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Today, we look at the upcoming Georgia Elite Classic by focusing on some of the biggest names playing in the junior game. We also continue our Holiday Hoops coverage with Kyle Sandy's recap from South Atlanta's win at the Peach State Classic. 

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Class of 2018 set to shine at Georgia Elite Classic

Stars align on Thursday, December 29 as the state's top juniors from across Georgia travel to Walter H. Cantrell Stadium at McEachern High School in Powder Springs to test their skills at the Elite Junior Classic. Handpicked from all over the Peach State, talent will be aplenty as scouts keep an eye on what transpires.
Players such as Texas A&M-commit Cade Fortin, four-star tight end Tyneil Hopper and state champion Terrick Small Jr. will all take the field. Known commodities to those on the verge of breaking out, storylines will be fruitful.
Fortin enters the event as the most accomplished passer. After being pressed into duty at North Gwinnett as a sophomore, the following offseason Fortin's stock exploded and he parlayed it into Texas A&M verbal on August 15. He proceeded to see his play on the field improve from the 2015 season, throwing for 1,841 yards, 16 touchdowns and three interceptions this year.
Fortin will split snaps under center for the National Team with Mike Barrett of Lowndes, who threw for 2,753 yards and 27 touchdowns in his own right. Both will have a pair of Parkview receivers to get the ball to in Miles Marshall and Justin Long. Marshall caught 47 passes for 773 yards and nine scores while Long added 43 for 557 yards and five touchdowns. Both know firsthand about Barrett's abilities as Lowndes beat the Panthers 35-34 this year with Barrett throwing for 287 yards and rushing for 63.
Speaking of rushing, the American Team will have a strong stable of backs with Dante Black (Brookwood), Clay Harris (Norcross) and Nolan Edmonds (Alpharetta). Edmonds is a three-star back that rushed for 647 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games while Black and Harris are both versatile out of the backfield.
Griffin Collier (Tift County) and Cameron Lewis (Eagle's Landing) quarterback the American Team and both will have Hopper available to throw to. The versatile pass catcher can play all over the field and caught three touchdowns for Roswell this season.
Defensively, Norcross' Nazir Sy is a terror along the line. The defensive tackle tallied 50 stops, eight sacks and 16 tackles for a loss. He joins defensive ends Sean Smith (Lamar County), Caleb Washington (North Atlanta) and Kingsley Enagbare (Peachtree Ridge) who will all be bringing pressure and challenging the National Team's trenches which features the likes of John Harris (Mill Creek), Griffin McDowell (Lee County) and Jalen Goss (Lowndes County).

By Kyle Sandy

South Atlanta closes out Eagle's Landing
The finals of the Peach State Classic Championship featured Class AA No. 1 South Atlanta (12-1) and Class AAAAA No. 2 Eagle's Landing (8-2). Both teams fought their way to the title game by knocking off ranked teams throughout their path. South Atlanta opened up a quick 8-2 lead behind two Devonta Pullins threes and raced out to a 20-10 lead after one. The Hornets used an active defense and 10 of Pullins' 13 points on the night to get off on the right foot.
A reason for the Eagles' slow start was that 6-foot-8 North Carolina A&T-commit Mohammed Abubukar didn't touch the ball in the opening eight minutes.
Photo by Kyle Sandy
In the second quarter Coach Elliott Montgomery and the Eagles made it a point to get him the ball. On the first possession of the quarter, Abubukar earned a trip to the line and sank both free throws.
The inside-outside duo of Abubukar and Brandon Thomas helped Eagle's Landing weather South Atlanta's early scoring storm. Thomas drilled a three to make it 28-19 at the three minute mark and with 1:42 left it was 30-21.
Right before the half, the Eagles got the ball to Abubukar again and he was able to convert to make it 32-24 with the Hornets still on top.
South Atlanta stepped on the gas to begin the third quarter, using a 7-0 spurt keyed by Pullins' third triple of the game and Tyler Thornton inside to regain a commanding 39-24 lead.
With the game starting to slip away Abubukar sparked the Eagles, powering a 9-0 run highlighted by the big man collecting a steal and going coast-to-coast for a tough lay-in. Thomas drained another three to make it 39-33 with 2:27 left in the third.

Abubukar drove for a dunk and then completed an And-1 to cut the lead to five, but the Hornets ran off the final 50 seconds of the clock and received a Dondre Barnes layup to head into the fourth up 45-38.
The Eagles' surge continued in the final quarter, using a 7-2 run to close the lead to 47-45 at the 6:21 mark when Tarrence Evans scored his first two points from the line. With Eagle's Landing in finally striking distance, the Hornets responded and made sure it would be as close as the Eagles were able to claw within.

South Atlanta ripped off a 14-2 streak over the final six-plus minutes to seal the game. It began with Barnes nailing a three and Jalen Stegall adding a jumper. Thornton capped South Atlanta's 12 unanswered points with a one-handed jam to put the exclamation point on the championship.


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