Posted: 10:53 am Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
By Todd Holcomb
This is the last week of the regular season in high school basketball. Below is a region-by-region look a where the Class AAAAAA tournaments will take place and how the seeds might line up.
On Sunday, the AJC will post schedules for all 48 region tournaments and update them with scores through the week.
Region 1 @ Brunswick –
Boys: Tift County is the No. 1 seed and has a bye into the semifinals, thus an automatic bid into the state tournament. Brunswick, which has played Tift close (six points or less) twice this season, figures to be the No. 2
Girls: Brunswick will be the No. 1 seed and have home-court advantage. The Lady Pirates were seeded third but were knocked out in the quarterfinals last year and didn’t make the state playoffs. They should thrive on their home floor.
Region 2 @ Newton –
Boys: This was the most volatile AAAAAA tournament a year ago. Sixth-seeded Druid Hills won it with an 82-81 victory over No. 1 seed Rockdale County in the final. This season, Luella is 8-0 in region play and like to be seeded No. 1, which holds with it an automatic state-playoff berth. Newton (17-4, 6-2) and Lovejoy (13-6, 6-2) are fighting for the No. 2 seed. Morrow (11-11, 5-4) is better than its record and would be a dangerous No. 4 seed. Druid Hills (3-18, 0-9) has fallen on hard times since its miracle run.
Girls: Alcovy is the defending champion but just hoping to make the state playoffs this season. County rival Newton (15-6, 8-0) will be the team to beat. Luella (13-8, 6-2) and Rockdale County (10-7, 6-3) are fighting for the second seed.
Region 3 – @ Tri-Cities
Boys: Tri-Cities, a fifth seed, was the Cinderella champion a year ago. The Bulldogs upset top-seeded Westlake in the semifinals and beat Newton for the title. Perhaps warming up for another run, Tri-Cities upset Westlake (22-2, 7-1) again last week. But expect Westlake to get the No. 1 seed, with Tri-Cities (11-10, 5-2) or Douglas County (16-4, 4-3) getting the No. 3. They play each other Friday. Newnan (15-5, 3-3) also is tough.
Girls: Hughes is the defending champion and beat Douglas County in the final. This year, Westlake (19-4, 7-1) will be the No. 1 seed with a victory over Hughes (18-3, 4-2) on Friday. But a Hughes victory could force a three-way tie among Westlake, Hughes and Douglas County (17-3, 5-2). All three have been in the Top 10 this season. No one else should be a factor.
Region 4 @ McEachern
Boys: Pebblebrook (16-4, 10-2), a No. 7 seed a year ago, can take the lead in this region with a victory over Hillgrove (18-4, 11-2) on Wednesday. McEachern (17-4, 9-3) and Marietta (17-7, 8-7) are the only other teams with winning records. North Cobb won the title a year ago but graduated five senior starters.
Girls: No. 1-ranked McEachern (17-2, 11-0) is heavily favored to win it. That’s unlike last season, when it was a mild surprise that McEachern made the final (losing 53-52 to North Cobb). Hillgrove (18-3, 11-2) will be seeded No. 2. Four other teams have winning records, so it’s a deep region. North Cobb (16-7, 6-7) could be seeded as low as sixth.
Region 5 @ Etowah
Boys: Milton, ranked No. 8 in AAAAAA at the moment, was banned from the tournament a year ago, so the Eagles’ presence alone should make this a much better tournament. No. 1-ranked Wheeler (17-4, 10-0) is the defending champ and likely the No. 1 seed but must travel to Walton (18-3, 9-2) on Friday and to Milton (13-7, 8-2) on Saturday. Wheeler also plays Cherokee (14-7, 6-5) on Tuesday. Those are the best four teams in the region.
Girls: Roswell (15-7, 10-1) will be hard to beat in a region with several middling teams. Roswell’s only loss was to Wheeler 45-44 in December. Cherokee is the defending champion and beat county rival Woodstock 56-55 in last year’s final but is 1-19 this season.
Region 6 @ West Forsyth
Boys: Lambert (19-4, 12-0) clinched the No. 1 seed with a 73-62 victory over defending champion Alpharetta (15-7, 9-2) on Saturday. Centennial (9-12, 7-4) is probably the next best team in a shallow region.
Girls: Alpharetta won it last year, beating North Forsyth 35-27 in the final. This year, North is the team to beat at 20-2, 10-1, but North lost to South Forsyth (19-4, 8-3) 55-47 on Jan. 21. Centennial (14-7, 7-4) lost North Forsyth 54-53. They play again Friday. West Forsyth (13-7, 6-4), Chattahoochee (11-1, 5-5) and Alpharetta (9-13, 5-6) also will be tough outs.
Region 7 @ Collins Hill
Boys: Norcross won it last year and went on to the state title. The Blue Devils bombed Collins Hill 90-50 in the final. Perhaps that should’ve been a warning. The region shocker last year was Meadowcreek’s 57-55 victory over third-seeded North Gwinnett on a buzzer-beating shot. North was a Top 10 team at the time. This season, North (21-3, 14-1) and Norcross (17-5, 11-2) are the teams to beat, but this is a deep region despite mediocre records from the also-rans. Norcross has lost to Duluth (12-9, 6-6) and needed a free throw in the final seconds to beat Peachtree Ridge (10-13, 7-7) last week.
Girls: North Gwinnett won the title last season with a 58-55 victory over Norcross in a preview of the state championship game, which Norcross came back and won. Both team suffered significant graduation losses. Norcross (17-4, 12-1) remains a state contender and has swept second-place Mountain View (16-5, 11-2). Duluth (13-9, 9-3) and Mill Creek (17-6, 9-5) are borderline Top 10 teams. North (12-10, 8-7) is the team you don’t want to play.
Region 8 @ Berkmar
Boys: Berkmar (18-5, 12-2) will be the No. 1 seed if the Patriots can beat Brookwood (12-11, 6-8) and Central Gwinnett (14-9, 7-7) this week, but Shiloh, the defending champion, (14-8, 10-3) swept the two-game series with Berkmar and step in if there’s an upset. This is a region with several capable teams, so upsets are in the forecast. Note that third-place Grayson (18-4, 9-4) was seeded eighth a year ago and looking for its first state-playoff berth in 10 years.
Girls: No. 2 Parkview (21-2, 13-1) and No. 3 Archer (21-3, 14-1) have split their meetings and figure to play again in what would be the marque championship game in this classification. Archer has grown up from 2013, when Parkview tagged Archer 57-23 in the region final. There are several other pretty good teams here, most notably Central Gwinnett (15-6, 9-5) and Dacula (14-8, 8-5), but neither is a serious threat to the big two.