Posted: 10:39 am Friday, February 28th, 2014
By Adam Krohn
The Class AA basketball semifinals have arrived and there are now four teams each on the boys’ and girls’ sides who will vie for a cherished state title. Both the boys and girls semifinals will be held Saturday at Columbus State University. On the boys’ side, Vidalia, Calhoun, Laney and Greater Atlanta Christian remain. On the girls’ side, Putnam County, Kendrick, Laney and Wesleyan remain. Interesting note: all eight teams are No. 1 seeds.
Here is the schedule for Saturday at Columbus State:
Laney vs. GAC, 4:45 p.m.
Vidalia vs. Calhoun, 8:15 p.m.
Putnam County vs. Kendrick, 3 p.m.
Laney vs. Wesleyan, 6:30 p.m.
Last week, I posted my predictions for both the boys and girls Class AA state tournaments. On the boys’ side, I correctly picked the final four, so my pick of a Calhoun-GAC final – with GAC winning – is well intact. More on that in a moment.
On the girls’ side, however, my bracket is a mess. While I was correct in picking Laney and Wesleyan reaching the semifinals, I was incorrect in picking Bleckley County and GAC to get that far. To make matters worse, I picked GAC to win the state title over Wesleyan. On Wednesday, Kendrick narrowly defeated GAC 65-62 on the road in the quarterfinals.
I picked GAC because of the strides I saw the team make against its Region 6 rival and five-time defending state champions Wesleyan. GAC beat Wesleyan to earn the top seed in the region tournament and came within three points of beating Wesleyan again in the region title game, which Wesleyan hosted.
I figured GAC would have the confidence and momentum it needed to earn a rematch with Wesleyan in the state title game, and with that game being played at a neutral site that GAC would pull off the victory. But, obviously, I underestimated Kendrick – a team undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the state.
On the boys’ side, my Final Four is correct, but I’ve made what I consider a bold prediction in picking Calhoun over Vidalia. I consider the pick bold because Vidalia is the No. 2-ranked team in the state, is one of two teams in Class AA that remain undefeated and has won its games by an average of 41.1 points. That margin of victory average includes the playoffs, where Vidalia has won 97-30 and 80-62.
Here’s the thing: Vidalia hasn’t been challenged all season. The closest any opponent came was 15 points. Are the Vidalia Indians really that good, or have they simply not been challenged by a capable opponent? I think the Indians are an incredibly talented team, but I’m going with the latter. And that’s why I think they’ll be in trouble should they face a challenge and the game is tight late in the fourth quarter, because they haven’t been in that situation all season long. And I believe Calhoun is the team to give them that challenge and, ultimately, prevail.
That being said, I don’t think there’s a team in the bracket capable of beating the GAC Spartans, the defending state-champs and Class AA’s other undefeated team. The Spartans’ undefeated record carries more weight than Vidalia’s based on the strength of their schedule, which includes winning the prestigious Arby’s Classic.
Again, Vidalia is definitely not overrated and is definitely one of the state’s best. I just question if the Indians will be able to react if they’re ever faced with pressure after coasting all season.
And GAC may be the best team in the state, regardless of classification.
Send Adam Krohn an email at AdamKrohnAJC@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter.