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Athletes Beyond Bartow: Benham selected SAA Defensive Player of the Year, Hagans continues with Blazers

Charles Wilson / February 26, 2024

This week’s Athletes Beyond Bartow edition includes updates on more than 50 contributors with their professional and college teams.


ASHTON HAGANS — Portland Trailblazers and Rip City Remix (4th yr. pro; Cartersville native; Kentucky; Newton HS) … scored two points this past Friday night in 2:26 of playing time during the Blazers 127-112 home loss to the Denver Nuggets. In Sunday’s 93-80 home loss to Charlotte, Hagans scored three points with three boards and one assist in just over 11 minutes of court time. Portland is 15-41 and fifth in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference. Hagans is on a two-way contract with Portland from their G League affiliate, the Rip City Remix. Blazers’ coach Chauncey Billips had praise for Hagans when talking to reporter Jeremy Brener of SB Nation, ““He’s just a scrappy guy. He’s an actual real point guard out there trying to make plays for everybody, picking the ball up full court, pushing the ball on the other end. He did a good job. I love to see people get what they deserve,” said Billips. 


MASON BARNETT — Kansas City Royals (3rd yr. pro; Auburn; Cartersville HS) … the 23-year-old is a non-roster invitee for the Royals during spring training. Last Friday, he was entered to work the seventh inning and was tagged with Kansas City’s 5-4 loss to the Texas Rangers. Barnett faced four batters allowing a triple and an RBI single before getting out of the frame. Kansas City (1-2 in Spring Training) has games this week with the Cubs, Rockies, Padres, Mariners, White Sox, A’s, Guardians, and Reds.


A.J. MOSBY, JR. — Sudbury Five (6th-year pro; Alcorn State; Cartersville HS) … in home wins this past week over the Montreal Toundra and the Jamestown Jackals twice, Mosby averaged more than 20 points, four rebounds, four assists, and one steal for The Five. Sudbury (11-6) plays at the London Lightning on Tuesday.


JASON BOHN — PGA Tour Champions (Acworth resident; Cartersville Country Club member) … tied for 58th at the Trophy Hassan II in Rabat, Morocco with rounds of 81-74-76—231 (+12). The tournament was won by Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina. The next senior tour event is the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Arizona March 8-10.


BRAXTON BENHAM — Berry College (Jr., Cass HS) … was named the SAA Defensive Player of the Year and Second Team All-SAA selection this past week. Ranking seventh in NCAA DIII and first in the SAA for steals, Benham had a game-high of seven this season. He has played a key role in stops for the Vikings' defense and translates the extra possessions into points. Benham is just shy of 15 ppg and shooting over 50 percent from the field. Last Friday in the Southern Athletic Association tournament semifinals, he scored 17 points with five steals, five assists, four rebounds, and one blocked shot as Berry beat Sewanee. In the Vikings’ SAA championship win over Rhodes College, he posted 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Berry (19-10) opens the NCAA D3 Tournament on Friday night at Guilford College (22-4) in Greensboro, North Carolina.

ZAYLAN CHANEY — Tallahassee CC (So., Cartersville resident, Legacy Academy) … in a loss last Wednesday to Northwest Florida State CC and a win at Pensacola State CC on Saturday, Chaney totaled 21 points with three rebounds and one steal. The Eagles (18-10, 4-6 FCSAA) host Gulf Coast State CC on Wednesday and play at Chipola College on Saturday afternoon.

JA’KA’YAH DRAUGHN — Chattanooga State CC (Fr., Cartersville HS) … in wins last Wednesday and Saturday over Walters State CC at home and on the road at Southwest Tennessee CC, Draughn totaled one rebound, two assists, and one steal. Chattanooga State (25-1, 15-1 TCCAA) plays at Gadsden State CC on Wednesday night and hosts Volunteer State CC on Saturday afternoon.

JUSTICE HAYES — Point University (Jr., Cass HS) … in losses last Wednesday at Middle Georgia State and at home Saturday to Thomas University (Ga.), Hayes totaled seven points, two rebounds, and one assist. Hayes averaged just over seven points, three rebounds, and one assist per game for the year. The Skyhawks’ season ends with a 6-22 record. 

DiANTHONY HEATHCOCK — Columbia International University (Sr., Woodland HS) … scored 14 points with four rebounds, two blocked shots, and one assist last Wednesday in a 95-87 home win over Reinhardt. He then scored 20 points with three boards, two steals, and one assist last Saturday in an 82-76 home win over Johnson University (Tenn.). The Rams (18-10) will be the No. 3 seed in the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament and take on Bryan College on Thursday in the quarterfinals in Kingsport, Tennessee. The tournament semifinals and finals are Friday and Saturday in Kingsport.

HALEY JOHNSON — Central Georgia Tech CC (So., Cass HS) … had three rebounds and two assists but did not score in a start this past Saturday as the Titans fell at East Georgia State CC, 73-59. CGTCC (13-13, 10-5 GCAA) plays at Southern Crescent Tech on Wednesday and at Andrew College on Saturday.

KEARA McDANIEL — Toccoa Falls College (So., Cass HS) … scored three points with one rebound and one blocked shot last Friday in a home 87-66 victory over Trinity Baptist (Fla.) in the semifinals of the NCCAA D2 Womens South Regional. The Screaming Eagles are 18-5.

T.J. PRINTUP, JR. — Tusculum University (R-Fr., Adairsville HS) … scored seven points last Wednesday in an 85-71 home loss to Lincoln Memorial University. Printup then scored two points this past Saturday with three assists, two rebounds, and one blocked shot in a 113-104 home win over Coker College. The Pioneers (12-12, 10-8 South Atlantic Conference) host UVA-Wise on Wednesday and visit Anderson University (SC) on Saturday.


CALEB HENSON — Virginia Tech (So., Woodland HS) … currently ranked No. 2 nationally in the 149-pound weight class, Henson won a 4-1 decision over 3rd-ranked Jackson Arrington of NC State last Friday but the Hokies lost the team dual, 20-12. Next for Virginia Tech is the ACC Championship at Chapel Hill on Sunday, March 10.

BRYCE KRESHO — Franklin & Marshall College (So., Cass HS) … went 0-4 in his bouts at the F&M Scramble this past Saturday. Next up for Franklin & Marshall is the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania March 8-9.

TYLER McKNIGHT — Davidson College (Fr., Cass HS) … won by technical fall over his Queens opponent in a 47-0 team win last Thursday. The 149-pounder also gained a forfeit win as the Wildcats blanked Presbyterian, 42-0. The Southern Conference Championships are on March 9 at Appalachian State.

JAXON SMITH — University of Maryland (R-So., Woodland HS) … currently ranked No. 4 nationally in the 197-pound division, Smith won a 12-9 decision over his opponent this past Friday as the Terrapins beat visiting Drexel, 27-15. Maryland hosts the Big Ten Conference Championships March 9-10.


EMILY SURCEY — Samford University (Jr., Cass HS) … won her Line 2 doubles set with partner Grace Keller, 6-3, and won her Line 2 singles match, 7-5, 6-4 last Thursday in a 4-3 team loss at UAB. Surcey also won with Keller in their Line 2 doubles set, 6-3, but lost her Line 2 singles match, 0-6, 1-6, in a 5-2 team loss Saturday at the University of South Alabama. The Bulldogs (3-5) play at Troy University on Thursday.

BRYCE VAN ORDER — Piedmont University (Sr., Woodland HS) … went 4-0 this past week with an 8-1 doubles win with partner Mike Porcelli and a 6-2, 6-2 Line 1 singles victory during the Lions’ 9-0 win last Thursday at home over Brevard College. On Sunday, Van Order and Porcelli won 8-7 at Line 3 doubles and he won 6-2, 6-4 in his Line 2 singles match during a 6-3 win at home over Methodist University. Piedmont (6-2) plays at Huntingdon College in Montgomery on Friday before hosting Emory University and Birmingham-Southern College on Sunday.


NOAH BAER — Baldwin & Wallace University (Fr., Woodland HS) … cleared 4.06 meters (13 feet, 3.84 inches) and finished 10th at the Ohio Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships last Friday. The Yellow Jackets begin their outdoor season on March 22 at the Weems Baskin Relays in Columbia, South Carolina.

STEPHEN SMITH — Kennesaw State University (Sr., Cass HS) … cleared 4.92 meters (16 feet, 1-¾ inches) last Friday to finish second at the Atlantic Sun Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship in Gainesville, Florida. His teammate Simon Seid (5.12m) won the conference title as the Owls took the top six places in the pole vault. KSU won the team championship with 235.5 points. Eastern Kentucky and Central Arkansas rounded out the top three teams. The outdoor season begins for Kennesaw State on March 16 at the Georgia Tech Invitational.


DALTON HENSON — Reinhardt University (Sr., Cartersville HS) … fired rounds of 70-72-73—215 (1-under-par) and tied for 7th individually at the Kinderlou Forest Spring Invitational last Monday and Tuesday in Valdosta. The tournament was conducted at the 7,039-yard, par-72, Kinderlou Forest Golf Club. The Eagles finished fifth in the eight-team tournament. Reinhardt returns to action March 4-5 in Newnan at the Point University Invitational.

CHANC WILLIS — Reinhardt University (Sr., Cartersville HS) … shot rounds of 76-71-69—216 (even par) and placed 10th individually at the Kinderlou Forest Spring Invitational last Monday and Tuesday in Valdosta. The Eagles shot 16-over-par and placed fifth in the eight-team tournament behind Dalton State, Coastal Georgia, Cumberland University (Tenn.), and Truett-McConnell. Next for the Eagles is the Point University Invitational in Newnan on March 4-5.


LAINEY BAKER — Union University (So., Woodland HS) … struck out 13 in a complete-game pitching victory last Friday at home as the Bulldogs beat Delta State University 5-1. Baker allowed just one hit, one walk, and one hit batsman. The next day she closed out a 12-9 win over the Lady Statesmen by facing five batters in the seventh inning. She yielded one, unearned run on one hit and fanned one. In seven appearances so far this season, she is 4-2 with a 1.89 ERA and a 49:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just over 33 innings.

HAYLEE DISHMON — Georgia Highlands CC (Fr., Cass HS) … went 6-for-15 including one home run, one double, one walk, and two RBIs in the Lady Chargers’ four games last week. GHC split a twin bill with USC Union and lost two games at Cleveland State CC. Dishmon is batting .407 with 11 RBIs and 15 stolen bases through the first 17 games. Georgia Highlands (3-14) has a doubleheader on Saturday at Bevill State CC. 

ANSLEY EVANS — Reinhardt University (Jr., Woodland HS) … in two wins over Kentucky Christian University last Tuesday and two wins Saturday at Thomas University (Ga.), she was 6-for-13 at the plate including a double, one walk, five RBIs, and one run scored pushing her season batting average to .407. The Eagles (7-3) will face Saint Xavier (Ill.), William Woods (Mo.), Houston-Victoria, and Morningside University (Iowa) this weekend at the Gulf Shores Tournament.

MEGAN GREGORY — Campbell University (Fr., Adairsville HS) … the 5’11” hurler received no-decision but went five innings in the circle in the Camels’ 5-4 win last Friday over Incarnate Word. She allowed two earned runs on four hits and one walk and had one strikeout. Campbell (5-10) hosts Michigan State on Tuesday and will play Lafayette, Rutgers, North Carolina, and Rider Friday through Sunday at the UNC March Madness Tournament.

ANSLEY HIGHT — University of Southern Mississippi (Fr., Cass HS) … had a pair of unsuccessful pinch-hitting appearances last Friday and Saturday in losses at Jacksonville State to the host Gamecocks and Samford University. Southern Miss (5-8) will play Alcorn State, Mississippi State, and Samford this Thursday through Saturday at the Bulldog Invitational in Starkville.

ALYSSA JARRETT — Piedmont University (Fr., Adairsville HS) … made her third start at catcher last Saturday but did not bat in a 4-0 home loss to Pfeiffer College. She had six putouts and a pair of assists, including a caught stealing throw in eight total chances behind the dish. The Lions (2-4) host Bridgewater College for a doubleheader on Monday and will play in the Leadoff Classic in Columbus this weekend where they will face six different opponents.

SADYE JOHNSON — University of North Georgia (Jr., Adairsville HS) … came off the bench to pinch hit and play catcher in last Wednesday’s 13-0 home win over King University. Johnson was 0-for-2 at the plate. The NCAA D2 No. 1 ranked Nighthawks (16-2, 3-0 Peach Belt Conference) also swept a three-game series with USC Beaufort this past weekend. UNG hosts Alabama-Huntsville for two games on Wednesday before visiting USC-Aiken on Saturday and Sunday for a three-game conference series.

ERYN LEE — Reinhardt University (So., Cass HS) … went 4-for-5 with a walk, three stolen bases, and three runs scored last Tuesday in a home doubleheader sweep of Kentucky Christian. In a pair of Eagles ' wins, she was then 0-for-7 this past Saturday at Thomas University. Reinhardt (7-3) will face Saint Xavier (Ill.), William Woods (Mo.), Houston-Victoria, and Morningside University (Iowa) this weekend at the Gulf Shores Tournament.

RACHAEL LEE — Gulf Coast State CC (So., Cass HS) … went 3-for-15 including a double, one walk, and two RBIs as the Commodores went 3-1 last Friday and Saturday. GCSCC had wins over Daytona State CC, Santa Fe CC, and Central Florida CC before falling to State College of Florida. Lee is hitting .416 with 26 RBIs through the first 22 games. Gulf Coast (18-4) hosts Snead State CC on Thursday for two games before facing Enterprise State, Calhoun CC, and Andrew College this weekend.

AVA PERKINS — Lee University (Fr., Cartersville HS) … in four starts last week at third base, Perkins was 2-for-8 at the plate with both hits coming in a 14-4 win at Lincoln Memorial. The Flames were 1-4 for the week splitting games at LMU and dropping three home conference games to Valdosta State. Lee (7-4, 3-3 Gulf South Conference) hosts King University on Wednesday and travels to West Georgia on Friday and Saturday for a three-game series.

ALEXA VARNER — Shorter University (Sr., Adairsville HS) … was 0-for-8 at the plate starting in left field as the Lady Hawks lost at Georgia College and dropped two of three at West Georgia. Shorter (2-11, 1-5 Gulf South Conference) hosts Columbus State University for two games on Tuesday and visits Christian Brothers University on Saturday and Sunday for a three-game set.

ALEXIS WOODS — Tennessee State University (Fr., Cass HS) … in four games this past weekend in Montgomery at the HBCU Celebration Classic, Woods made four starts as her team’s designated hitter and went 3-for-10 at the plate including one double, two walks, one sacrifice hit, three runs scored, and two stolen bases. The Tigers beat Florida A&M, Tuskegee University, and Alabama State with a loss to Howard University. Tennessee State (6-6) heads to Hawaii to play the hosts, Portland State, and Loyola Marymount at the Hawaii Spring Fling Classic on Thursday through Saturday.


DREW BILLINGS — Trinity Baptist College (So., Woodland HS) … made a two-inning appearance this past Saturday and was credited with the pitching win in a 5-4 home victory over New College of Florida. He allowed one earned run on four hits with four strikeouts. The Eagles (7-9, 4-2 National Christian Colleges South Region) will play Valley City State, and two games with Lawrence Tech on Friday and Saturday at the Russ-Matt Invitational in Auburndale, Florida.

CURT BONNER — LaGrange College (So., Cartersville HS) … made two starts at catcher and one at DH as the Panthers lost two of three over the weekend. Bonner was 0-for-10 at the plate and was hit by a pitch twice, scoring one run, in losses to Birmingham-Southern and Adrian with a win over Wheaton (Ill.). LaGrange (5-2) hosts Emory Tuesday night and has a three-game home series with Nichols College (Mass.) this weekend.

CADEN CARROLL — Kennesaw State University (Fr., Cartersville HS) … gave up a hit but got a ground ball double play to face the minimum in the ninth inning last Friday as the Owls won at 10th-ranked Clemson, 18-1. KSU beat Wofford earlier in the week but lost the other two games in the Clemson series. Now 3-5, Kennesaw State visits Jacksonville State on Tuesday and hosts Longwood University in a three-game series Friday through Sunday.

MICAH EARWOOD — Georgia State University (R-So., Cartersville HS) … pitched the sixth inning in a 15-0 loss last Tuesday at home against Georgia. Earwood hit a batter but got a strikeout and a ground ball double play. Last Friday in a 14-5 loss to Seton Hall, he was entered to start the fifth inning and yielded three runs (only one earned) off two hits and one walk. He was lifted following a sac fly. Georgia State (2-5) plays at Georgia Tech on Tuesday and visits Western Carolina for a four-game series Friday through Sunday.

ELLIOTT EASTIN — Covenant College (R-Fr., Cartersville HS) … faced three batters in the eighth inning and allowed two hits and one inherited runner to score in the Scots’ 19-7 home loss last Saturday to Messiah University (Pa.). Eastin recorded one strikeout to end the frame. Covenant (3-5) plays a home-and-home series with Emory University on Friday and Saturday.

COLIN EATON — Gordon State College (So., Cartersville HS) … made a six-inning pitching start this past Saturday at Wallace State-Hanceville CC and earned the win as the Highlanders picked up a 3-2 victory. Eaton allowed two earned runs on two hits and six walks. He struck out four improving his record to 3-0. Gordon State (10-9) plays at Central Alabama CC on Tuesday.

GEOFFREY GORE — Coastal Alabama - South CC (Fr., Cartersville HS) … pitched a scoreless seventh inning allowing no hits but two walks in a 7-1 home loss this past Friday to Pensacola State CC. Coastal Alabama-South (2-9) visits Chipola CC on Tuesday and plays two games at Gulf Coast State CC on Saturday.

KENNY JINKS — Wheeling University (R-Sr., Woodland HS) … struck out 12 of 19 batters faced and went five innings in a start at Dillard (La.) in New Orleans last Friday. The lefty allowed no runs on three hits, two walks, and one hit batsman in a 5-0 win. The Cardinals (3-2) play three games this Saturday and Sunday at Bluefield State University (WV).

COLT McKIBBEN — Lee University (So., Cartersville HS) … pitched the final five innings in relief last Tuesday in a 9-4 home win over Carson-Newman University. McKibben allowed no runs on three hits and struck out eight for his first win of the season. This past Saturday, he retired the final two outs in an 8-1 home loss to Valdosta State. Lee (10-5, 4-2 Gulf South Conference) plays a three-game series at West Georgia on Friday and Saturday.

SAM MELTON — Rockingham CC (So., Cartersville HS) … saw action in four of five games for the Eagles last week going 4-for-11 at the plate with four walks, two doubles, and four RBIs. Rockingham (3-12, 0-2 NJCAA D-III Region 10) hosts the Ferrum College JV for two games on Tuesday and plays a three-game, home-and-home series with Caldwell Tech CC on Saturday and Sunday.

DREW ROTHSCHILD — Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (So., Cartersville HS) … went 4-for-10 with a homer, two walks, two runs scored, and one stolen base as the Stallions dropped two of three games last Wednesday and Saturday at Tallahassee CC. ABAC (4-9) hosts Santa Fe CC on Tuesday and a doubleheader with Wallace-Dothan CC on Thursday.

HANK SMITH — Jacksonville State University (R-Fr., Cartersville HS) … made an appearance at catcher last Tuesday in a 7-3 loss at Samford and came off the bench again this past Sunday at catcher in an 11-1 loss at South Alabama. He had one at-bat in the ninth inning and flew out. The Gamecocks (3-4) host Kennesaw State Tuesday night and Kent State for a three-game series on Friday through Sunday.

PHILLIP SCHILTZ — Coastal Alabama-South (Fr., Cartersville HS) … made his second pitching appearance and suffered the defeat last Friday in a 7-1 home loss to Pensacola State CC. Schiltz pitched 2-⅓ innings allowing six earned runs on five hits and one walk. He struck out two. The Coyotes (2-9) visit Chipola CC on Tuesday and will play two games at Gulf Coast State CC on Saturday.

SCOTTY SMITH — Covenant College (Jr., Woodland HS) … made a pitching start and worked into the fourth inning in a 19-7 home loss last Saturday to Messiah University (Pa.). Smith went 3-⅔ innings allowing five earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and one hit batsman. The Scots (3-5)  host Emory University on Friday afternoon and play a doubleheader at Emory on Saturday.

STEPHEN SPELL — Young Harris College (Grad student, Cass HS) … in four home wins last week — one over Tusculum University and three over Erskine College — the Mountain Lions’ third baseman was 9-for-16 at the plate with seven RBIs. He was also hit by one pitch and stole two bases. Young Harris (13-1), ranked No. 13 in D2, visits Mars Hill University on Tuesday and visits Conference of the Carolinas opponent, the University of Mount Olive, for a three-game series on Saturday and Sunday.

PRESTON WELCHEL — Cumberland University (Jr., Cartersville HS) … in a win over Tennessee Southern and three wins over visiting Indiana Tech, the left fielder was 4-for-12 with two home runs, one triple, one walk, two runs scored, and five RBIs. The Phoenix (7-7) host Cleary University (Mich.) for three games on Friday and Saturday. 

COHEN WILBANKS — Georgia Gwinnett College (Jr., Cartersville HS) … made starts last Friday and Saturday at catcher in wins over visiting Saint Xavier (Ill.). Wilbanks was 3-for-6 at the plate with a homer and a double driving in two runs. He was also hit by a pitch. The 2nd-ranked Grizzlies (14-1) games with St. Francis (Ill.) and Northwestern Ohio on Saturday and Sunday.

JORDAN WILKIE — Augusta University (Sr., Cartersville HS) … in four wins this past weekend over visiting Fairmont State (WV), the Jaguars’ first baseman was 2-for-10 with a home run, two walks, one sacrifice, five runs scored, and three RBIs. Augusta (8-7) plays at West Georgia on Tuesday before hosting a three-game Peach Belt Conference series with Georgia College on Friday through Sunday.


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