Now, the return of warmer weather has brought the teams back to the heart of region play with less than a month to go before the start of the region tournaments.
Here are some of the top games involving Class AAAAAA basketball teams this weekend:
*Allatoona at South Cobb, Friday (boys): Allatoona was the Class AAAAA runner-up in 2015 and 2016 but has had an uncharacteristic 7-7 start this season. Still, the Buccaneers can move into a virtual tie for first place in 6-AAAAAA with a victory against sixth-ranked South Cobb (12-3 overall, 6-0 in region). The Eagles are 1.5 games ahead of Allatoona (7-7, 4-1).
*Pope at Cambridge, Friday (boys): Unranked Pope (13-2, 7-1) could have a chance to move into first place in 7-AAAAAA when it faces No. 7 Alpharetta (17-1, 8-1) on Tuesday, but first the Greyhounds will need to take care of business against Cambridge. The Bears (11-5, 6-2) are close behind the leaders but lost to both earlier this season, including 80-61 against Pope on Dec. 2.
*Cedar Shoals at Gainesville, Saturday (boys): After two postponements, top-ranked Gainesville finally opened its 8-AAAAAA schedule Tuesday with a 87-53 victory over Lanier and will continue region play Friday at Winder-Barrow. Then the Red Elephants (14-0, 1-0) will step out of classification to meet AAAAA No. 3 Cedar Shoals, which is 14-2 and has the classification’s best record.
*Harrison at Buford, Saturday (girls): Class AAAAAA Harrison, 13-2 going into Thursday’s game against Osborne, takes on AAAAA Buford in a battle of top-ranked teams. Harrison’s two losses have come against Class AAAAAAA No. 1 Norcross (74-64) and Manasquan of New Jersey (68-61), both of which are in the top 20 of USA Today’s national rankings. Buford is 13-0.
*Winder-Barrow vs. Holy Innocents’, Saturday (girls): Third-ranked Winder-Barrow and No. 6 Grovetown will represent Class AAAAAA in the third annual Krossover Classic at Archer High School. Winder-Barrow will face Class A private No. 1 Holy Innocents’ at 1 p.m., followed by Grovetown against Hoover (Ala.) at 2:30. Other games include Wesleyan vs. Center Point (Ala.) at 4, Class AAAAAAA No. 1 Norcross against Riverdale (Tenn.) at 5:30, and Archer against Woodland-Stockbridge at 7 p.m.