Class 5A blog: A look at the boys, girls semifinal games

February 25, 2022 Marietta - Kell’s Crystal Henderson (30) drives against Langston Hughes' Sydney Smith (11) in the second half of 2022 Georgia Girls State Basketball playoffs at Kell high school in Marietta on Friday, February 25, 2022. Kell won 57-50 over Langston Hughes. (Hyosub Shin /



February 25, 2022 Marietta - Kell’s Crystal Henderson (30) drives against Langston Hughes' Sydney Smith (11) in the second half of 2022 Georgia Girls State Basketball playoffs at Kell high school in Marietta on Friday, February 25, 2022. Kell won 57-50 over Langston Hughes. (Hyosub Shin /

There’s something for everyone in the Class 5A semifinals.

There’s a legit Cinderella story – the Jones County boys – and seven other teams ranked among the top six in the state to fill out the bracket. And Kell has its girls and boys teams in the Final Four, giving the Longhorns a chance for the rare sweep. It should make for a great day of basketball on Friday at West Georgia University in Carrollton.

In fact, the game is such a big deal for Jones County – it’s the first time the boys have reached the semifinals since 1978 – that the school board declared Friday a virtual learning day so the players and students will have to get to the game.

Here’s a look at the semifinals.


Jones County vs. No. 2 Eagle’s Landing, 4 p.m.

Jones County (20-12) is the only unranked team remaining in the playoffs, but the Greyhounds cannot be discounted in any way. They play in rugged Region 4, which had all four teams reach the Elite Eight. Because they’re a No. 4 – the only one still standing – they had to win their three previous games on the road – going to Bradwell Institute, No. 10 Tucker and No. 3 Hiram. Coach Buck Harris features two all-Region 2 first-team choices – seniors Jaylen Sanford (20 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Daethan Harris (15.6 points, 3.2 assists) – and juniors Judd Anderson (9.2 points, 7.0 rebounds) and Jaden Stanley (11.3 points).

Eagle’s Landing (28-1) has won seven straight since its regular-season loss to rival Dutchtown. The Eagles are led by Region 2 Player of the Year David Thomas, a do-it-all senior who has signed with Mercer. Other standout players include junior Chris Morris, long-limbed Kenneth Brayboy and Khylan McKennie. Coach Elliott Montgomery is trying to get his team back to the championship game for the third straight season.

The two teams met twice in the regular season. Eagle’s Landing won 69-62 on Dec. 13 at home and prevailed 55-45 on Jan. 24 in Gray.

No. 4 Chapel Hill vs. No. 1 Kell, 8 p.m.

Chapel Hill turned it on at the end of the season, powered through to win the Region 5 tournament in an excellent league and has won eight in a row. First-team all-region player Kelvin Hunter, a versatile 6-7 senior who has signed with Young Harris, leads the team with 14.4 points and 10.8 rebounds. Seniors Khirus Doucet (9.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.5 assist) and Oray Towns III (17.4 points) were second-team all-region and junior C.J. Winters averages 10.8 points and 4.6 rebounds.

Kell (26-2) comes into the semifinals riding a 13-game winning streak. The Longhorns dominated the tepid Region 6 competition and its 73-60 semifinal win over Dutchtown was its closest call since losing to Class 7A semifinalist Grayson on Jan. 7 in overtime. The Longhorns have one of the state’s best big men in Peyton Marshall, a 7-foot, 300-pound junior who was named Region 6 Player of the Year and has already committed to Auburn. Juniors C.J. Brown, an athletic, high-flying guard, and Cannon Richards, a physical force with a high motor, were both first-team all-region and Jaylen Colon was a second-team pick.


No. 6 Calhoun vs. No. 1 Warner Robins, 2 p.m.

For some reason Calhoun (25-4) hasn’t gotten the same level of attention as the other three semifinalists, even though the Yellow Jackets lost only one region game. Coach Jaime Echols has the team in the Final Four for the first time in school history and riding a seven-game winning streak. Calhoun is led by Region 7 Player of the Year Britiya Curtis, a 5-6 senior guard who broke the school’s career scoring record and the career 3-point shooting record. Sa’Niah Dorsey and Lauren Watson are other all-region players on a team that loves to shoot the deep ball.

Warner Robins (27-3) has been the No. 1-ranked team since January and has won 11 straight games. The Demons are well-coached and disciplined and the roster is loaded with quick, skilled players. The team is led by Region 2 Player of the Year Jada Morgan, a returning all-state player who leads the club in scoring and rebounding. Morgan has signed with South Carolina State. Other top players are Tasia Agee, Tori Davis and Neveah Mack, all named to the all-region team.

No. 3 Maynard Jackson vs. No. 2 Kell, 6 p.m.

Jackson (26-1) has won 19 straight since its only loss, a two-point loss to Elbert County on Dec. 28. The Panthers are quick and play an aggressive brand of defense that few can match. Jackson is led by Taliah Cornish, the Region 5 Player of the Year, a junior point guard who averages 20.6 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 steals. This season she became only the fourth player in school history to score 1,000 points. Coach Michelle Powell’s team is fairly young – junior Shakira Gresham is averaging 13.9 points and 8.6 rebounds and freshman Cayden Cornish is averaging 10.7 points.

Kell (24-5) brings a 12-game winning streak into the semifinals. Coach Kandra Bailey’s Longhorns have already beaten No. 8 Hiram and No. 4 Bradwell Institute in the playoffs. The team is led by Region 6 Player of the Year Crystal Henderson, the school’s all-time scoring champion, who had 32 points in the third round win over Bradwell. First-team all-region pick Jada Green, a gifted 5-11 wing, and second-team selection Jamiah Gregory, a guard who can nearly dunk.

The winners will play for the championship on March 9 at the Macon Coliseum. The girls title game will be at 5:30 p.m., with the boys game to follow at 7:30 p.m.