Two boys basketball teams that finished as state runners-up in their classifications last season will meet in the second round of the Class AAAAAA tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday when third-ranked Jonesboro travels to No. 9 Allatoona.
It is the only second-round game in the boys’ bracket matching ranked teams.
Jonesboro lost to Liberty County 58-52 in the Class AAAA final last season but is seeking its fourth consecutive trip to the championship game. It won AAAA titles in 2014 and 2015.
The Cardinals (23-5) are led by McDonald’s All-American M.J. Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard who has not announced his college decision. Walker averages 27.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists, and he scored 33 points in the Cardinals’ 56-49 victory over Richmond Hill in the first round. Jonesboro is 15-1 in the state tournament during Walker’s career.
Jonesboro was the regular-season winner in 4-AAAAAA but got the No. 2 seed for state after being upset by Stephenson 61-58 in the tournament final.
Allatoona is still searching for its first state title after losing in the Class AAAAA championship game the past two seasons. The Buccaneers lost to Brunswick 49-32 in the 2015 final and to Miller Grove 50-48 last season.
The Buccaneers (19-8) have won 12 consecutive games since a 7-8 start against a rugged schedule, winning the regular-season and tournament titles in 6-AAAAAA and beating Winder-Barrow 69-37 in the first round of the state tournament.
Allatoona is led by first-team all-region players Trey Doomes and Michael Johnson. Doomes, the only returning starter from last season’s team, had 23 points and eight rebounds against Winder-Barrow, and Johnson scored 13 points.
The winner will meet Tri-Cities or Valdosta in the quarterfinals.
Here are some of the other top second-round games in Class AAAAAA:
*Harrison at Tucker: Both teams ended the season in the top 10 in the highest class last year. Tucker made it to the final before losing to McEachern, and Harrison was ranked No. 10 after a second-round loss to Parkview. This season, eighth-ranked Tucker (22-6) suffered a four-game losing streak in December but has since won 14 of 16, including a 53-48 victory over No. 7 Lovejoy to win the 4-AAAAAA championship. No. 4 Harrison (23-5) settled for the No. 2 seed from 6-AAAAAA after a loss to No. 5 Creekview in the region final. Region player of the year Sydne Wiggins missed that game but returned in a first-round win over Dacula last week.
*Lovejoy at Creekview: Lovejoy (24-4) won the regular-season title in Region 4 but fell to the No. 2 seed for state when it lost to Tucker in the region final. Lovejoy’s only other loss to a Georgia team this season came against Mundy’s Mill on Jan. 28. The Wildcats’ 54-20 win over Richmond Hill in the first round broke the school record for victories. Creekview (21-7), on the other hand, finished second to Harrison in Region 6 but earned the No. 1 seed when it upset the Hoyas in the tournament final. Both teams are trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in school history, according to the Georgia High School Basketball Project.
*Valdosta at Tri-Cities: Valdosta (16-11) is one of two remaining No. 4 seeds in the boys’ bracket (Glynn Academy is the other). The Wildcats’ 56-55 victory over Lakeside-Evans completed a four-game sweep for Region 1 against Region 3. It was Valdosta’s first win in the state playoffs since 2012. Tri-Cities (17-13) has gotten hot at the right time. The Bulldogs were seeded sixth in the Region 5 tournament but beat No. 7 seed New Manchester and third-seeded Alexander to reach the state playoffs. They upset fourth-ranked Hughes in the semifinals and earned the No. 2 seed, then beat fifth-ranked Alpharetta in the first round of the state tournament.
*Dacula at Brunswick: Sixth-ranked Dacula (20-8) finished as the second-place team behind No. 2-ranked Gainesville in Region 8, and three of the Falcons’ eight losses came against the Red Elephants. Dacula is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 1984. Brunswick (20-8), which spent time in the top 10 earlier this season, was the No. 3 seed in the Region 2 tournament but won the title to earn a No. 1 seed for state. The Pirates were among three teams from the region (Effingham County and Glynn Academy were the others) to win first-round games. Brunswick won the Class AAAAA championship in 2015 but missed the tournament last year.
(R2 #4) Glynn Academy at (R6 #2) South Cobb
(R1 #3) Coffee at (R5 #1) South Paulding
(R8 #2) Dacula at (R2 #1) Brunswick
(R1 #2) Northside-Warner Robins at (R7 #1) Pope
(R2 #2) Effingham County at (R8 #1) Gainesville
(R5 #3) Hughes at (R1 #1) Lee County
(R4 #2) Jonesboro at (R6 #1) Allatoona
(R1 #4) Valdosta at (R5 #2) Tri-Cities
(R6 #2) Harrison at (R4 #1) Tucker
(R1 #3) Houston County at (R5 #1) Douglas County
(R4 #4) Stephenson at (R6 #3) River Ridge
(R1 #2) Valdosta at (R7 #1) Northview
(R4 #3) Jonesboro at (R8 #1) Winder-Barrow
(R3 #4) Greenbrier at (R5 #3) Mays
(R4 #2) Lovejoy at (R6 #1) Creekview
(R7 #3) Chattahoochee at (R3 #1) Grovetown