Walnut Grove Invitational
Day 2 | December 22, 2022

game recaps

Mt. Paran Christian 68
Woodward Academy 63

It was an instant classic between Woodward Academy and Mt. Paran Christian on December 22, 2022 during the Walnut Grove Invitational. Image by PopscoutHoops

Don’t let the classification fool you.  The Mt. Paran Christian girls basketball team is legit.  They’re off to a 10-0 start after defeating Woodward Academy 68-63 in what was a coaches clinic in terms of making in game adjustments to pull out the win.  Woodward is special nontheless, employing a smothering man to man defense, from baseline to baseline, forcing opponents to be sharp with their passes and decision making.  Most of the teams that we’ve seen this season, if things are not working, continue to go done that path of no return, piling up turnovers after turnovers, refusing to make adjustments and counter what the defense is throwing at them. Or maybe they just don’t have the skill-sets (or mental toughness) to get it done. 

Mt. Paran Christian girls head coach Stephanie Dunn draws something up during a timeout of the 2022 Walnut Grove Invitational. Coach’s ability to make in-game adjustments on the fly, proved to be the deciding factor in the win over Woodward Academy. Image by Popscout

Whatever the case may be, It was refreshing to see Mt. Paran’s head coach Stephanie Dunn go in her bag.  She recognized that Woodward lacks the size inside to stop them so she focused her attention on entry passes and scoring from the box.  The results were instant.  The Eagles pounded the rock inside getting solid production from 5’11 Jr. SF Ciara Alexander as well as 6’1 So. SF Jessica Fields.  At the end of the day, it was a tuff’  victory for the Eagles over a well coached Woodward squad.  Woodward made some mental mistakes down the stretch, ultimately costing them the dub.  Talk about having some pieces on their roster, we didn’t see any cracks in Woodward’s armor – except for a lack of size.  They have hoopers that can get it done. By the looks of it and the character of their team, they’ll get in the lab and develop that mindset to concentrate for a full 32 minutes.  This one was an instant classic.

2024 Ciara Alexander (32) was special during their win over Woodward Academy. She will be a probelm as the season progresses. Image by Popscout.

Norcross 51
Harrison 45

2023 Veronaye Charlton proving why she's in the conversation as one of the premier PG''s from the class of 2023. Image by Popscout.

On paper, Harrison didn’t pose too much of a threat going into their match-up against Norcross during day 2 of the Walnut Grove Invitational.  Harrison was 3-7 coming into the game and Norcross, coming off a 7A State Championship, was 9-1, riding a three-game winning streak after their loss against Lovejoy (12/10).  The Harrison Hoyas proved that their current win-lose record is misleading. They can play with the best of them.  Norcross was fortunate to pull this one out, with the final score not being a true indicator of how close the outcome really was.  On a poor shooting night from their talented 2024 CG Jania Atkins, the Blue Devils missed lay ups after layups. To be honest, it didn’t look good for them going down the stretch.  Harrison matched their intensity at every opportunity, capitalizing off of Norcross’ inability to finish around the rim.  Jania eventually found her niche, scoring a couple of wet balls during the 4th quarter and 5’4 2023 PG Veronye Charlton chipped in crucial 3pt. bombs to eventually weather the storm, avoiding the upset loss.  Another nail-biter that came down to the wire, where determination, coaching, and the willingness to execute and make buckets, were the deciding factors in who walked away with the win. 

2024 Jania Akins can score from all three levels as she displays her mid-range game. Image by Popscout.

Southwest Dekalb 49
Grovetown 42

2025 Janiyah McCoy surveys the floor dirng the 2022 Walnut Grove Invitational. Image by Popscout.

Keep an eye out on South West DeKalb and their young roster.  Although they aren’t being mentioned as one of the premier teams this season, their youth looks promising. Having no seniors on their roster and a slew of Sophomores and Freshman, we love what we see from this young group of hoopers and their potential.  If everyone stays put and doesn’t jump ship, they will make some serious noise in 2023-24 and 2024-25.  They were able to get past Grovetown who lacks the personnel this season to get it done on a high level.  On day one, SWD almost came away with the win over Elbert County, losing 51-48.  Elbert County showed pose down the stretch as well as having one of if not the best bench in GHSA girls hoops in terms of cheering for their team and providing that 6 man support.  We would like for SWD’s coaching staff to be a bit more patient, implement more schemes and looks, as well as stay positive with this talented young group.  We think you guys have something special fam’.

2025 Jah'naesia Spiers looks to become special as she manuevers around two defenders. Image by Popscout.

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