It’s always more interesting when ranked teams play each other. The games are typically close and the outcome always has an impact on the region standings and the state rankings. Tuesday will be in important night, with four girls games and one boys game involving a pair of state-ranked teams.
The site for two of the games is Buford, which hosts Flowery Branch in a big Region 8 doubleheader. The Buford boys are No. 1, with Flowery Branch ranked No. 10. The Buford girls are No. 2 and Flowery Branch is No. 3.
The Buford boys (17-2) have won six straight since losing back-to-back games at the Arby’s Classic over the Christmas break. The Wolves beat No. 2 Cedar Shoals for the second time this season a week ago and outlasted Class AAAAAA Harrison. Marcus Watson leads the Wolves with 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds and David Viti averages 13.7 and 5.5 rebounds. Guard Alex Jones leads Gwinnett County with seven assists per game.
Flowery Branch (16-4) has won six of its last seven games, the loss a lopsided setback to Cedar Shoals. The Falcons are led by the effort-plus play of seniors Brannon Clark and John Mills. The Falcons were beaten 66-54 by Buford on Dec. 16 in their first meeting.
The Buford girls (17-1) lost their first game last week against Class A Private powerhouse St. Francis. The Knights were only the second team this season to score as many as 45 points against the defense-minded Wolves. Tory Ozment leads Buford with 14.6 points and 3.4 assits and Audrey Weiner averages 9.4 points. Zikaya Wright averages a team-high 5.9 rebounds and Jessica Nelson averages 4.9. Snoody Johnson leads with 4.9 assists.
The Flowery Branch girls (16-3) have won four straight, the last two on the road. The Falcons are led by Taniyah Worth, Lexie Sengkhammee and Julianne Sutton. The Falcons will likely need to knock down a load of 3-pointers to beat the Wolves. Buford won the previous meeting 53-44 on Dec. 16.
No. 9 Harris County at No. 5 Warner Robins girls: Harris County (16-3) will try to avenge an earlier two-point loss to the Demons. Taziha Fanning (18.6 points, 11.4 rebounds) and Jessika Carter (17.4 points, 14.3 rebounds) lead the Tigers. Warner Robins (18-1) brings a balanced attack led by Kezia Holmes (14.8 points, 3.5 steals) and Shynia Jackson (12.8 points, 7.9 rebounds). The winner will take sole possession of first place in Region 1, with the loser falling into a tie for second place with Bainbridge.
No. 8 Villa Rica at No. 7 Carrollton girls: Villa Rica (19-1) has won 12 straight games since its 58-48 loss to Carrollton on Dec. 13. Carrollton (18-1) has won seven in a row since losing to Mason County, Ky., in the final of the Carolina Invitational. Sophomore Deasia Merrill (21.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists) and Jaila Orozco (15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds) leads Villa Rica.