saturday.

No. 1-ranked Buford (11-2) went 2-2 in at the Arby’s Classic, beating Sullivan East of Bluff City, Tenn., and Wayne of Huber Heights, Ohio, before losing to Trinity of Louisville 69-66 and Wings Academy of the Bronx, N.Y., 72-66.  The Wolves play Wednesday against Clarke Central and Friday at Walnut Grove.

No. 6 Warner Robins (11-3) lost its two final games in the Lake City Classic, falling to South Paulding and Auburn, Ala. The Demons play again on Friday against Harris County and meet rival Northside on Saturday.

No. 8 Southwest DeKalb (10-6) will try to rebound after consecutive losses in the Tucker Holiday Shooting. The Panthers lost to Brainerd of Chattanooga, Tenn., and to Class A Private powerhouse Greenforest Academy, a neighborhood rival. SWD will play again on Friday against Arabia Mountain.

No. 9 Union Grove (11-3) won the consolation game of the Tattnall Square Christmas Tournament. The Wolverines beat host Tattnall Square 47-44 for third place after losing to Chattanooga Christian in the second round. The Grove hosts Stockbridge on Tuesday and travels to Ola on Friday and Woodland on Saturday.

In girls competition …

No. 3 Flowery Branch (12-2) successfully defended its title at the Lanierland Championship. The Falcons beat West Hall 59-50 in the championship game. The Branch used a 14-0 spurt in the fourth quarter to overcome a five-point deficit. Flowery Branch players Taniyah Worth and Julianne Sutton were both named to the all-tournament team. Flowery Branch will play at Winder-Barrow on Tuesday.

No. 2 Warner Robins (13-0) hasn’t played since winning the Jones County Christmas Tournament on Dec. 21. The Demons won’t have much time to dust off the rust, as they return on Friday against No. 9 Harris County (10-3), which went 1-2 at the CresCom Bank Tournament in Myrtle Beach.

No. 5 Griffin (13-0) hasn’t played since winning the Woodward War Eagle Classic on Dec. 20. The Bears return on Tuesday to host rival Spalding.

No. 4 Southwest DeKalb (12-4) lost its first game in the BalIn Prep Classic in Birmingham, but bounced back to beat Opelika and Hillcrest, a pair of Alabama teams. The Panthers have a big Region 5 game on Friday against Arabia Mountain.

No. 10 Arabia Mountain (9-1) won the consolation game of the loser’s bracket in the Sweet South Classic at Morgan County. The Rams lost their opener to Spalding, but bounced back to beat Cedar Shoals and Hapeville Charter.