An entire crew of Pirates took the stage Thursday in the auditorium at Brunswick High to announce to a lively crowd where they would set sail for the next step of their respective careers.
Sebastian Hutchinson, Titus Washington, Shakaylan Pinkson, Shamya Flanders, Dariana Johnson, Shané Jackson, JaMya West, Taniyah Battle and Camarion Johnson made up the nine signees who declared their college choices.
The wrestling signees got the ceremony started with Hutchinson taking the mic after a highlight video to thank his coaches for allowing him to wrestle and push him to his limit, his teammates for pushing him to go the extra step, and his parents for their unrelenting love.
An honor graduate with a 4.1 GPA and 91 career wins, Hutchinson signed with Midway University following a prep career that saw him qualify for the individual state tournament three times, including a fifth-place finish in the 175-pound weight class a year ago. His tenacity and physicality followed Hutchinson to the football field, where he earned all-region honorable mention at outside linebacker for tallying 26 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery as a senior.
Next on the docket was Washington, whose highlight film elicited synchronized “booms” from the audience every time he slammed an opponent.
Washington qualified for the state tournament as a junior, and he finished third in the region in the 165-pound class this past season. Over his career at Brunswick, he racked up 60 wins, and now he’ll look to continue his development at Colby Community College.
The rest of the program was dominated by basketball players, and nearly exclusively those from a girls’ team that worked up quite the resume over their four years.
During that span, the Brunswick girls basketball team has gone 91-22, played for a region title each season, and won back-to-back over the past two seasons. This past year, the Lady Pirates advanced to the Final 4 for the first time since 2015.
Pinkston was the first of six members of the team to announce her decision of Vorhees College. The signing comes off the back of a strong senior season that saw the two-time all-region selection blossom as a calming presence for Brunswick.
As the third big, Pinkston recorded 101 points, 92 rebounds and 26 steals on the season — none bigger than her 14 points and seven rebounds to power the Lady Pirates into the state quarterfinals.
“She was the reason we were able to win that Sweet 16 game,” said girls basketball coach Maria Mangram.
The two-time Region 2-6A Player of the Year, Flanders had plenty of similar nights.
Easy to find on the court as “the girl with the hair,” Flanders’ vibrant locks only highlighted her tremendous play. She joined the 1,000-point scorers club at Brunswick while earning all-state recognition twice, and all-region honors all four years of high school.
“Several nights she put the team on her back and carried us to victory,” Mangram said.
Flanders, who also played volleyball and competed in track and field, announced she would be staying with the blue and gold by signing with Albany State University.
Dariana Johnson followed by signing with Southern Crescent Technical College — a feat that seemed unlikely years ago.
“She is by far the most improved Lady Pirate I have ever coached,” Mangram said.
A two-time all-region honoree, late nights in the gym paid off for Dariana Johnson, who became one of the team’s best shooters while working her way from reserve to a starter this past season in which she recorded 128 points, 31 assists and 44 steals.
West had every opportunity to slide into the starting lineup for Brunswick, but the South Georgia Technical College signee preferred to gauge the early action.
“JaMya is our spark off the bench,” Mangram said.
A multi-dimensional steadying force for the Lady Pirates, West tallied 557 points, 294 rebounds, 165 assists and 155 steals over her career with the Lady Pirates, but her lasting impact on the program may have very well occurred in her final weeks.
West suffered a scary injury in Brunswick’s Sweet 16 game that required her to be taken out of the gym on a stretcher. Despite the setback, West ensured her teammates she would return if they took care of business in the Elite 8, and both sides held up their promise.
The Lady Pirates advanced to the Final 4, where West made her return to the court.
Jackson was another mainstay for Brunswick, collecting 928 points, 742 rebounds, 186 blocks and 134 steals as a four-year starter with four all-region selections.
Called “the cheat sheet” by Mangram, Jackson was a stalwart in the paint, as recognized by her region Defensive Player of the Year award this past season. The two-time all-state honoree was also selected as the best shot blocker in Class 6A.
Jackson announced she would be taking her immense talents to down the road to Georgia Southwestern State.
The final signee from the Lady Pirates won’t be continuing her athletic career. Instead, Battle decided to pursue her academic endeavors at Mercer University.
Though Battle played sparingly, she was essential in the locker room. The sport wasn’t her first love, but she stuck it out to support her Lady Pirate family.
“She does not play about her sisters, and she does not play about me,” Mangram said with a chuckle.
Battle’s time with the team certainly did nothing to distract her from the classroom. She will graduate with a 4.21 GPA having scored 1260 on the SAT and 28 on the ACT. She already has 30 credits completed in college with a 4.0 GPA, and she’s earned the university merit scholarship among many others.
The day’s final signee — Camarion Johnson — is headed to South Georgia Technical College after completing one of the most prolific scoring careers in Glynn County history.
While starting 109 games over four years, Camarion Johnson racked up 1,336 points, which is the second-most in Brunswick High School history behind Aaron Swinson. His point total also ranks him within the top five all-time in the county.
Camarion Johnson was at his best as a senior, averaging more than 20 points per game while leading the young Pirates to a 22-7 record and a Sweet 16 appearance. He was voted the region’s Offensive Player of the Year.
And Camarion Johnson set a shining example for his teammates off the court to top off his importance to the program.
“He’s a very good person, and he’s a very good student, which makes him a special person,” said boys basketball coach Chris Turner.