The situation at winter break time for Suwanee high school basketball teams:
The varsity Eagles have a new coach in Eric Nathan and young team with two sophomores in the starting rotation. The team has yet to win a game, but their first four losses against non-region opponents were all single digit losses. “In our early games we struggled to figure out how to win close games,” Nathan said via phone. “Now we are working on how to compete with strong teams.”
Despite their winless start, there is optimism from Nathan. He’s getting strong play from his two sophomores, Devin Mitchell and JohnCarlos Reyes. Mitchell is a 6-3 guard that is providing scoring for the squad and Reyes is a 6-7 post player that is starting to assert himself more and use his size down low.
Nathan says the goal for the coming weeks is to “play tougher and more physical.” The Eagles have five non-region games before resuming play in the region against crosstown rival North Gwinnett on January 3.
Collins Hill girls
The Collins Hill girls varsity team, 3-4 after their first seven games, is coached by Scott Wild. After dropping their two opening games, the girls won three consecutive games over Archer, Dacula, and Brookwood.
The returning players are led by 5’6” senior Jordan Ulm playing wing, 5’6” senior guard Emily Buck, and 5’4” junior guard Bre'ana Singleton. Freshman Brittany Stowers is also contributing this season for the Lady Eagles.
In their big win against Brookwood on November 29, Singleton had 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Junior Julianne Bayer led all players in the game with 10 rebounds.
The team will play in the Deep South Classic at Brookwood high school over the winter break and resume region play against North Gwinnett on January 3.
The varsity boys from North Gwinnett started the season with four consecutive losses before a strong rebound with two consecutive region wins against Peachtree Ridge and Duluth. The Bulldog squad is starting two freshmen in TJ Howard and Kamaran Calhoun, but they also have seven seniors with experience to form a team deep in talent.
Georgia Tech signee Chris Bolden is the team’s leading scorer with 18.4 points per game and 3.6 assists. Senior Kwesi Abakah, 6-9, leads the team in rebounds with 6.8 per game.
“The team is starting to gel and come together,” said coach Zach Smith by phone. “We wanted to play the tough games early to get us ready for region play and then use our bench depth to help us compete.”
The Bulldogs will play in three tournaments over the winter school break, which includes being the host school in the Jared Cook Tournament Dec. 20-22. The Bulldogs resume region play on January 3 against crosstown rival Collins Hill.
North Gwinnett girls
The North Gwinnett girls basketball team, coached by Bryan Sellers, returns Lexie Brown, Peyton Whitted, and Ariel Johnson from a team that made the final 16 in the state tournament last year. The team is off to a strong start at 3-1 overall and 2-0 in region play.
The Lady Bulldogs will host the Jared Cook Tournament and also compete in the Holiday Inn Invitation over the winter break. They resume region play against crosstown rival Collins Hill on January 3.
The Lions, led by coach Keith Arrington, hope to extend their streak of six consecutive years with a state tournament qualification. The team is 3-4 overall and 0-1 in region play with a loss to crosstown rival North Gwinnett.
Benny Johnson, 5-11 senior guard, and Brandon Jack, 6-4 senior forward, are returning starters. Jordan Copps, 6-5 junior guard, and 6-7 sophomore Amir Warnock are also contributing.
The team will play in the Great Florida Shootout tournament over the winter student break and resume region play against Meadowcreek on January 3.
Peachtree Ridge girls
The Lady Lions, coached by James Clanahan, return three starters this season and look to get back to the state tournament. Gabby Cole is the lead returning senior. Seniors Claire Hays and Taylor Cobb also look to play prominent roles for the team. They will be helped by Junior Melissa Turvy who was first-team all-region last season.
The Lady Lions started the 2011-12 season with wins over Henry County, Riverdale, and Central Gwinnett. Overall the team is 3-3 with a 0-1 mark in region play. The team will play in a tournament in Cherokee North Carolina over the winter student break and resume region play against Meadowcreek on January 3.
Basketball Region Standings as of December 14
Region 7-AAAAA Boys
Team Region Overall
Mill Creek 2-0 7-0
North Gwinnett 2-0 2-4
Norcross 1-0 1-4
Meadowcreek 1-1 1-3
Duluth 1-1 1-7
Peachtree Ridge 0-1 3-4
Mountain View 0-2 1-7
Collins Hill 0-2 0-7
Region 7-AAAAA Girls
Team Region Overall
Mountain View 2-0 7-1
North Gwinnett 2-0 3-1
Norcross 1-0 3-2
Duluth 1-1 6-2
Mill Creek 1-1 4-3
Peachtree Ridge 0-1 3-3
Collins Hill 0-2 3-4
Meadowcreek 0-2 1-3