PREP HOOPS NOTEBOOK: Monroe, Colquitt County sibling rivalry highlights big weekend in prep hoops

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Kirven Davis doesn't like losing.

Especially to his baby bro.

But so far, Davis, who coaches Colquitt County, is 0-5 against his younger sibling, Marquis Davis, the head coach at Monroe.

Yet, on Saturday night in Albany, Kirven's Packers will have yet another shot to right that ship.

"We're sitting here together right now -- but we're just trying not to talk about (the game)," Kirven told The Herald earlier this week as he and Marquis watched hoops together. "We're both preparing like we would any other game. I just hope we come out on the right end this time. The last one was a nail-biter."

The "last one" Kirven refers to happened less than a week ago on Saturday night in Moultrie -- a wild contest the Tornadoes won, 56-52, in double overtime. Although, the Packers were missing four starters that are still playing on the football team, which is still alive in the Class AAAAA state playoffs. It should also be noted that Monroe was without star Robert Arnold, who Marquis sat for one game after Arnold missed practice earlier in the week.

As for the tight ending to the game, Kirven said down the stretch, he and Marquis were making adjustments left and right in an effort to counter each other's coaching moves.

After all, both know one another's coaching style better than their average opponent.

"Oh, yeah -- we made some moves. They went up eight at one point and we made some defensive adjustments and cut (the lead) down and went ahead, then he went to a full-court press and forced us into some mistakes," Kirven said. "It was like a chess match."

Monroe also won both games last season and the season before, giving Marquis the decided edge in the early going of the rivalry.

"It was nice, man. But it was a tough game and unfortunately, someone has to lose," Marquis said of the win by the Tornadoes, who are undefeated at 3-0 and started the season ranked No. 1 in The Herald's Top 5 Poll. "But Saturday is the last time we'll play each other this year. And while it's a family rivalry (between us), for sure, it's really about the players. We're both just trying to get our teams better before (the region schedule starts in January)."

Another story line that emerged from the game was the play of Monroe junior Theodore Hosley and sophomore Rontavious Gilbert, both of whom haven't gotten anywhere near much recognition as teammates Arnold and fellow Herald Super 6 selection, Brandon Johnson. But with Arnold suspended for a game and Johnson nursing a knee injury that won't allow him to return until January, Hosley stepped up in a big way, leading all Tornadoes scorers with 20 points, while Gilbert blocked an impressive 14 Colquitt shots.

"(Theodore) is one of my bench guys, but when some of the starters got in foul trouble, he came in and had a big game," Marquis said. "And Rontavious ... what can you say? Fourteen blocks is a lot."

Colquitt, meanwhile, dropped to 0-2 after the loss that came on the heels of a season-opening defeat to Worth County.



Another interesting area matchup Saturday night won't involve two relatives, but rather two coaches who are more than relatively familiar with one another.

First-year Americus-Sumter boys coach Michael Coley took over for Panthers coach Robert Cotton Jr. this season -- after serving as an assistant under Cotton -- when Cotton opted to leave for the head coaching job at nearby Crisp County.

And on Saturday night, they meet for the first time.

"You could say I've been thinking about it some; that it's been in the back of my mind," Coley said earlier this week. "But right now, I'm trying to keep my players -- and myself -- focused a big week in front of us before we even get to Crisp on Saturday."

That big week started off on the right foot the Panthers on Tuesday when Americus-Sumter toppled Dougherty, 66-54, behind 15 points from Tyler Moore. It was Coley's second win as a head coach after starting the year 0-2. And before crisp on Saturday, the Panthers will have to face Terrell County, which reached the Class A Final Four last season.

After that, Coley said, he'll have time to focus his full attention on beating his former mentor.

"We've remained friends and we've had a couple of conversations since he left, but we're also both really busy," Coley said. "I'm sure we'll have a second or two to catch up before the game, though."

Cotton, meanwhile, started out 0-1 at Crisp County, losing to Coffee County in a Thanksgiving tournament, before winning his first game with the Cougars on Tuesday night against Turner County.

Cotton told The Herald on Monday that he's looking forward to Saturday night for two reasons: facing his good friend Coley, while also getting a chance to go back to his former stomping ground in Americus and eat at one of his favorite restaurants, Amelia's, which is located in the Historic Windsor Hotel.

"It's gonna be a good one, man. I think I left the team in good shape and he's doing a good job over there with those guys and I can't wait to come back and see how far they've come," Cotton said. "Of course, I can't come back to Americus without going to the Windsor. Got to have some dinner while I'm town."

Now in his new town of Cordele, Cotton said he sees the Cougars as a work in progress. But one that he doesn't think will take long to find success.

"I've got an up-tempo style of game that I am trying to coach and I believe in defense before anything else, so they've just to got get adjusted to what I'm looking for; my personality, things like that," Cotton said. "We've got talent, for sure. And as long as I can motivate these kids and get them to self-motivate themselves, we're gonna be all right."



In just the third year under Lady Trojans coach Fran McPherson, the Lee County girls seem to be headed in the right direction.

Making their first appearance in The Herald's Top 5 poll at No. 3 was a big jump for a team that went 8-17 last season, as well as the season before.

But this year, the Lady Trojans jumped up to a fast start, going 5-0 before losing their first game to Washington County in its Thanksgiving tournament. Though, Lee would bounce right back, beating Warren County the next day behind 27 points from Lindsey Crawford.

And McPherson makes no bones about why her team is having so much success early on: Crawford, the 6-foot-1, senior center, hadn't scored fewer than 20 points a game in the first six before a 58-55 loss to Westover on Tuesday night. Crawford finished with 17, while DeQuenna Moore added 14.

"She's just playing right now," McPherson said recently of Crawford, who is averaging 22.4 points a game. "Playing hard, motivating her teammates. It's just what we need."

Lee County gets back into action Friday when it hosts Worth County at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Lee County boys team, coached by McPherson's husband, Tim, still is winless on the year at 0-4, but will get another chance to get on the board Friday when the Rams travel to Leesburg. Their game will start immediately after the girls.



In Eagles boys coach Rundy Foster's case, good things might just come to those who wait.

Foster's bunch played their first game of the season Tuesday night -- a 52-31 stomping of Tiftarea -- though it came a solid week behind most of the other area GISA programs.

That's primarily because Terrell, which belongs GISA Class A -- the smallest classification in the private school sector -- had to wait for many of its football players to finish the recently completed season before it even had enough to field a team.

Of course, the wait was worth it as the Eagles won their second consecutive state football championship with a win against Thomas Jefferson -- the same team they beat last year for the title.

"Three of the four guys who came up big fpr us against Tiftarea had been playing football, so you can see why it was important to get them back," said Foster of Riley Davis (19 points), Nick Beaver and Jonathan Farr (eight rebounds apiece). "Clay Willis, who scored 13 points, didn't play football, but Caleb White, who had six assists, did. So we needed to (wait the football season) out for those guys."

And while Foster says it's too early to start thinking about a state title in basketball to go along with the one in football, he was high on this year's team after a 15-9 season in 2008.

"This group is just more cohesive than I've had in the past; they play a lot more together and really have that not-wanting-to-ever-lose attitude," Foster said. "We were ahead, 26-13, at halftime against Tiftarea, (and never looked back.) It was just a good effort."

Noticeably absent from those football-turned-basketball-player names that were mentioned were the Eagles' two Coles: Cole Phillips, star quarterback, and Cole Byrd, Terrell's star running back.

However, neither play basketball, said Foster.

"They're great athletes, no doubt, he said. "But I think they're just focused on (their futures) in football right now."

The defending Class A champ TAE girls, meanwhile, lost to Tiftarea, 67-44, in the earlier game Tuesday and fell to 1-3 on the season.

Both teams get back in action Friday when Brookwood comes to town. The girls game begins at 6 p.m., immediately followed by the boys game.