PREP HOOP NOTES: Shiloh boys lead charge in rugged Region 8-AAAAA schedule

The Shiloh boys resume Region 8-AAAAA play with three games this week, giving the Generals five games over nine days.

You certainly won't hear coach Kim Rivers complaining about the game-heavy schedule, though. He's happy to be playing regularly again after an over-long Christmas break.

"The two-week layoff really hurt us," Rivers said. "We were playing well before the break and the time off messed up our momentum."

Shiloh was ranked No. 2 before beating No. 1 Wheeler on Dec. 17 and seemed assured of moving up to the top spot in the GACA poll for Ga.PrepCountry.com. The Generals still may, but their unbeaten season ended with a loss to Alabama power Carver of Montgomery in their return to the court Friday.

"We didn't play very well at all," said Rivers, whose team lost 74-57 despite 31 points from 6-foot-8 Georgia Tech signee Robert Carter. "We didn't look like the same team that had played Wheeler."

Shiloh (8-1) bounced back to defeat Rockdale County 87-77 on Saturday night in the final game of the Hoops In Overdrive event at Centennial, but it was still an uneven performance.

Down 13-9 near the midway point of the first quarter, the Generals got their running game going and raced off to a 51-35 halftime lead. They stagnated again over parts of the second half, though.

"We're only about 70 percent of where we can be," said Rivers, whose team is still searching for continuity and consistence after adding touted transfers Carter and Trayvon Reed, a 7-foot sophomore.

Senior guard Jordan Gaither, the only returning starter from last season, had 20 points in the victory over Rockdale, while Carter and Reed each scored 14. The Generals had 11 players score.

At 4-0 in region action, Shiloh is the only unbeaten team in loaded 8-AAAAA. But Archer (4-1), Berkmar (4-1) and Central Gwinnett (3-1) all have just one defeat.

"There are at least four or five teams fighting for first place," Rivers said. "This is definitely the toughest the region has been since I came to Shiloh. Top to bottom, you can't count anyone out."

That was proven the past two seasons, with favorite South Gwinnett knocked off in the region tournament by building Berkmar in 2010 and second-year Archer last season. Now Berkmar and Archer are both part of the region elite.

The big showdown in 8-AAAAA tonight has Archer (8-4 overall) at Central Gwinnett (8-3). Shiloh has beaten Berkmar and Archer, but doesn't play Central for the first time until Jan. 10.

Shiloh's biggest challenge this week is a game at South Gwinnett on Saturday. The Generals host Brookwood tonight and are at Parkview on Friday.

Wesleyan girls continue tough schedule

The Wesleyan girls played some of the top teams in the nation while going 2-2 in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona before Christmas. But the Wolves' first game since that trip is hardly an easy assignment either.

Wesleyan, 9-2 and ranked No. 1 in Class A, plays tonight at St. Pius, which is 10-1 and ranked No. 2 in Class AAA. The Lions were unbeaten until falling 47-46 to Oakland Catholic of Pennsylvania on Thursday in the title game of the St. Pius tournament.

Wesleyan, which has won four straight state titles and eight in the past 10 years, always plays the toughest schedule coach Jan Azar can put together. Remaining are games against Oak Hill of Virginia at Wesleyan on Jan. 14 in the Battle of the Southeast and Bob Jones of Alabama at Starr's Mill on Jan. 21.

Norcross girls hope to build off tourney title

The Norcross girls, two-time defending Class AAAAA state champions, showed just how good they can be with a tourney title in the Crescent Bank Invitational at Myrtle Beach before Christmas, knocking off highly ranked South Carolina power Spring Valley in the championship game.

But the Blue Devils (8-2) will remain No. 2 in the state coaches poll behind 2011 state runner-up McEachern, which is having a dominant season. The Indians are 12-0 after defeating Tennessee power Riverdale 84-73 in the title game of the top division of the JumpOffPlus.com Invitational at Holy Innocents' last week.

Norcross, which returns to Region 7-AAAAA play tonight at Mountain View, will play Riverdale on Jan. 14 as part of the Battle of the Southeast at Wesleyan. McEachern pulled away late to win 55-43 in the opening game of the season Nov. 16 at Norcross. The Blue Devils' other loss was to nationally ranked Hoover of Alabama on Dec. 3.