Sunday, December 02, 2007

Top 20 Power Poll: Week 1


With the season's first full week of work in the books, the Top 20 Power Poll has a couple of big shifts, three new teams in and a number of key match-ups to watch this week.

1. Wheeler (1-0)
Notable victories: McEachern (No. 7 at the time) 87-78
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Alpharetta, Dec. 7 vs. No. 3 Centennial
Last rank: 1
Notes: If there were any questions about just how good the Wildcats are going to be this year, the AAAAA powerhouse certainly answered them. With a lineup of five Division I players, Doug Lipscomb might have his best team ever at the Cobb County school. But isn't that always the assumption at the start of the year? A convincing win over McEachern proved the point home. A huge match-up against Centennial awaits the team this week. Get your popcorn ready.

2. Westlake (2-0)
Notable victories: Creekside (NR) 76-61
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 at Fayette County (No. 16), Dec. 8 at Star's Mill
Last rank: 3
Notes: Senior Ray Willis is off to a hot start this year. The Oklahoma bound wing is averaging 23.5 points a game so far for the Lions. Junior forward Javoris Bryant scored 27 in the season opener against Creekside. A major test comes this week when the team travels to 2-AAAA foe Fayette County for a huge game in Fayetteville. Georgia Hoops will be on hand for this one.

3. Centennial (2-0)
Notable victories: Whitefield Academy (No. 6 at the time) 51-43
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 at Wheeler (No. 1)
Last rank: 4
Notes: The Knights are diving right into the season and have one of the best games of the year already on the calendar against Wheeler, the state's top team. Both victories haven't come easy for Centennial and playing on the road will be a challenge. We'll learn a lot about the Roswell school on Friday night. It proves to be one of the biggest games of the year, just three games into the season.

4. Norcross (1-0)
Notable victories: Collins Hill 76-43
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Forsyth Central, Dec. 6 at Peachtree Ridge (Thursday game)
Last rank: 5
Notes: The two-time AAAAA state champions picked up where they left off from last year in a blowout win over Collins Hill. Al-Farouq Aminu, the state's top senior, scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the season opener. Guards Denzail Jones and Taariq Muhammad both did what they are known to do. Jones shot the lights out and Muhammad directed the offense well.

5. Columbia (4-0)
Notable victories: Antioch (TN) 85-62
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Miller Grove (No. 6), Dec. 7 at SW Dekalb, Dec. 8 vs. Cedar Grove
Last rank: 8
Notes: The Eagles traveled to Nashville to take on one of the best teams in the Music City and did some damage on the road. Travis Leslie, one of the top unsigned seniors in the state, scored 25 while fellow uncommitted 2008 player Kenny Mitchell put in 21. South Carolina signee Darius Morrow scored 15 points.

6. Miller Grove (4-0)
Notable victories: Redan 51-50, Tucker 70-62
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Columbia (No. 5), Dec. 7 at Washington, Dec. 8 vs. No. 15 Wesleyan (at. Mt. Zion-Jonesboro for Georgia Hoopfest)
Last rank: 15
Notes: The Wolverines won the Dekalb County Thanksgiving Classic with a one point win over Redan. Junior point guard Mfon Udofia was named tournament MVP after averaging 26.6 points and seven assists a game in the tournament. Senior wing Justin Allen emerged as another scoring option for the Lithonia team. Udofia scored 40 against Tucker, the defending AAAA state champions on Saturday.

7. Blessed Trinity (5-0)
Notable victories: Dunwoody (No. 2 at the time) 73-68; Marietta (No. 9 at the time) 50-35
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Chamblee, Dec. 7 vs. North Atlanta, Dec. 8 vs. Pace Academy (5 p.m.)
Last rank: NR
Notes: Only two weeks into the season and we already have a major surprise in the state. The Titans went to Dunwoody and played a tremendous game against one of the top powers in the state. Senior guard Jordan Callahan led the attack with big shots and great passing. The team is well-balanced and well-coached. The spotlight is now on the Roswell school.

8. Dunwoody (1-1)
Notable victories: None
Notable loss: Blessed Trinity (NR) 68-73
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Druid Hills, Dec. 7 at Grady, Dec. 8 at Rome (4 p.m.)
Last rank: 2
Notes: For the first time in forever, Dunwoody lost at home. Blessed Trinity came into Wildcat Country and defeated one of the best teams in the state handily. Dunwoody rebounded and beat a talented Chamblee team the game after. A big test comes when the AAA powerhouse travels north to Rome for a tough road match-up against Rome, featuring Wake Forest bound Tony Woods. Last year's game saw Delwan Graham go for 19 and 19 against Woods.

9. Whitefield Academy (2-1)
Notable victories: Marietta (No. 9 at the time) 66-54
Notable loss: Centennial (No. 4 at the time) 43-51
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Our Lady of Mercy, Dec. 8 at Meadowcreek
Last rank: 6
Notes: After a tough loss on the road to Centennial, Whitefield rebounded well and came back for its first win of the year against Eagle's Landing Christian on the road. The Wolfpack also went on the road to Marietta, one of the toughest places to play in Atlanta, and walked away with a moral boosting 12-point victory over the Blue Devils. The brutal non-region schedule continues with a tough road game against Meadowcreek on Saturday.

10. South Atlanta (2-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at North Clayton, Dec. 7 vs. Clarkston (at Price Middle School)
Last rank: 11
Notes: The state's best player, Derrick Favors, scored 42 points in the season opener against Washington High School. The Hornets have a huge non-region rivalry game on Tuesday night against a good North Clayton team on Tuesday night. Georgia Hoops will be on hand for that one.

11. Swainsboro (1-0)
Notable victories: Dublin 78-75
This week's schedule: Unknown
Last rank: 12
Notes: Won a tough one on the road against Dublin without a full roster of players. Alabama bound Tony Mitchell scored 39 in the win.

12. Jordan (3-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Shaw, Dec. 7 at Hardaway, Dec. 8 at Central Talbotton
Last rank: 13
Notes: The defending AAA state champions are off to a hot start, blowing teams out by at least 20 so far. Unsigned senior Terrence Hill scored 40 against LaGrange. Don't sleep on the Jackets again this year. They have major scoring power.

13. Tucker (0-1)
Notable victories: None
Notable loss: Miller Grove (No. 15 at the time) 62-70
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 vs. North Springs
Last rank: 10
Notes: Junior Manny Atkins scored 25 points for the defending AAAA state champions in the season opening loss to Miller Grove. The Tigers have a light load this week but should still be counted on as a major contender within region play this year.

14. McEachern (0-2)
Notable victories: None
Notable losses: Harrison (NR) 65-68, Wheeler (No. 1) 78-87
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. South Cobb, Dec. 7 at North Cobb, Dec. 8 vs. Walton
Last rank: 7
Notes: Two games in and the Indians have some major soul searching going on right now. The Powder Springs club dropped its first two games of the year but don't sleep on them. The talent is there. Trae Golden is just a sophomore but he can absolutely go. The team has size and senior Darrius Garrett is showing a nice, and improved, offensive game early on.

15. Wesleyan (2-1)
Notable victories: None
Notable loss @ Christ School (N.C.) 72-74
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Creekview, Dec. 7 vs. Holy Innocents, Dec. 8 vs. (No. 6) Miller Grove (at Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, 7:00 p.m.)
Last rank: 14
Notes: Despite 31 points from Howard Thompkins, the AA powerhouse dropped a tough one out of state to a very good Christ School team. A game later, he put in 35 points on the second leg of the North Carolina trip.

16. Fayette County (5-1)
Notable victories: Creekside 74-72
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Woodward Academy, Dec. 7 vs. (No. 2) Westlake, Dec. 8 vs. Parkview
Last rank: 16
Notes: Junior Noel Johnson scored 42 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against McIntosh last week. The Tigers continue to win big games and the biggest test of the year comes this week against Westlake on Friday night.

17. Savannah Johnson (1-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 at Camden County, Dec. 8 vs. Statesboro
Last rank: 17
Notes: The Atom Smashers picked up a 22-point win to start the season. Quietly, this team could string together a good run of wins and creep up on the state as the year rolls forward. Don't sleep on them.

18. Cherokee (1-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 at Hillgrove, Dec. 8 vs. Etowah
Last rank: 18
Notes: Shawn Kemp, Jr. scored 24 points for the Warriors in a 94-84 overtime win that looked more like a track meet against East Paulding High School.

19. M.L. King (3-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Lithonia, Dec. 7 at Luella
Last rank: NR
Notes: With wins over North Atlanta, Chattahoochee and North Gwinnett in the South Forsyth tournament, the Lions have shown off great balance and athleticism early. Seniors Greg Henry and Demetrius Bates are leading the team early.

20. Savannah (3-0)
Notable victories: Liberty County 88-82 OT, Beach 65-50
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 vs. Windsor Forest, Dec. 8 at Richmond Academy
Last rank: NR
Notes: The Jackets are off to a hot start with a pair of important wins against area teams. A 65-50 win over cross-town rivals Beach is equivalent to Georgia Tech winning a football game against Georgia. South Cobb made their way down to the coastal city and were beaten by 16 points. Guards Kevin Williams and Norris Rumph are tough to deal with in the backcourt.

Dropped out: Marietta, East Hall and Meadowcreek