Class 5A blog: Hiram boys making a move to join the big dogs

The Hiram boys basketball team got a taste of winning last year when they reached the Elite Eight. That only served to whet their appetites and the Hornets have continued their quest to compete against the best teams in the state.

Coach Keyon Boyd’s team is ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, has started the season 16-2 and has taken over first place in Region 7 with a 4-0 record. The Hornets take an eight-game winning streak into today’s game against Cartersville.

Boyd played at Marietta High School under the legendary Charlie Hood. He spent 10 years as head coach at Hillgrove and is in his fifth season at Hiram in rapidly growing Paulding County.

“You’ve got to figure it out and you’ve got to develop your kids and try to make the best of your situation and your resources,” Boyd said. “You’ve just got to come in and see what you’ve got and put it all together and make sure every kid is on board with what’s going on and you just start rolling.”

The Hornets have lost only to Class 3A power Johnson Savannah and a 17-1 St. Andrews, a l private schools. Hiram has won its four region games by an average of 33 points.

“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

Boys

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.

Girls

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).