Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lakeview Academy hoping to get a charge from Pitts’ return

Evan Pitts wasn’t Lakeview Academy’s leading scorer last year, or leading rebounder. But the Lions were certainly glad to get him back last week.

The 6-foot-4 forward, who missed the team’s first several games after breaking his hand playing football, brings scrappiness, which the Lions used in their drive the Class A Private semifinals last season. According to Lakeview coach Todd Cottrell, Pitts drew 47 charges in the Lions’ 31 games, 1.5 per game.

He undoubtedly changed the course of a few games last year just by stepping in front of an opposing player who had the ball, or by standing his ground and accepting contact in the post.

“It’s something we work on every day in practice,” Pitts said. “It’s something I bring to the table on the team. I take it pretty seriously.”

Cottrell said there are similarities between taking charges and rebounding; both require a grind-it-out mentality and court awareness. In practice, the players are taught how to absorb the collision and how to fall in such a way to minimize the chance of injuries. The Gainesville private school doesn’t feature a lot of tall players. Pitts is one of the taller ones, and Cottrell said he’s probably playing out of position.

“That’s one of the most unselfish plays in basketball to stand in there and take charges,” said Cottrell, whose club closed its pre-Christmas schedule with three straight wins. “I think every coach teaches it early in the year the proper technique. It’s a skill. You can teach it all you want to, but the player has to want to.”

Pitts said his knack for drawing offensive fouls comes from being aware of where the ball is while continuing to guard his man. Other than that, no special preparation.

“It’s just stand there like a wall “get big” and then take the hit,” said Pitts, explaining that getting big means taking a wide stance and taking up as much space as possible.

44 AND COUNTING: Upson-Lee figured to get tested in the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Florida, but it didn’t mean the Knights had to lose a game. Upson-Lee won both of its games and the Signature Series Championship. In the final, Tye Fagan scored 34 points while Travon Walker scored 12 and collected 21 rebounds as the team from Thomaston extended its winning streak to 44 games by beating Corbin (Kentucky) in the final.

FLIPPING THE CALENDAR: The Alpharetta girls suffered their first loss on Dec. 18 against Centennial, but finished 2017 with three wins to capture the New Manchester Christmas Tournament championship. The Raiders (12-1)

NORCROSS REBOUNDS: The Norcross boys bounced back from a loss to Lakeside-DeKalb by beating Holy Spirit Prep in the Hawks-Naismith Classic Saturday, a game that included this dunk.

CROWDED FIELD: The Class 1-AAAA girls race is shaping up to be a heated one. Westover and Carver are both unbeaten while Americus-Sumter is 9-1. Carver is already 5-0 in region play, while Americus-Sumter, Westover and Cairo are all 2-0. And then there’s defending state champion Columbus, which is 6-7 overall and 2-2 in region play.

Carver, which lost by a point in the state championship in March, flipped the result in their first meeting on Dec. 19, winning 69-39.

SUPER COOPER: Sharife Cooper 26 points in the McEachern’s 71-63 loss to Fort Lauderdale-University High School in the finals of the City of Palms Classic Traditional Bracket. A battle between two nationally ranked teams, it was the Indians’ first loss. Cooper finished the tournament with 99 points in three games.

SMALL MEASURE OF PAYBACK: In the Hawks-Naismith Classic at Norcross High School Saturday, the Newton beat Tift County 57-45, avenging its loss to Tift in last year’s state quarterfinals.

COACHES: To report your scores, contact Score Altanta. They accept results multiple ways.

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