The Peach State is buzzing with talk about the state basketball championships this week and 13WMAZ is following suit with our Athletes of the Week. This week, our honorees hail from Upson-Lee High School in Thomaston. Travon Walker and Zyrice Scott are just two pieces of the puzzle that builds the picture of success with the Knights basketball program, and they are also our co-Athletes of the Week.
This season, the Upson-Lee boys' basketball team started off unstoppable, but they never knew they would end up undefeated and playing for a state championship...or did they?
"I knew we had the strength on the team and the depth," sophomore center/forward Travon Walker said. "We might not be as deep on the bench, but, if we stayed out of foul trouble I knew we were going to go far."
"Last year, we had a chance to make it, but we had a downfall in the first round of the playoffs," sophomore point guard/shooting guard Zyrice Scott said. "We've been working hard all season, so we're very excited. I think we're going to win."
Walker and Scott are a sophomore duo who are two key contributors on the Knights' basketball team, helping lead the purple and black to their first ever GHSA AAAA state championship game.
"They've been carrying us for quite a while," Upson-Lee head coach Darrell Lockhart said. "They've been holding up their end of the bargain. We've got Travon Walker who is a 6'5" sophomore (and) we've got Zyrice Scott who's a 5'11" sophomore. These guys are really good players. They don't play like their school level, so I'm happy to have them and the basketball knowledge that they display is overwhelming."
With a very small senior presence, the youth movement is having some success slightly ahead of schedule. Just last week in the semi-finals, Walker scored 16 points with 13 rebounds and three blocks and Scott had 18 points in the Knights' 31st win of the season over Henry County. But the Knights want one more victory.
"When that ball goes in the air, and we're playing the basketball we're capable of playing, it's a beautiful thing to see," Lockhart said. "Our biggest challenge has been ourselves, honestly."
"It's a good experience," Walker said. "I've been playing with these boys ever since I was young, rec league and we played (on the) same travel ball (team), so it's a good experience and we have great chemistry going, which led us to this championship game that we're in."
Despite the winning on the court, the two underclassmen recognize they are nothing without being complete student-athletes, and that includes the classroom.
"Grades are the most important thing," Scott said. "My dad stresses that every day: grades, grades, grades. You've got to have the grades or you can't go anywhere."
And come Friday night, they hope to add state champion to their resume, as well.
"You've got this team in here that's capable, and has been knocking off teams all year long," Lockhart said. "We cannot let our guards down once. Not even one time."
Game time for Lockhart, Walker, Scott and the Knights is scheduled for Friday night at 8 p.m. at McCammish Pavilion on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Our own Jonathan Perez will be there courtside for the highlights. Upson-Lee is 31-0 and looking to finish the season undefeated.