Class 5A blog: Dutchtown’s emphasis on defense yields big returns

Credit: Photo courtesy Dutchdown High School

Credit: Photo courtesy Dutchdown High School

Since winning their state championship in 2020, the Dutchtown boys basketball program has spent a couple of years wandering in the wilderness. Now with proven winner Wallace Corker, the team’s four head coach in four years, coming in to run the program, the Bulldogs have progressed to the point where they must be considered a contender when the state playoffs begin next month.

Dutchtown made it official last week when they handed No. 1-ranked Eagle’s Landing its first loss of the season, a 54-52 thriller in Hampton. Dutchtown (17-6, 9-1) still has games against Union Grove and Jones County, but can finish no worse than second in Region 2. If the Bulldogs tie for first with Eagle’s Landing, the tiebreaker for the top seed in the region tournament goes to Eagle’s Landing because of point differential in head-to-head contests.

Dutchtown won its game against Eagle’s Landing, the school’s biggest rival, is dramatic fashion. With the score tied, Adrian Avery brought the ball down and was there to tip in missed shot with one second left for the game-winner. Mayhem ensued, as it was Dutchtown’s first win in the series since 2020 and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Eagles.

“It was fun. It was a great game, great atmosphere,” Corker said. “Eagle’s Landing has a great program, so it was a good win. It kind of got everyone excited.”

The biggest things that Corker has emphasized since his arrival this season has been the ability of the players to work together instead of as individuals, and knuckling down on defense – which has always been one of Corker’s trademarks. Defense has always been the key in Wallace’s World.

“They’ve really bought into it,” Corker said. “The challenging part was to get the whole team to understand the concept. They’ve worked hard to get here … and we’ve still got a long way to go. I’m extremely proud of them because it’s a great bunch of kids.”

The team is led by Avery, a 6-foot-3 senior who can play any position. Avery had to play point against Eagle’s Landing when starter Davarre Barthell was sidelined with an ankle injury.

Jeremiah Edwards, a 6-4 senior, is one of the team’s top scorers, and the return of Braxton Cooley, a 6-5 senior, has provided a big boost. Cooley hurt his knee and had to have an operation last season and has begun to play at a high level.

There’s good size on the roster with 6-6 junior Joah Chappelle, 6-8 junior Matthew Hinton, and 6-6 senior Austin Fortune. Sophomore Austin Mosby-Weeks is playing well off the bench.

Dutchtown has two games remaining – Tuesday at Union Grove and Friday at home vs. Jones County. The Region 2 tournament will be played at Warner Robins.

Tuesday’s top games


In Region 1, Greenbrier (14-9, 7-1) hosts Statesboro (13-5, 5-2) with a chance to nail down first place in the region with a win. Greenbrier won the first meeting 62-50 on Jan. 10. Statesboro can move into a tie for first place with a win. Greenbrier finishes the season with Jenkins on Friday. Statesboro finishes its region schedule against Ware County on Friday and Bradwell Institute on Saturday.

In Region 5, No. 4 Mays (15-5, 10-1) travels to No. 8 Tri-Cities (12-8, 9-2) to possibly determine first place. The contest could be a showcase for Mykel Wiliams (16.5 points, 6.1 assists) of Mays and Kory Mincy (19.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists) of Tri-Cities. Mays won the first meeting 70-60 on Jan. 6 in Atlanta.

In Region 4, No. 9 Tucker (15-5, 8-0) can clinch first place with a win at Lithonia (15-7, 5-3). A win would give the Tigers a two-game lead with only one region game remaining. Tucker is on an 11-game winning streak, which includes a 56-52 overtime victory over Lithonia on Dec. 10.


In Region 4, No. 7 Arabia Mountain (21-1, 8-0) can clinch first place with a win against Decatur (15-7, 7-1). Arabia Mountain beat the Bulldogs 56-49 on Dec. 10 in the first meeting and a win would give the Rams a two-game lead with on region game remaining. Arabia Mountain has won 18 straight since its loss to Walnut Grove in November.

In Region 8, Loganville (13-8, 8-1) can clinch at least a tie for first place with a win over Jefferson (7-15, 6-3). The Red Devils, who have reached the third round of the playoffs the last two seasons, still have region games remaining against Flowery Branch (tied with Jefferson for second place) and Winder-Barrow.