Early exit sharpens focus for flawless Knights
Class 4A’s boys bracket shapes up to be filled with top 10 showdowns and teams that will take the court on high upset alert. For undefeated Upson-Lee, however, there is no need to remind the Knights how important each playoff game is as it is still fresh on their minds. Upson-Lee enters the playoffs with a flawless 27-0 record, but still has the bitter taste of last year’s 73-56 home loss to New Hampstead in the opening round to sharpen the focus this year. Upson-Lee hosts Region 4 No 4 seed North Clayton in the opening round, a team that snuck into the playoffs with an unimpressive 11-17 record and a timely 61-35 win over Salem in the first round of the region tournament. Following the win over Salem, North Clayton gave Henry County and Eastside competitive games to close the region tournament and will have nothing to lose as they look to play spoiler on Saturday.
Henry County will host Region 2 No. 4 seed Howard in the first round, while Region 5 champion LaGrange hosts West Hall two slots down in the bracket. Henry County’s 21-5 season and LaGrange’s 24-3 run have put them at the top of the Class 4A rankings with the undefeated Knights and could be on a collision course in the Elite 8.
Region 1 No. 2 seed Americus-Sumter ended the regular season with a 59-55 loss at Westover and took an 85-63 defeat to Carver-Columbus in the region tournament. The Panthers’ playoff push opens against a scrappy Thomson team that scored a 70-63 win over Burke County in the region tournament to avoid the first-round matchup with top-seeded Carver-Columbus that now awaits Burke County.
Class AAAA First Round Matchups
Saturday, February 18
R8 #3 North Oconee at R6 #2 Lafayette
R2 #4 Howard at R4 #1 Henry County
R1 #3 Shaw at R3 #2 Richmond Academy
R7 #4 West Hall at R5 #1 LaGrange
R6 #3 Heritage-Catoosa at R8 #2 Stephens County
R4 #4 North Clayton at R2 #1 Upson-Lee
R3 #3 Thomson at R1 #2 Americus-Sumter
R5 #4 Troup at R7 #1 Blessed Trinity
R4 #3 Eastside at R2 #2 Mary Persons
R6 #4 Ridgeland at R8 #1 St. Pius
R5 #3 Cartersville at R7 #2 Marist
R3 #4 Burke County at R1 #1 Carver-Columbus
R2 #3 Perry at R4 #2 Druid Hills
R8 #4 Madison County at R6 #1 Northwest Whitfield
R7 #3 White County at R5 #2 Sandy Creek
R1 #4 Westover at R3 #1 Baldwin