Class 5A blog: Experienced Chapel Hill boys aim to make school history

The Chapel Hill boys basketball team, seen here at the school's 2022 Dress for Success event, is trying to win the school's first-ever region championship.

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The Chapel Hill boys basketball team, seen here at the school's 2022 Dress for Success event, is trying to win the school's first-ever region championship.

The Chapel Hill boys basketball team went to the Final Four last year. Now, with a senior-laden roster, the Panthers would like to bring home the first region championship in school history.

“The school opened in 1999 and has never won a region championship. So our main goal is to win the first region championship,” coach Rodney Latham said. “Region comes before state. We want to win region and get us in the state tournament.”

Chapel Hill is off to a 14-3 start, 6-0 in Region 6, and is ranked No. 6 in Class 5A. Last year the Panthers went 18-11 and lost to eventual champion Eagle’s Landing in the semifinal. The program is in its third season under Latham, who spent several successful seasons as head coach at Stockbridge before taking the job in Douglasville.

This year’s team has 10 seniors on the roster and is loaded with experience.

“That leadership and experience is big because so many of them played last year,” Latham said. “Our leading guys were contributing last year and now it’s their turn to take that responsibility.”

Coming close helped whet Chapel Hill’s appetite to improve on last year’s success.

“Since we lost that game last year, we took a couple weeks off and we just got right back into the gym,” Latham said. “We were just one game away from having an opportunity to win a state championship. Now we know what it feels like, it fuels what its like to have their last chance at it, so that kind of helps motivate them as well.”

Three seniors are in the starting lineup – Chi Shannon, Peyton Weathersby and Devon Wiggins. Shannon, a 6-foot-5 forward, provides an inside presence and averages 21-plus points. Weathersby, one of the team’s best shooters, averages 15 and teams with Shannon to create a difficult inside-outside combination. Wiggins is the point guard who knows how to distribute and play good defense.

“Chi is very athletic,” Latham said. “He can jump out of the gym. He can block shots. He’s good in transition ... He’s just really good. He’s one of the most offensive-minded kids I’ve ever had. He just finds ways to score.”

Shannon was an all-region choice last season and is a contender for region player of the year this season.

The other two starters are junior Kelvin Hunter, a 6-foot-7 forward who has been a starter since his freshman year, and Khirus Doucet. The next two off the bench are Bryce Howard and Jaden Kelly, but the Panthers typically use as many as nine players.

“We’ve got an eight or nine-man rotation and they all play really hard,” Latham said.

The Panthers still have return games on the schedule against No. 7 Lithia Springs and New Manchester. The region tournament will be hosted by Villa Rica.

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