Dutchtown standout Donovahn Jones is expected to miss the next two games for the Bulldogs as he participates in a high school all-star football game in Florida. Jones has verbally committed to play football at Missouri next season.
The Bulldogs start the second half of their region schedule without their best player and a crucial post player. But that’s not going to diminish first-year coach Terry Herrod’s growing optimism.
Dutchtown (5-6, 2-4 Region 4-AAAA) has won 4 of 5 games, including the last three, but won’t have Donovahn Jones or Jordan Harris today against Stockbridge and Saturday against Griffin. Both are football standouts playing in the Georgia-Florida High School All-Star Game in Boca Raton, Fla., on Saturday.
“We feel we can still be competitive,” Herrod said. You obviously want them out there, but it’s an honor for them.”
Herrod said Jones has picked up where he left off last season when he averaged over 19 points per game and helped Dutchtown navigate an early-season coaching change to reach the state playoffs.
But Jones was the only player with significant varsity experience returning this season. Herrod’s the program’s fourth coach in three seasons and didn’t get the position until late June.
It’s no wonder the Bulldogs lost 4 of 5 to start the season.
“We’re starting from scratch almost,” Herrod said.
Herrod feels things are starting to mix. He lauds the talent of Aundre Reed, the team’s shooting guard, who “may be one of the best pure shooters in the area,” Herrod said. Kalvin Hobbs, a senior point guard, has been “asked to do more than anyone else” and emerged as a team leader.
Another big surprise as been Charles Stokes, a junior who joined the team in October after moving back to Henry County from North Carolina.
“He’s really helped us at point guard and defensively,” Herrod said. “When you watch him on film, you see his defense, hustle, passing, competitive will.”
Another factor that Herrod’s had to consider is the transition from football to basketball. With several football players on the team, Herrod realizes several guys are just getting into basketball shape, including Jones.
“Historically, Dutchtown has always been a better January and February team,” Herrod said.
— Brian Paglia
To prepare his team, Raiders coach Tony Brinson put together a tough earlier season schedule that included powerhouse Westlake and Eagle’s Landing, a pair of state-ranked teams.
The Raiders enter the second half of the season with a 8-6 record overall and 4-2 in Region 4-AAAA, Div. B. Riverdale returns to action tonight against Spalding in a subregion game. It will be the team’s first game since a 74-64 loss to Lithia Springs on Dec. 22.
Brinson said he has been pleased so far with the way his team has played as they adjust to their new playing style. For the past three years, Brinson had coached the girls team before moving over to replace Derick Powell.
“So far, the players have been buying into our system,” Brinson said. “Going into the season, I thought we would struggle some as the players got used to me and my system.”
Quincey January has been one of the bright spots for the Raiders. He had a 28-point, 10-rebound effort in a win over Woodland last month. Brinson also said that guards Josh Milam and William McClellan have also been steady for the Raiders.
“We don’t have a lot of size on our team, but we are very athletic,” Brinson said. “We shoot the ball well in spurts. If we are hitting, we are a pretty tough team.”
— Derrick Mahone
In the second half of the season, Henry County coach Vincent Rosser is looking for a better defensive effort.
Rosser said he had been pretty pleased with the team’s offensive output in the Warhawks first 13 games of the season. Henry County is averaging 70 points per game while they are giving up 62 points a game.
Rosser said the holiday break has been centered around shoring up the defense and finding some help off the bench.
“I think we are coming together a little better as a team,” he said. “We are looking to develop the guys off the bench to come in with more intensity. We want them to come in a still provide the same effort as the starters.”
Senior Dre Souder has been leading the team. Rosser said that Tondric Johnson has been much improved since last season as he has worked his way into the starting lineup.
“The main thing is to get our bench players and starters on the same page,” Rosser said.
— Derrick Mahone