After enrolling at Westover for his senior season, Southwest Georgia Academy standout McKinley Chambless missed playing for the Warriors and returned to SGA. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
DAMASCUS — Southwest Georgia Academy boys basketball coach David Byrne received an early present last month. Before his Warriors entered the Christmas break, he learned his star player — McKinley Chambless — was coming back.
Chambless had enrolled at Westover High School for his senior season and figured he could get more college exposure playing for the state-ranked and Herald No. 1 Patriots.
While the senior enjoyed his time, he missed the comforts of SGA, where he had attended since eighth-grade. Byrne said anytime Westover was off, Chambless found his way to Damascus, site of SGA’s campus.
“Westover is a great school and a lot of the players there were awesome to play with,” Chambless said. “But there is something about Damascus where the school felt like family. I missed that, so I figured I’d come back and be with family and friends.”
Byrne couldn’t have been happier. Chambless played a major role in helping the Warriors make the GISA Class AA state tournament last season. His move makes the Warriors instant contenders again.
“When you lose 20 points from your lineup and someone who has been with you since eighth-grade, it’s tough to see them leave,” Byrne said. “But that was a decision he and his family made. I’m just glad to see him back.”
In the four games Chambless has been back with the Warriors, he’s averaging 22 points per game.
As far as college is concerned, he has some Division III schools interested but nothing official.
“I think I’m going to go play at a junior college and then transfer up,” he said. “I still want to play at the next level.”
SEPARATING THE PACK: Four Region 1-AAAA girls teams have virtually separated themselves at the top from the remainder of the schools as the half-way point in the schedule concludes this weekend.
First-place Monroe continues to lead with an unbeaten record of 6-0. Dougherty, whose only loss was to Monroe in the first game of the season, is second with a 4-1 region record.
Crisp County is third with a half-game lead over fourth-place Westover.
Tonight, Monroe visits Worth County, Crisp County plays host to Americus-Sumter, and Westover hosts Dougherty.
Then on Saturday, Dougherty meets Albany, while Westover plays Monroe.
While all teams will still have seven more region games after this weekend, the standings will be impacted. Westover coach Lewis Smith knows this weekend is an excellent chance for his Lady Patriots to move up.
“We’ve got to play good defense inside, then make a lot of shots where our girls can get a little bit of confidence,” Smith said. “It’s going to take a complete team effort. That is what it takes to win those kinds of games.”
STILL UNBEATEN: Calhoun County coach Marcus Shaw likes the improvement he has seen as his Cougars remain as the area’s last undefeated team. While Calhoun sits atop the Region 1-A (A) sub-region standings with Stewart County, the Cougars and Randolph-Clay are considered the sub-region favorites.
The two schools meet on Jan. 17 in Cuthbert.