The second round of the Class AAA state high school basketball tournament has ended, and it’s beginning to take on a distinctive low-country flavor.
Five Savannah-area schools have advanced to the boys and girls quarterfinals — Jenkins, Islands and Liberty County (nearby Hinesville) on the boys side and Johnson and Beach on the girls. And although not surprising after reclassification, only three metro Atlanta teams — Pace Academy and Lovett (boys) and Greater Atlanta Christian (girls) — reached the quarters. Westside-Macon has the mid-state covered, and Morgan County and Calhoun represent the east and north.
On the boys side, six No. 1 seeds have advanced. East Hall, the No. 1 seed from Region 7, and Crisp County, the top seed from Region 1, were eliminated in the second round. Four top seeded girls teams have been eliminated, including Redan, Haralson County, Crisp County and Monroe.
Here were some highlights on the boys side:
— Tenth-ranked Islands, the No. 3 seed from Region 3, defeated sixth-ranked East Hall, the top-seed from Region 7, 89-62. Islands took a commanding 24-10 lead after the first quarter and led 45-22 at halftime. Trae Broadnax scored 27 points; Justin Cutter added 11.
The effort gives Islands an all-expenses paid trip to Hinesville to face hot-shooting Liberty County quarterfinals. Not the greatest prize in the world, but opportunity awaits.
Liberty County, the Region 2 top-seed, put on a show against Coahulla Creek, the Region 6 No. 3 seed, during a 105-62 victory. The Panthers, defending state champions, jumped to a 41-4 (not a typo) lead after one quarter and never looked back. Junior Will Richardson led all scorers with 40 points. Davion Mitchell, who is committed to Auburn, scored 22.
— Fifth-ranked Jenkins, the No. 1 seed from Region 3, took care of Cedar Grove, the No. 2 seed from Region 5, 71-56. Jenkin’s Trevion Lamar scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half, allowing the Warriors to outscore Cedar Grove 42-33 after the break. Tre Mays added 11 points for Jenkins.
Jenkins travels to Calhoun in the quarterfinals after the Yellow Jackets advanced past Central-Macon, 67-61.
— Region 4 top-seed and No. 1-ranked Westside-Macon handled Region 8 three-seed Monroe Area 88-57 and will travel to Region 5 top-seeded Pace Academy for the quarterfinals. Second-ranked Pace squeaked by Johnson-Savannah 49-41.
The game sets up one of the most anticipated matchups on the boys side — Pace’s 6-foot-10 power forward Wendell Carter Jr. vs. Westside’s 6-8 small forward Khavon Moore. Carter, a five-star recruit who signed with Duke, is the top-rated senior in the state and fourth nationally, according 24/7sports.com.
Moore, also a five-star recruit, is the top-rated junior player in the state and ninth nationally. And just for a look at the 24/7Sports Composite comparison for two of the best players in the country: Carter- 0.9987. Moore- 0.9953.
If you can find a ticket, buy it, but I imagine it will be standing room only at Pace Academy.
In the other matchup Lovett, the three-seed from Region 5, handled Crisp County 71-69 to advance. Crisp’s first round victory over Savannah, 108-106, is the highest scoring game in GHSA Tournament history.
Class AAA boys rankings and how they fared:
1. Westside-Macon (faces Pace Academy in Elite Eight)
2. Pace Academy (faces Westside-Macon in Elite Eight)
3. Morgan County (faces Lovett in Elite Eight)
4. Liberty County (faces Islands in Elite Eight)
5. Jenkins (faces Calhoun in Elite Eight)
6. East Hall (eliminated)
7. Greater Atlanta Christian (eliminated)
8. Cedar Grove (eliminated)
9. Johnson-Savannah (eliminated)
10. Islands (faces Liberty County in Elite Eight)
On the girls’ side, the hopes for a rematch between No. 1 Johnson and No. 2 Beach are still alive after the second round.
Top-ranked Johnson-Savannah, the top-seed from Region 3, was not challenged in the second round by North Hall, although it had to overcome a slow start. Johnson trailed 12-10 after the first quarter and led by four at halftime, but Sy’Marieona Williams (18 points) and Alexis Pierce (17 points) got hot in the second half to help Johnson outscore North Hall 36-15.
The Lady Atomsmashers will host seventh-ranked Peach County, the Region 4 No. 2 seed, which outlasted fourth-ranked Haralson County, 56-55.
— Second-ranked Beach, the two-seed from Region 3, knocked off Redan, the top-seed from Region 5, 61-41. The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Central-Macon, which defeated Hart County, 59-46, in the second round.
— Third-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian, the No. 1 seed from Region 7, had no problem with Cook County, the two seed from Region 1. The Lady Spartans won 84-34 and were led by Robyn Benton (18 points), Taylor Sutton (15 points) and Tamiah Lewis (12 points). Ciara Reynolds added 11 points.
GAC will face Tattnall County, the top-seed from Region 2, which defeated fifth-ranked Ringgold 49-38.
— Morgan County, top-seed from Region 8, had little trouble in the second round as it moved past Pierce County, the two-seed from Region 2, 56-39. Morgan will face Dawson County, the Region 7 two-seed, which defeated Monroe 63-53.
Class AAA girls rankings and how they fared
1. Johnson-Savannah (faces Peach County in Elite Eight)
2. Beach (faces Central-Macon is Elite Eight)
3. Greater Atlanta Christian (faces Tattnall County in Elite Eight)
4. Haralson County (eliminated)5. Ringgold (eliminated)
6. Franklin County (eliminated)
7. Peach County (faces Johnson-Savannah in Elite Eight)
8. Monroe (eliminated)
9. Hart County (eliminated)
10. Calhoun (eliminated)