Class 6A blog: Alexander boys climb in rankings after knocking off Osborne

Credit: KeithJJ /

Credit: KeithJJ /

Alexander made the biggest move in the Class 6A boys basketball rankings this week, jumping six spots from No. 10 to No. 4 after going 3-0 last week.

The Cougars’ most impressive win in that stretch was a 62-59 overtime victory in a non-region game Saturday against fifth-ranked Osborne. Alexander trailed 34-27 at halftime and 48-44 entering the fourth quarter but outscored the Cardinals 10-6 in the final eight minutes to force overtime.

Jah’Kim Payne had 14 points, four rebounds and three assists to lead Alexander. Sophomore Braedan Lue scored 13 points and added a team-high 11 rebounds. Payne averages 13.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists for the season, and Lue contributes 11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. Zion Fruster, who scores a team-leading 15.2 points, had 10 against the Cardinals.

“I thought early we played scared, fumbling balls, and could not catch passes,” Alexander coach Jason Slate told the Marietta Daily Journal’s Evan Washington. “But somewhere in there I thought some of our guys thought we were just as good as they are. We started playing harder and took it to them in the second half. Although we got into foul trouble, in overtime we found a way.”

Osborne got 15 points each from Zocko Littleton and Cristian Carroll.

Alexander (17-2, 9-1) has won six consecutive games since a 78-52 loss to Rome on Jan. 14. The Cougars are in first place in Region 5 and face third-place Rome in a rematch on Feb. 10 but could already have the No. 1 seed in the region tournament locked up by then.

Osborne, which held on to its spot in the rankings despite the loss, is 2-2 over its past four games since starting the season 16-0.

*The 20-win mark: Top-ranked River Ridge became the first girls team in Class 6A to reach 20 victories. The Knights defeated Riverwood 75-41 and Cambridge 82-54 last week to improve 21-1. Their only loss came on Dec. 11 against Class 7A No. 3 North Forsyth 63-58. Lumpkin County and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe of Class 3A are the only other 20-win girls teams in any classification. No Class 6A boys team has reached the 20-win mark this season, but five of the top-10 teams could do it this week.

*Last unbeaten girls team falls: The seventh-ranked Brunswick girls team suffered its first loss of the season Friday when it fell to third-place Bradwell Institute 59-54. Brunswick entered the week as one of two remaining unbeaten girls teams in the state, along with Class 2A Swainsboro, which also lost last week. The Pirates remain in first place in Region 2, a half-game ahead of Statesboro, which will host Brunswick on Feb. 8. Class 6A No. 1 Shiloh (19-0) is one of four remaining undefeated boys teams. The others are LaFayette of Class 3A and Social Circle and Calhoun County of Class A Public.

*Coming up: The biggest games in Class 6A this week will take place on Friday. Osborne’s boys will travel second-ranked Wheeler for the first of two games in six days between the teams that will go a long way toward determining the No. 1 seed in Region 6. … The 10th-ranked Grovetown boys will try to clinch first place in Region 3 when they host second-place Evans, which lost to Grovetown 76-58 two weeks ago. … The ninth-ranked Sprayberry girls have a half-game lead over No. 4 Kell in Region 6, and the teams will meet at Kell with first place at stake. Sprayberry won the first matchup 82-65 on Jan. 7.