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Trojans advance as Butts surpasses 1K mark

Feb. 22—John Milledge boys basketball senior Jalan Butts was everywhere on the court Wednesday night.

Shooting from deep, driving into the teeth of the defense, and using his defensive back skills from football to pick off opponents' passes — Butts was a big factor in helping the sixth-seeded Trojans (16-8) advance to the second round of the GIAA Class AAA state playoffs. They did so via 68-26 victory over visiting Terrell Academy on Wednesday.

Butts outscored the 11th-seeded Eagles of Dawson all by himself with a 28-point effort. And with time waning in the third quarter, he surpassed 1,000 points for his varsity basketball career after having entered the night 27 away from the mark. He's the first Trojan to hit the scoring milestone since Marcus Prestwood did it in 2021, and the first non-Prestwood to accomplish the feat at JMA since Brantley Attaway in late 2012. Butts did it in his final game playing in front of a Trojan Center crowd as John Milledge's road will be at neutral sites the rest of the way.

"Hitting this milestone says a lot about Jalan," JMA head coach Mitch Risley said. "I was able to coach him his first year at John Milledge as an eighth-grader. To see him grow these last few years as a person and a player has been awesome. I'm super proud of him and everything he's accomplished."

As soon as Butts made the 1,000-point bucket, Risley quickly called timeout to allow congratulations to be passed around.

"Watching the guys storm the court was fun to see," the head coach added. "It's good to have those moments as a coach and to see your players have a lot of fun."

The senior guard led the way on a night where every JMA boys player that touched the floor scored.

"I'm really proud of the guys," said Risley. "We've let teams hang around and don't usually start very quickly. A lot of times we have to battle our way back, which our team is good at doing, but it was good to have a game where we stayed in control after a couple of tough ones last week."

The scoring surge began in the back half of the opening period. Up just 7-4 four minutes in, the longer, more athletic Trojans finished the frame on a 16-4 run to seize control.

Down about 20 points late in the second, any hopes Terrell had of coming back were obliterated when senior Solomon Burney sent the home fans into a frenzy with a two-handed jam in the open court. The two points didn't go down in the scorebook as Burney was whistled for a walk on the play, but the dunk did its damage. John Milledge cruised the rest of the way, only stopping to let the team celebrate Butts' big career scoring accomplishment.

Now it's on to the second round, or Elite Eight, for JMA boys basketball where the team will face No. 3 Lakeview Academy out of Gainesville. The Lions are 23-5 this season with almost all of their losses having come at the hands of GHSA opponents. Risley's Trojans have played a tough slate as well, so it ought to be a good matchup to determine who moves on to the Final Four.

"They're a good team that's athletic," Risley said of Lakeview. "They've got some size and they run the floor really well. It'll be a good matchup, but if our guys do what they can do, we're capable of beating anybody in the league. We've just got to believe in ourselves."

Tipoff between the Trojans and Lions is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at FPD in Macon. The winner moves on to the semifinals, which are being played locally at the Centennial Center on Wednesday.