Centennial’s boys basketball team is ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA based largely on something that happened almost three months ago: a victory against defending state champion Wheeler.
The Knights (14-6, 8-0) can validate their standing this week when they play No. 1-ranked Milton (17-3, 7-1) in games Tuesday and Saturday that will decide the sub-region championship in powerful Region 6-AAAAA.
Centennial has beaten No. 4 Wheeler and No. 6 Walton but lost three times in four games last month to out-of-state opponents, twice in Dayton, Ohio, and once against T.C. Williams of Virginia in a local game.
"This week is going to explain a lot of things for this season,’’ Centennial coach Allen Whitehart said. “We got some early wins, but we weren’t nearly where we needed to be as a top-tier team. Even against Wheeler, we didn’t play as well as we could. Injuries hurt us in Dayton. We played five kids against T.C. Williams. Now that we’re healthy, I like our chances.’’
The Knights lack the marquee player of some of their rivals but feature five mid-major Division I-A recruits. The leading scorer is Devonta’ White, who has signed with Georgia State. Jeremy Burgess, a 6-foot-5 wing, has signed with Mercer. Post player Vinny Bailey will play at Lincoln Memorial, a Division II school that is about to move up to D-I.
Others with D-I offers are Adrian Rodgers and Nathan Harries. Harris suffered a deep thigh bruise against Walton that forced him out for a few games. He’s back.
Whitehart said a key matchup against Milton will be White against Milton point guard Shannon Scott, who has committed to Ohio State.
"Scott has probably improved more than any guard in the state ... he and Devonta’ both,’’ Whitehart said. “Both are consistent jump shooters now. Last year, I thought both were hit or miss. You have two guards on both sides that can hurt you on the point position.’’
The Milton-Centennial games are among several key matchups this week that include:
- Campbell at No. 6 Walton (AAAAA boys) Friday: The loser falls to third place in its subregon of 6-AAAAA, which means trouble in the region tournament. The No. 3 seed probably will face Milton or Centennial in the quarterfinals, with the loser left out of the state tournament.
- No. 6 Chamblee at No. 2 Miller Grove (AAAA boys) Friday: Each of these DeKalb County schools leads its division of Region 6.
- No. 1 Fayette County at No. 7 Mays (AAAA girls) Friday: Both are 9-0 in Region 5.
- No. 4 Northwest Whitfield at No. 8 Osborne (AAAA girls) Friday: Northwest is 17-2 (8-0 in Regon 7.) Osborne is 17-3, 9-1.
- No. 5 GAC at No. 1 Buford (AA girls) Friday: Buford beat GAC 50-43 last month. Another victory would virtually wrap up Region 6 for the Lady Wolves.