“Having that experience of going down to Eagle’s Landing really gave our returning guys the experience and then playing all summer has them where we are,” Boyd said.
The team is led by Jay Boyd, the son of the coach, who has signed to play at Lincoln Memorial. Sandy’s Spiel ranks Boyd, a 6-foot-2 senior, as one of the top shooting guards in the state. He’s also an outstanding baseball player.
“He’s done a great job,” Boyd said. “He’s grown so much and I think playing baseball has really helped him. He can score the ball, he can defend, he can play multiple positions. He’s like, ‘What do you need me to do?’ And I’ll tell him and he’s like, ‘I got you, Dad.’ "
A pair of top junior football prospects are in the starting lineup – Chase Taylor, a 6-foot-4 four-star prospect at wide receiver and Walter Matthew, a 6-7, 230-pound five-star tight end.
Taylor is the team’s leading scorer. He played on the team as a freshman and has grown as a basketball player. “It’s been good to see him develop and grow,” Boyd said. “He’s just tenacious. You know what you’re going to get when he gets on the floor.
Matthew is the inside presence who controls the paint. Boyd said, “He’s going to block shots and he’s going to make a lot of teams do a lot of things that make them uncomfortable.”
The other starters are Amir Taylor, a 6-foot senior point guard with a high basketball IQ and loads of on-court leadership, and Aaron Wesley, a 6-3 senior who Boyd calls “our P.J. Tucker. He can knockdown the shot and he can guard anybody – the other team’s best player or talent player. He’s just one of those guys that can do it all.”
Barring a big stumble, the Hornets are headed toward the state playoffs. They went 18-10 and shared the regular-season region title with Calhoun last season and beat the Yellow Jackets for the region championship. A similar showing this year would guarantee another trip to the state tournament, as the two top seeds in the region automatically reach the state playoffs.
We’re just trying to play to a standard,” Boyd said. “We tell our guys we can’t take anybody lightly. There are a lot of good teams out there that are going to give you a run for your money.”
Tonight’s best games
There are two important games in Region 2. No. 1 Eagle’s Landing (20-0, 8-0) travels to No. 4 Jones County (14-6, 4-4) for their return meeting. Eagle’s Landing won the first game 69-62 on Dec. 13. No. 6 Dutchtown (14-6, 6-1) plays Warner Robins (12-5, 4-4); Dutchtown won the first meeting 59-48 at Warner Robins.
In Region 5, No. 5 Mays (13-5, 8-1) travels to Creekside (11-7, 6-3). Creekside handed Mays its only region defeat, 74-69 on Dec. 10.
In Region 1, No. 4 Bradwell Institute (15-3, 5-1) hosts Ware County (15-6, 5-1) to determine ownership of first place. Bradwell won the first meeting 61-42 on Dec. 14. Ware County has won five straight and beat No. 10 Statesboro on Saturday. Bradwell is coming off a lost to Greenbrier.
In Region 3, Harris County (14-5, 3-0) travels to Northside Columbus (11-6, 3-0) to break the first-place tiebreaker. It is the first meeting between the two teams this season; they play again in the season finale. Northside has lost two of its last three games and was beaten by Columbus rival Hardaway over the weekend. Northside is led by Mya Giles, who averages 16.7 points, four rebounds and 3.1 assists. Harris County had its six-game winning streak broken by Callaway in a non-region game. Harris County is led by Brooke Bass (18.6 points) and Ja’Niya Broome (12.3 points).