Class AAAAAA basketball was considered by some to be as deep and wide open as any classification in the state, and that theory got some support as four unranked boys teams earned spots in the quarterfinals Thursday, one night after three unranked girls teams advanced to the final eight.
The biggest surprise on the boys’ side was Northside-Warner Robins’ 80-61 victory over eighth-ranked Pope. Northside entered the state tournament with a losing record (13-14) and is currently ranked No. 31 in AAAAAA by MaxPreps. Northside’s opponent in the quarterfinals will be Brunswick, which was in the top 10 earlier in the season but dropped out when it lost six of 10 games from Jan. 7 to Feb. 3. Brunswick reached the quarterfinals with a 66-64 victory over sixth-ranked Dacula.
Other unranked boys teams in the quarterfinals are Tri-Cities and South Cobb. No. 1 South Paulding, No. 2 Gainesville, No. 4 Hughes and No. 9 Allatoona are the only ranked boys teams remaining. Allatoona, a state finalist the past two seasons, eliminated No. 3 Jonesboro 61-56 on Thursday.
The unranked girls teams in the quarterfinals are Stephenson (beat River Ridge 59-41), Mays (beat Greenbrier 81-28) and Chattahoochee (beat No. 6 Grovetown 61-48). They’ll be joined in the final eight by No. 1 Northview, No. 2 Douglas County, No. 3 Winder-Barrow, No. 4 Harrison and No. 7 Lovejoy.
*Close calls: Virtually all of Thursday night’s boys games came down to the wire. Three of the games that ended in regulation were decided by five points or less and three more went to overtime, including two – South Cobb over Glynn Academy 88-79 and Tri-Cities over Valdosta 66-65 – that went to double overtime. Only two of the eight games were blowouts. Northside-Warner Robins had an easy time with Pope, and second-ranked Gainesville had little trouble with Effingham County 70-44.
*How the seeds fared: Only four No. 1-seeded boys teams and three No. 1 girls teams remain after two rounds of the tournament. The top-seeded boys are South Paulding, Brunswick, Gainesville and Allatoona, and the girls top seeds still alive are Douglas County, Northview and Winder-Barrow. The remainder of the boys bracket includes three No. 2 seeds and one No. 3 seed (Hughes). The girls field includes two No. 2 seeds, two No. 3 seeds, and the only No. 4 seed remaining in either bracket (Stephenson).
*How the regions fared: Region 5 has five teams remaining (three boys, two girls), the most of any region in the classification. It is the only region with three teams remaining in either the boys or girls bracket. South Paulding, Tri-Cities and Hughes remain for the boys, while Douglas County and Mays are alive for the girls. Region 1, which put four boys teams and two girls teams into the second round, has just one remaining, the Northside-Warner Robins boys. Region 4’s four girls teams that reached the second round went 2-2.
*Thursday’s best (boys): Jonesboro’s M.J. Walker, a McDonald’s All-American, scored 24 points in his final high school game, a 61-56 loss to Allatoona. The Cardinals had two state titles and a runner-up finish in his four-year career. … Ralveke Orizu scored 22 points and Trevin Wade had 21 in a victory against Glynn Academy, which got 24 points from Durand Green and 23 from Santana Young. … Brunswick’s Marcus Scott drove for a short jumper in the lane as time expired in the Pirates’ victory over Dacula. … South Paulding’s Ja’Cori Wilson had 33 points and Kane Williams added 25 in the Spartans’ 90-82 overtime victory against Coffee.
*Looking ahead: The girls teams from Harrison and Douglas County have both spent all season ranked in the top four, but only one will make it to the final four. That’s because they’ll meet at Douglas County in the quarterfinals. The winner will play either top-ranked Northview or unranked Stephenson in the semifinals. It’s a similar situation for the boys from No. 2 Gainesville and No. 4 Hughes, who will meet at Gainesville in the third round. Gainesville has won its first two playoff games by an average of 33 points.
(R6 #2) South Cobb 88, (R2 #4) Glynn Academy 79
(R5 #1) South Paulding 90, (R1 #3) Coffee 82
(R2 #1) Brunswick 66, (R8 #2) Dacula 64
(R1 #2) Northside-Warner Robins 80, (R7 #1) Pope 61
(R8 #1) Gainesville 70, (R2 #2) Effingham County 44
(R5 #3) Hughes 59, (R1 #1) Lee County 56
(R6 #1) Allatoona 61, (R4 #2) Jonesboro 56
(R5 #2) Tri-Cities 66, (R1 #4) Valdosta 65
(R6 #2) Harrison 43, (R4 #1) Tucker 35
(R5 #1) Douglas County 68, (R1 #3) Houston County 23
(R4 #4) Stephenson 59, (R6 #3) River Ridge 41
(R7 #1) Northview 74, (R1 #2) Valdosta 54
(R8 #1) Winder-Barrow 38, (R4 #3) Jonesboro 34
(R5 #3) Mays 81, (R3 #4) Greenbrier 28
(R4 #2) Lovejoy 35, (R6 #1) Creekview 32
(R7 #3) Chattahoochee 61, (R3 #1) Grovetown 48
(R6 #2) South Cobb at (R5 #1) South Paulding
(R1 #2) Northside-Warner Robins at (R2 #1) Brunswick
(R5 #3) Hughes at (R8 #1) Gainesville
(R5 #2) Tri-Cities at (R6 #1) Allatoona
(R6 #2) Harrison at (R5 #1) Douglas County
(R4 #4) Stephenson at (R7 #1) Northview
(R5 #3) Mays at (R8 #1) Winder-Barrow
(R7 #3) Chattahoochee at (R4 #2) Lovejoy