Class 5A blog: A different Dutchtown team chases the title

The Dutchtown boys won the Class 5A championship last season.

Combined ShapeCaption
The Dutchtown boys won the Class 5A championship last season.

The defending state champion Dutchtown boys look a bit different than the group that walked out of the Macon Coliseum holding the Class 5A trophy last March. But that doesn’t mean the Bulldogs don’t have a legitimate chance of bringing the title home again.

Six seniors graduated from that 28-4 team that defeated Cedar Shoals for the school’s first state title. However, a good mix of veterans and youngsters has blended to start the season 12-6 against a difficult schedule.

“We’re on par with where we want to be,” said coach Jordan Griffin, who is in his second season at the school. “We knew we’d take a hit, but we knew we had some good young players and a good bunch of seniors coming back. It’s been a different season, but I like this group of kids and I tell people we’re trying to build a sustainable program here.”

Dutchtown did a lot of its damage a year ago by filling up the basket. The Bulldogs averaged 76 points and were one of the state’s best at shooting 3-pointers. This year, with graduation draining a lot of the offense, the Bulldogs are averaging 62 points, but still winning games.

“We can’t play as fast as we did last year, so we’re honing in on holding the opposition, trying to keep them around 50 points,” Griffin said. “We still play hard and we’re still aggressive.”

The Bulldogs are aggressive by nature. Griffin is always saying, “Chance favors the aggressors.” He uses that tagline on his email address. That notion permeates the team’s philosophy.

“We are aggressive,” he said. “We just want a chance to win and usually it’s the most aggressive team that has the best chance. We’re aggressive in everything we do, from when we warm up to when we play. That’s what it takes for us to have a chance.”

The only returning starter is senior Cameron Callahan, who Griffin called “our glue guy.” Callahan is a tough defender who is being asked to score more this season.

Gary Richardson, a senior point guard, played six minutes in the championship game last year and brought floor leadership to the team. Griffin called him “the ultimate point guard” and credited Richardson for his knowledge of the offense and how to run the offense.

Perhaps the player to watch is sophomore Coen Carr, a 6-foot-4 wing with a high motor and great skills. Carr leads the team in scoring (16.5 points) and his wingspan and ability to finish make the left-hander a likely prospect.

Senior Micah Evans brings a good inside presence the team needs.

The Bulldogs will host the Region 4 tournament. They’re currently in second place in the league, having lost their earlier match against rival Eagle’s Landing, which is ranked No. 2 in the state. The rematch will be Jan. 29 at Eagle’s Landing.

“We’re not there yet, but we’re starting to round the corner,” Griffin said.

Dutchtown plays at Locust Grove on Monday and returns home on Monday for a 2 p.m. MLK Day game against McDonough.

Coming Up on MLK Day

Dutchtown isn’t the only team that has a game scheduled for Martin Luther King Day. Here is a truncated list of a few teams in action.

A day of showcase games will be at the fifth annual J-4 MLK Holiday Basketball Classic at Fayette County High School. The highlight will be the 5 p.m. girls contest between Class 5A No. 1 Forest Park vs. Class 6A No. 2 Westlake. Both teams won state titles a year ago. The other games at Fayette County are: ELCA vs. Kell girls at 11 p.m., Luella vs. Parkview boys at 1 p.m., Luella vs. Griffin girls at 3 p.m., and Fayette County vs. Westlake boys at 7 p.m.

The No. 6 Woodward Academy boys will play McEachern at 1 p.m. as part of the Southern Showcase at Norcross High School.

The No. 4 Lithonia boys will play Galloway at 11:30 a.m. at Holy Innocents’ MLK Classic.

The Loganville boys will play Rockmart at 1:30 p.m. as part of the QwikCut Classic at Archer High School.

King will play at Tucker at 2:30 p.m. and Westside plays at Whitewater at 2:30 p.m.