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MCDONOUGH — November 8th was the final day to vote for the next President of the United States and the only time the Henry County boys basketball teams would state their expectations in the same place during Media Day for the 2016-17 season before the competition begins later this month.
Last season, Eagle’s Landing (24-5 overall), Henry County (15-11), Stockbridge (14-10) and Woodland (14-10) all finished with a larger number in the win column but the Golden Eagles were the only team to advance to the postseason even though their stay was short.
In a realigned Region 4-AAAAA, Eagle’s Landing’s coach Elliott Montgomery will have two of his top scorers back from last season in junior Tarrence Evans (10.2 ppg) and sophomore Christopher Hood (7.8).
“We are excited to play Eagle’s Landing,” Stockbridge coach Rodney Latham said. “[Elliott] is a good friend of mine. They will be one of the teams to beat in our region.”
Based on returning talent and their previous record, the Wolfpack may have a chance to challenge Eagle’s Landing for the region’s top spot. Coach James “Bull” Martin has junior Jaylyn Clark (9.2) back in uniform and senior Ben Ross but the rest of the players are new additions to the team.
Latham’s roster will be similar to Martin’s since the Tigers will have four new starters to play alongside 6-6 junior Kavante Ivery, who averaged 11 points a game last season. Latham said the goal is to still win 18 to 20 games, the region title and return to the playoffs but the cohesion between his players will have to be solved early.
“Team chemistry will be our biggest challenge this season,” Latham said. “We are going to do things like team-building activities off the court because if you are close off the court then you will be good on the court. Once we get that timing down, we will be fine.”
Dutchtown (11-15), Hampton (0-26), Locust Grove (9-17), Ola (3-20), Union Grove (9-16) and Jones County (16-13) are also members of Region 4-AAAAA, which could also be referred to as the “Henry County” region since 89 percent of the teams are within the county lines.
“When you have a region like that every game is going to be a fight because everybody knows each other,” Latham said. “It should be a competitive region. Night in and night out you got to play because you never know what is going to happen.”
Now to the three guys pictured above (Javon Greene, Damion Rosser and Kovi Tate) who plan to lead the Warhawks back to the postseason before moving on to basketball on the collegiate level.
“They are not just called the Big 3 because of talent but these are our top three leaders on the team,” Henry County boys assistant coach and girls head coach Jason Harris said. “These three are the core of what we do.”
Rosser, a 6-4 wing player, and Greene, who is a 6-2 guard, will have the chance to play alongside Tate against other opponents since the 6-6 forward/center was only allowed to practice with team last season after transferring from Woodland.
“Going to the state championship is our main goal,” Rosser said. “I’ve been wanting that since I came to high school and we haven’t got there but that is our plan this year.”
“I know we are trying to get to state so I’m excited for this season,” Tate said. “I hope we can make a deep run in the state playoffs.”
Unlike the rest of the teams in Henry County, the Warhawks will only have region games against county neighbor Luella (8-16) in Region 4-AAAA, which consists of a number of teams from different counties.
“We got to come play every single night,” Rosser said. “North Clayton is a very good team. That will probably be the toughest team we play but we can’t take any of the teams lightly.”
For Rosser, who plans to sign with the University of New Orleans, this season will be the last of which he plays for his father, Vincent Rosser.
“It’s going to be special,” Damion Rosser said. “When we watched the last few state championship games, we always wished that was us. If that happens, that is going to be special. Either way this season goes, it will be special playing for my dad one last time.”
Greene will sign with George Mason on November 11 and Tate said he is considering an offer from the University of Tampa.