Badger steps right in

By Brian Paglia


The resemblance is obvious.

Former Stockbridge guard Chris Davis, the two-time Henry County player of the year, was a slashing guard and a dangerous penetrator.

So is DeShawn Badger.

Davis, now a freshman at Jacksonville University, played with a vigorous hatred of losing.

So does Badger.

Davis wore No. 11.

So does Badger.

Among the biggest concerns Stockbridge had this season after graduating Davis and eight other seniors was finding a reliable ball-handler with an intensity to take over games.

But Badger's emergence has assuaged those concerns and helped Stockbridge (5-2, 4-1 Region 4-AAA) maintain its place among the top teams in the Southern Crescent.

"He's been a God-send for us," Tigers coach Duane Kelley said.

In West Virginia last season, Badger was a big-time player at George Washington High School in Charleston, W.V. The 6-foot-1 guard was team captain of a squad that won the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship and finished 21-5.

When he moved to Georgia and joined Stockbridge, Badger had a tough time fitting in at the beginning of the season.

"The first couple of games I was a little sluggish, because it wasn't my team," Badger said. "But after that I got comfortable, and I mean it just started to flow after that."

More than comfortable, the senior has been nearly unstoppable as of late. Badger has scored at least 20 points in three straight games, all Tigers victories. He scored 29 points against Locust Grove, 25 against Woodland and then led a second-half comeback against No. 7 Henry County on Tuesday with 21.

Badger's performance has been shades of Davis, who was a dynamic athlete and scorer in leading Stockbridge to back-to-back state tournament appearances.

"He's that dog like we had with Chris Davis," Kelley said. "It's funny that they wear the same number. We were missing a guy who had some intensity and just straight up hates to lose.

"He fell into our lap. He's a blessing."

Against Henry County on Tuesday, Badger displayed a well-rounded game. The Warhawks couldn't stop his penetration, he made crisp passes in transition and he played solid defense.

Just like Davis used to.

And just like during Davis' career, the Tigers are on top, tied with Henry County for first place in Region 4-AAA.

"These kids are getting accustomed to winning and having some success," Kelley said. "They want everybody to know that Stockbridge isn't a fluke, that we're just not a one-hit wonder.

"The goals haven't changed, just the personnel has."