ALBANY -- Marquis Davis says it all the time. It's his mantra, a motto for all the players on his Monroe High boys basketball team.
"We always say, 'Defend what you
have,' " said Davis, whose team is 16-0.
Now the Tornadoes have a little more to defend. Monroe, which was tied for ninth in the Class AAA state poll when the lone preseason rankings were released by the Georgia Sportswriters Association in November, has moved all the way up No. 3 in the latest GSWA poll released Thursday.
"As far as I can remember, I don't think Monroe has ever been ranked that high,'' Davis said.
Davis then added: "It's a good thing for our team and for our school to be ranked that high with all the tough AAA teams in the state of Georgia. It's one of the things that you work hard for -- to be the best.''
Defending state champ South Atlanta is the No. 1 ranked boys AAA team, followed by Liberty County and Monroe, which did receive one first place vote.
Herald No. 2 Westover (15-1), which has only lost to Monroe, was ranked fifth in the AAA poll, and Herald No. 4 Terrell County's boys team was ranked No. 9 in the A poll. Herald No. 3 Bainbridge was not ranked in Class AAAA, but did receive one vote.
Herald No. 2 Randolph-Clay was the area's top-ranked girls team as The Lady Red Devils came in ranked fourth in the A poll. Herald No. 1 Bainbridge, meanwhile, is ranked ninth in the girls AAAA poll. Herald No. 4 Lee County received five votes but was not ranked in the Top 10 of the AAAA poll, and Herald No. 3 Westover received one vote in the AAA girls poll.
Many coaches worry about being ranked high, because of the fear their players will become conceited, but Davis sees the ranking as a positive. The Tornadoes are The Herald's No. 1 team in Southwest Georgia, but they haven't let that title hurt their season.
"Anytime you are recognized by your county or by the state, it's good,'' Davis said. "We always say 'Defend what you have.' We were named the No. 1 team in Southwest Georgia at the beginning of the year, and we've been rolling on that all year. When you're No. 1 you want to defend that, and we've defended it all year.''