GRAY, Ga. — Two local state champions met on the basketball court Thursday.
The boys hoops teams from Baldwin High School and John Milledge Academy, both about three months removed from having won their state titles, were two of nine area teams that traveled to the sweltering Jones County High School gym for a day of summer scrimmages.
Calling the afternoon Braves-Trojans matchup a “clash of the champions” would be a bit of a misnomer seeing as how both teams have lost their Class of 2021 seniors to graduation, but it was still good to see the teams out on the court together. The game between the two local squads was the first of three scheduled for them throughout the day. They both also later faced teams from Hancock and Washington counties.
After having trailed for a few minutes early, Baldwin came back and held the lead the rest of the way to win the low-scoring bout versus JMA, 44-35. The Braves threatened to make it a blowout on a few occasions, but the Trojans always found a way to reel the score back in a little.
Thursday was the first time BHS head coach Anthony Webb had his players all together this summer. They played disorganized and sluggish at times, especially early in that first scrimmage, but showed flashes of what should be another strong squad come the 2021-22 season. Webb substituted heavily in order to get multiple guys meaningful minutes.
“I just want the guys to get better,” the BHS head coach said on what he wants to see from his team during summer play. “Some guys got a bit of playing time last year, but they didn’t get a whole lot of quality playing time because most of the time the game was out of reach. These games will help them get their confidence level up.”
Webb got strong play out of returning contributors Jacobi Nixon, Rudolph Satcher and Shatavious Hogan as well as Lataevion Roach and Tremarius Lawrence. One other expected difference-maker also put together a strong scrimmage versus JMA, rising junior Christian Burnett. Burnett played his freshman season at GMC Prep then transferred to Baldwin last year, but a knee injury kept him off the court. He looked as though he had healed up nicely Thursday and should be in even better shape come November.
“He’s fitting in fine,” said Webb. “He’s played with all these kids before anyway, so they know each others’ game. I know he’ll be fine offensively. I’m watching him defensively to see how he moves.”
John Milledge’s head coach David Gallagher was without one possible starter Thursday, but did have his core of Marcus Prestwood along with Banks and Briggs Eady. Like Coach Webb, Gallagher is sharing multiple guys with the football program as they go through summer workouts this month also.
“The biggest thing is the opportunity for teammates to earn trust in one another and seeing who’s going to fill those voids left behind by the seniors from last year,” said Gallagher.
Thursday ended the first of three planned weeks of practices and scrimmages for the Trojans this summer. The finale comes June 23 when Baldwin is set to host eight teams, including both John Milledge and GMC Prep, inside James A. Lunsford Gymnasium.