Class 4A Blog: McDonough and Fayette County meet again in top 10 showcase

Class 4A’s position as Georgia’s middle classification makes it a great metric regarding the full scale as its member teams compete against top opponents from the higher and lower classes. In a sport like football, the roster size would predictably give Class 4A an advantage over the lower classifications, but basketball is a much more level playing field between Class 4A and opponents from the smaller classifications—especially powerhouses in Class A Private that routinely compete against higher classifications. This reality has played out on the girls side in the past week and a half as Class 4A’s two top ranked programs (Jefferson and Luella) both dropped close games to teams from lower classifications. Jefferson was handed a 49-32 defeat by Class 3A’s Lumpkin County back on Dec. 30. The Dragons have bounced back with consecutive victories and now sit at 14-2 overall. Jefferson’s only other loss this season came to Region 8 rival Cedar Shoals (50-36) back on Dec. 14 and it will have an opportunity to avenge that loss at home on Jan. 21. Luella is 12-2 with no losses within Class 4A. The Lions fell 50-47 in their season opener against St. Francis and then were served a 62-56 defeat by Mt. Paran Christian on Saturday. As a result, both of Luella’s losses came to teams right at the top of the Class A Private top 10. Luella can halt this trend on Monday, however, with a home game against Class A Private No. 1 Holy Innocents. It’s also worth pointing out that Carver-Columbus (8-2) is also undefeated within Class 4A. The Tigers also dropped their season opener to St. Francis (57-50) and their other loss came to Class 6A Carrollton (60-59).

On the boys side, the competition has been more confined to play within the classification in the past two weeks and the results have been a spate of top 10 battles. Additionally, No. 1 McDonough will take on No. 8 Fayette County Tuesday night in a massive Region 5 showdown. McDonough previously scored a 63-49 win on Nov. 30 and that was a game where McDonough took 33 trips to the foul line and Fayette County earned just six trips to it. The biggest question in this game will be if McDonough’s star powered lineup can once again out pace the Tigers and Kaleb Banks—who is the highest rated prospect in the state. The 6-foot-8 four-star prospect is the No. 3 ranked senior in the state according to 247sports and he recently committed to powerhouse Indiana in November. Banks’ impressive status as a recruit has been validated with his play this season and he is currently leading all of Class 4A with 25.7 ppg. Furthermore, Banks is leading the way with 55 percent shooting from the field and he is able to also knock down three-pointers with his range, make an impact at the foul line with his outstanding accuracy and contribute 10.4 rebounds per game. Earlier this season, Banks scored 38 points off 17-of-19 shooting in Fayette County’s 105-55 win over Riverdale. He has scored more than 30 points in six separate occasions and achieved that mark in three-straight games to start off an outstanding December. Perhaps no game shows how valuable Banks is to Fayette County than the team’s recent 59-58 win over Trinity Christian where Banks scored a game-high 37 points to go with a season-high 17 rebounds.