Hoops season recap

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The Class AA basketball season ended on Saturday at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion, with South Atlanta crowned as boys champion and Laney taking home the girls title. It was the second state championship in program history for both teams.

Boys

For South Atlanta, the state title game against Swainsboro was decided early. The Hornets controlled the game from the jump, but it really got out of hand in the third quarter. That’s when they outscored the Tigers 22-2 to force a fourth-quarter running clock. The end result was a 35-point victory — the score was 68-33 — which is the fourth largest margin of victory for a boys championship game dating back to 1922, according to information provided to the AJC by the Georgia High School Basketball Project.

The Hornets were the state’s top-ranked team all season long and remain that way in the final rankings. Next season could be a different story however. The Hornets’ roster consisted of only 10 players and eight of them were seniors.

1. South Atlanta (29-1)
2. Swainsboro (21-11)
3. Dublin (23-5)
4. Laney (25-6)
5. Josey (23-8)
6. Butler (18-9)
7. Early County (23-8)
8. Chattooga (26-2)
9. Washington County (15-10)
10. Banks County (23-5)

The Tigers’ emotional season, which was dedicated to their fallen coach Bobby Andrews, who died shortly after last season, ends with an improbable postseason run to to the title game and No. 2 ranking. They’re joined by Washington County — a team that nearly beat South Atlanta in the quarterfinals before falling in overtime — as the only two ranked teams with double-digit losses.

Thomasville, which was the No. 1-ranked team in the preseason, falls entirely out of the rankings after a second round exit at the hands of Chattooga, a team that played above expectations by finishing with just two losses.

Girls

The Laney Lady Wildcats rolled through the postseason, with all victories coming in double digits except the title game, which they won by nine points, 85-76, over Rabun County. It was a dominating season all around for the Lady Wildcats, who came within six points of an undefeated season, losing to North Augusta (South Carolina), the top-ranked team in South Carolina, regardless of classification, which went 28-0 on the way to an AAAA title. No other team came closer to North Augusta than Laney.

And the Lady Wildcats aren’t going anywhere. De’Sha Benjamin, their best player, returns next season for her senior year, along with Jaiden Hamilton, who scored 22 points and 13 rebounds in the title game.

Here are the girls final rankings:

1. Laney (31-1)
2. Rabun County (29-3)
3. Model (25-6)
4. Fitzgerald (22-3)
5. Bryan County (24-5)
6. Dodge County (25-4)
7. Vidalia (23-6)
8. Bleckley County (20-12)
9. Heard County (22-7)
10. Hapeville Charter (21-7)

As for my annual predictions, I correctly picked both the boys and girls champions. Below is a look at the predictions and links to other articles that highlight the AA basketball season.

For the remainder of the school year, this blog space will be used for lacrosse coverage.

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