7A girls basketball: A look at each top-10 team
Here’s a look at the top 10 girls teams in Class AAAAAA and how their seasons have progressed and where they might be headed.
The regions are reasonably balanced this season. In many cases, there is a single dominant team that will be hard-pressed to lose the rest of the way. It’s likely that No. 1-ranked Westlake, No. 2 Collins Hill, No. 3 Cherokee and No. 5 Norcross will take long winning streaks into the state tournament, so the rankings might not change much at the top in the next few weeks.
The most compelling region races are likely to come in regions 3 (McEachern, North Cobb, Hillgrove) and 8 (Newton, South Gwinnett, Archer).
This week’s best game is Hillgrove (9-4, 2-0) at North Cobb (13-2, 2-0). That will settle first place in Region 3.
No. 8 Colquitt County travels to Brooklyn this weekend to play T.C. Williams, the No. 1 Class 6A team in Virginia, and Rock Creek Christian, the No. 6 overall team in Maryland, at the Rose Classic Super Jam.
Click on any team’s name below to see schedule and scores.
1. Westlake (13-1) – A quality loss might’ve done as much for Westlake’s reputation as the classification’s No. 1 team as any victory. Westlake’s perfect season ended Dec. 30 with a 77-73 setback to Mercer County, the No. 1 team in Kentucky, according to MaxPreps, and No. 10 nationally in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25. Westlake also defeated Male, Kentucky’s No. 5 team (and, yes, that’s a strange name for a co-ed school), and Miami Country Day during that holiday trip to Naples, Fla. Westlake beat perhaps its toughest Region 2 rival, Wheeler, 68-43 last week and should be heavily favored in each of its remaining 11 regular-season games. A quarterfinalist the past three seasons, Westlake has never won a state title in girls basketball.
2. Collins Hill (13-2) – Collins Hill also represented itself well in a recent loss. The Eagles were beaten by Riverdale – the No. 1 team in Tennessee and No. 4 nationally, per MaxPreps – 70-61 on Dec. 29 on Riverdale’s home floor. Collins Hill’s only other loss is to Holy Innocents’, Georgia’s No. 1 team in Class A (private), on Nov. 24. Collins Hill beat perhaps its toughest Region 6 rival, Mountain View, 81-33 last month, so it’s only serious challenge until the playoffs should come Jan. 27 at St. Francis, Georgia’s No. 3 team in the Class A private division. Collins Hill made the semifinals last season and returned almost every major contributor.
3. Cherokee(13-2) – Cherokee has lost to Collins Hill (69-53 in November) and Holy Innocents’ (58-35 in December) but has earned its high ranking with victories over No. 4 North Forsyth (57-46) and No. 9 North Cobb (58-44). Cherokee will resume its Region 4 schedule Tuesday night against Woodstock, probably Cherokee’s toughest region rival in what’s not otherwise a strong region. The Warriors will be favored in every game from now until the state tournament, where they have reached the quarterfinals twice in the past four seasons but gone no further since 1987.
4. North Forsyth (14-2) – North Forsyth’s only losses are to No. 3 Cherokee and a Tennessee team in Phoenix, Ariz., where the Raiders went 3-1. North Forsyth has some other qualities wins, such as Hillgrove and Archer, but hasn’t defeated any top-10 teams in Georgia. The Raiders should be fine until a big Region 5 game at Lambert (8-6, 1-1) on Jan. 19. North Forsyth won the first meeting only 46-45. North Forsyth is 8-7 in the state playoffs since 2005 but never gone past the quarterfinals.
5. Norcross (14-3) – Norcross’s pedigree suggests the Blue Devils are a better long-term bet than the two teams ranked immediately ahead, but they sit No. 5 for now. They were the state runner-up in 2017 and are a three-time champion this decade. They’ve lost to AAA No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian (64-51 in the opener) and to good-but-not-great Miami (51-35) and Wesleyan Christian (58-56) from out of state. Norcross has beaten No. 2 Harrison and No. 9 Tucker of AAAAAA. The most worthy Region 7 rival is probably Brookwood, which Norcross faces at home on Friday. Norcross beat Brookwood 61-43 last week. Norcross’ toughest opponents until the state tournament likely will be Bearden of Tennessee on Jan. 13 and No. 1 Buford of AAAAA on Jan. 15.
6. Newton (13-2) – Newton defeated its top Region 8 rival, No. 7-ranked South Gwinnett, on Dec. 1 in a victory that holds up as the Rams’ best. It gives them the lead a tough region that also includes Archer, a semifinalist last season (albeit not as strong in 2018). Newton plays Archer on Friday and South Gwinnett on Jan. 17, both at home. Newton’s losses are to AAAAAA No. 2 Harrison (48-40 on Nov. 20) and Shades Valley, the No. 5 team in Alabama’s Class 6A (54-52 on Dec. 30). The Rams have beaten AAA’s No. 3 team, Americus-Sumter, 56-28. Newton is up-and-coming, having not advanced past the second round in the state tournament since 1973.
7. South Gwinnett (14-1) – South Gwinnett’s only misstep was the 61-58 home loss to Newton on Dec. 1. The Comets get another shot Jan. 17. South Gwinnett has wins over AAA No. 8 Hart County and Battery Creek, a top-10 AAA team in South Carolina, but has not played any teams from the highest classification outside of its region. The Comets are looking to advance in the state playoffs for the first time since making the finals in 2007.
8. Colquitt County (14-3) – Colquitt County made the quarterfinals last year for the first time since 2006. This is probably an even better team. Colquitt has lost only to No. 1 Westlake (55-46), AAAAAA No. 5 Bainbridge (47-42) and Rickards, the No. 1 team in Florida’s Class 6A (62-58 in overtime). Colquitt then avenged the loss to Rickards, winning 65-45 on Dec. 29. This weekend, Colquitt plays T.C. Williams, the No. 1 Class 6A team in Virginia, and Rock Creek Christian, the No. 6 overall team in Maryland, at the Rose Classic Super Jam in Brooklyn. Colquitt’s Region 1 is pretty good as Camden County (No. 13) and Lowndes (No. 17) are each top-20 teams in the highest class, according to MaxPreps.
9. North Cobb (13-2) – North Cobb has registered the most significant upset of the season, a 57-51 victory over four-time defending champion McEachern. It was McEachern’s first region loss since 2014-15. North Cobb doesn’t have many other significant wins, though it did beat AAAAA No. 8 Arabia Mountain 45-35. North Cobb was beaten by No. 3 Cherokee (58-44) on Nov. 28 and suffered an upset of its own Dec. 21, when it lost to unranked (but 10-5) Cedar Shoals 55-47. Region 3 should be a battle royal among North Cobb, McEachern and Hillgrove. In fact, North Cobb (13-2, 2-0) plays for first place Tuesday night against Hillgrove (9-4, 2-0). North Cobb got as far as the semifinals in 2013 but hasn’t advanced since 2014.
10. McEachern (7-5) – Despite its record, McEachern is still the pick of many to win a fifth straight championship. McEachern was 9-5 this time a year ago but won its final 15 games. Four of its five losses this season are to out-of-state teams. One of those was DeSoto, the No. 3 team overall in Texas and No. 13 nationally according to MaxPreps’ computer rankings. McEachern came up short 37-35 in the kind of quality loss that sharpens a talented team for the stretch run. McEachern gets a rematch with North Cobb, the only Georgia team to beat the Indians, on Jan. 19.