Johnson High School Smashing in Groves Regular Season Finale, Secure State Berth!

By Nathan Dominitz Special to Prep Sports Report | February 10, 2024

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Sol C. Johnson High School boys were victorious Friday night in the Atomsmashers’ regular-season finale, a 72-54 home victory over region opponent Groves High School. 


It was a competitive game to watch, as Groves (12-13, 9-5 region) entered the night tied for first place with Johnson, Long County and Liberty County. Long County downed Liberty County 60-46 on Friday. 


The Rebels had won the first meeting 65-64 on Jan. 16, and another tight game played out into the second half. Groves led 12-10 after one quarter, the edge on Ja’Zauri Scott’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. 


Whether seeded No. 1 or 2, the Atom Smashers are guaranteed a bye into the semifinals and an automatic berth in the GHSA Class 3A state tournament. 


Atomsmashers Head Coach Chuck Campbell, of course, pleased that Johnson (15-10 overall) won to finish in a tie with Long County (20-5) atop the Region 3-3A regular-season standings, each at 10-4. A tiebreaker system will be applied Saturday morning to determine the top seed and, thus, the host site of both the boys and girls region tournaments next week. 


“We’re just happy to say we’re going to represent our region in the state playoffs,” Campbell said. “That’s one of our goals.” 


Groves hurt itself with too many turnovers to waste possessions, but otherwise stayed even with Johnson, as they tied four times in the second quarter and were at 24-24 at halftime. 


“They have a good team. They know what they’re doing over there,” Johnson senior Joshua Quarterman said. 


“They play very fast, they play very physical and they play together,” Johnson junior forward Favion Kirkwood said of the Rebels. “They started very well.” 


Quarterman noted that the Atom Smashers played well in that narrow loss against the host Rebels. The outcome came down to the last shot, and Groves got it. 


“So we came here and made sure it wasn’t a last-shot (finish),” the senior said. “Everybody played together. Everybody knew what they had to do. Everybody on the bench knew what to do.” 


The bench was important, particularly when Quarterman, a standout with the most accolades on the roster, got his third foul and sat out much of the third quarter. Chief among those stepping up on offense were Kirkwood (10 of his game-high 21 points in the third) and sophomore guard Quentin James, who swished three 3-pointers during the period and scored 11 of his 15 points. 


Quarterman didn’t score in the third quarter and still finished with 18 points. The Atom Smashers led by four when he re-entered the game with 23 seconds left in the third quarter. 


“That tells me right there that I have a good team,” Campbell said. “Our main guy, our leader, was in foul trouble and we did not let down. My sophomore, Quentin James, told me (earlier in the week), ‘Coach, I’m ready. I’m going to show y’all Friday night what I’m going to do. He had a hell of a game. He made some 3’s. Then he came to the bench. He said, ‘Coach, I told you I was going to be ready.’ ” 


Johnson went on a 10-0 run from James’ basket in the closing seconds in the third to a 54-40 advantage with 5:26 left in regulation. 


The Rebels didn’t respond with a run, and the Atom Smashers kept stacking on points in a 26-14 fourth quarter. Kirkwood created space for shots from near and far from the basket, and Quarterman scored nine points with aggressive drives that sent him to the foul line or sent the partisan crowd into roars on an emphatic dunk followed by a contested bucket. 


“The dunk was to kill their momentum,” Quarterman said. “We needed a momentum shift. We already had it, but we needed a bigger one.” 

Now the Atom Smashers can focus on the region tournament and momentum for a postseason run. 


“I’m just happy we picked it up toward the end of the season and figured out a way how to play together and listen to our coaching staff,” Kirkwood said. 

Boys basketball 




GROVES (54) 

Sidney Flagg 15, Tyrone Chisholm 10, J. Manning 6, Williams 8, Marcus Thomas 10, Scott 5 


Joshua Quarterman 18, Davis 2, Quentin James 15, Jones 8, Scott 2, Priester 3, Favion Kirkwood 21, Parker 3  

Records—Groves 12-13, 9-5 Region 3-3A; Johnson 15-10, 10-4 region. 


Girls basketball 




GROVES (46) 

Williams 2, Washington 6, Mia Beranger 27, Thomas 3, Roberts 4, Schley 4 


Patton 9, Bryant 8, Fleming 4, Wright 5, Coppock 2, Zacaria Grady 13, Amayah Hamilton 13 

Records—Groves 1-24, 0-16 Region 3-3A; Johnson 15-8, 12-4 region. 



February 9, 2024



Johnson 72, Groves 54

Long Co. 38 Liberty Co 27

Savannah Country Day 48, Beach 41

St. Vincent's at Savannah Christian (NSR)


Brantley County 58, Windsor Forest 44


Bryan County 60, Southeast Bulloch 21



Alleluia Community 40, Habersham School 37


Memorial Day School 1, Islands 0

New Hampstead 41, Savannah High 28




Burke Co. 46, Benedictine 44


Beach 56, Savannah Country Day 51

Johnson 72, Groves 54

Long Co. 60, Liberty Co 46


Windsor Forest 63, Brantley County 57


Bryan County 64, Southeast Bulloch 47


Savannah Classical at Emanual County (NSR)


Habersham School 76, Alleluia Community 45


Bethesda 58, Beaufort Academy 37


Islands 58, Memorial Day School 41

New Hampstead 41, Savannah High 28


PHOTO Credit: banksfanaphotography

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