Individual and team state championships in seven sports highlight the accomplishments of DeKalb student-athletes in 2011. Here is a look at some of the top sports stories of the year in the county.
McCrary reaches 500 wins
Long-time Columbia boys basketball coach Phil McCrary reached the 500-win milestone when the Eagles defeated Jamesville-Dewitt (N.Y.) 55-40 in the University of West Virginia Prime Time Shootout on Jan. 22. The Eagles have won state titles under McCrary’s direction in four of the past six seasons. McCrary has guided the Eagles to 12 state tournament appearances since taking over the program in 1988, including seven in a row. His teams have averaged more than 20 wins per season and from 2006-10 McCrary and the Eagles compiled a 150-14 record.
More than 100 players sign football grants
Columbia had a record-setting 15 football players sign scholarships during the early signing period in February. Stephenson, which set a record with 29 signees in 2010, had 20 players sign scholarships this year. Some of the top signees were Columbia’s Demarcus Sherrod (Oklahoma State); Tucker’s James Vaughters (Stanford), Chris Sanders (Georgia) and Justin Garrett (Auburn); Cedar Grove’s Vincent Dallas (Tennessee); M.L. King’s Demarco Robinson (Kentucky); Southwest DeKalb’s Terrance Smith (Florida State); and Kadetrix Marcus (South Carolina), Jared Boyd (Duke) and Willie Davis (South Florida) of Stephenson.
Marist girls win fifth straight state swimming title
The Marist girls won their fifth straight high school state swimming championship and three swimmers won individual state titles in February. Marist beat Westminster in the team standings and St. Pius was third. The War Eagles won the title without winning a single event. Haley Durmer of St. Pius won the 200 individual medley. In the boys meet, Lakeside’s Jack Lane set a state record in winning the 100 butterfly with a time of 48.72 seconds and he won the 200 freestyle. Also, Gunnar Bentz of St. Pius won the 100 breaststroke.
Two teams win state basketball titles
Columbia won its fourth Class AAA state title in the past six seasons and Miller Grove was crowned Class AAAA state champions for the third consecutive season. Columbia beat Butler 56-37. Miller Grove beat Rockdale County 67-59 with junior Tony Parker leading the way. Brandon Morris scored all 11 of his points in the second half for the Wolverines. Miller Grove finished with its best record in school history at 32-1. Columbia ended with a 30-3 record and defeated Butler 56-37 for the Class AAA title. Tahj Shamsid-Deen led the Eagles with 22 points against Butler and Jhaustin Thomas had 10 rebounds.
Eight basketball players reach 1,000 points
Eight DeKalb County public school seniors finished their careers last season with more than 1,000 points. Three juniors also reached the career milestone in 2011. Seniors Algie Key of Columbia and Jonathan Tinch of Stephenson reached 1,000 points, as did girls players Chamblee’s Jasmine Camp, Redan’s Aneesah Daniels and Kierra Paige, McNair’s Katrice Harris, M.L. King’s Keyonna Benton and Columbia’s Destinee Smith. Juniors Tony Parker of Miller Grove, and William Goodwin and Jordan Price of Southwest DeKalb, also reached the milestone last year.
County dominates state track meet
Three boys and eight girls won individual titles while M.L. King (AAAAA), Southwest DeKalb (AAAA) and Decatur (AA) each won girls team championships at state track meets last spring. It was M.L. King’s first team state title in any sport. For the boys, Tamaric Johnson of Stone Mountain won the 200 and 400 meter races, and Nikita Kirillov of St. Pius won the pole vault in Class AAA. James Dwyer of Dunwoody won the 800 in the Class AAAA meet. Also, Cedar Grove won the 4x100 and 4x400 relays in Class AAA. Two girls won multiple titles. M.L. King’s Jada Martin won both the 100 and 200 in Class AAAAA and Shunika Jarrells of Avondale won the 100 and 200 in Class AA. Other individual state champs were Morgan Snow, Southwest DeKalb (triple jump); Jalisa Terrells, M.L. King (high jump); Shelby Ashe (discus) and Erin Osment (3,200) St. Pius; Christian Pryor, Cedar Grove (800); and Ashley Reed, Decatur (triple jump).
St. Pius earns boys and girls soccer titles
St. Pius in May won both the boys and girls Class AAA soccer titles for the second time in the past three seasons. Playing a double-header at home, the girls beat Woodward Academy 4-0 then the boys beat Woodward Academy 5-4. Tiffany Rodriguez, Diana Solaga, Kelsey Keown and Kaitlyn Orman each scored a goal as the girls won their third straight state championship. It was their eighth shutout of the season and the 15th straight shutout in the playoffs over the past three years. The boys rallied from a 2-0 deficit to avenge a 2010 loss to Woodward in the state semifinals. Tyler Alexander scored two goals while Alex Kowalski, Sam Bonnie and Drew Morgan each scored one for the Golden Lions.
Marist wins 12th state baseball championship
Marist swept Whitewater 11-5 and 8-1 to win its second straight Class AAAA state baseball championship and 12th in school history. In the second game, pitcher Brandon Liebrandt struck out 10 and allowed six hits in six innings. Liebrandt finished the season 12-0. Offensively, Kevin Gale went 4-for-6 in the series with two home runs and five RBIs. He was 3-for-3 in Game 2 with a three-run homer in the fifth inning that put the game out of reach. Georges Durot also hit a home run and a grand slam in Game 2 that put the War Eagles ahead 5-0 in the second inning. Marist finished the season 34-3, marking the third straight season with at least 29 wins.
Athletic scholarships surpasse $14 million
Nearly 200 DeKalb County public school students received more than $14 million in athletic scholarships for the 2010-11 school year. Football led with 117 athletes receiving scholarships totaling more than $9.3 million. Football accounted for 64.7 percent of the scholarship amounts awarded for 2011. Basketball, which had 26 signees reported at a total of $2.37 million, was the next largest percentage. Stephenson had 22 football signees with scholarship totals reaching $2.54 million. Stephenson’s total for athletic scholarships was $2.94 million. Martin Luther King Jr. was second on the list with $1.55 million in signed scholarships, followed by Chamblee ($1.07 million) and Miller Grove ($1.02 million).
Five players chosen in pro basketball drafts
Chris Singleton (Dunwoody), Marshon Brooks (Tucker), Andrew Goudelock (Stone Mountain) and Travis Leslie (Columbia) were chosen in the 2011 NBA draft. In the first round Singleton, who played at Florida State, was taken by the Washington Wizards and Brooks (Providence College) was drafted by the Boston Celtics and traded to the New Jersey Nets. In the second round, Goudelock (College of Charleston) went to the Los Angeles Lakers and Leslie (Georgia) was picked by the Los Angeles Clippers. Also, former Redan and Georgia star Porsha Phillips became the first DeKalb female player to be chosen in the WNBA draft.
St. Pius wins second straight cross country title
The St. Pius boys won their second straight Class AAA state cross country championship with five runners placing among the top 27. Two runners placed in the top 10—Austin Sprague placed third overall with a time of 16:05.09 for the Golden Lions while Calvin Tirrell was seventh in 16:34.23.
Tucker wins Class AAAA state football title
Tucker beat Lovejoy 22-7 on Dec. 9 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to win the Class AAAA state football title. The Tigers, who finished 15-0 for the first time in school history, also won state in 2008. Jordan Landry led the offense with 199 yards rushing and a touchdown. Yusuf Minor and Dallas Rivers also ran for touchdowns. The 22 points scored on the Wildcats were the most in a single game all season. Tucker gained 258 yards on the ground and held Lovejoy to 197 yards in total offense.