Girls: Region champs play host to Elite 8 fate
The second round of the GHSA basketball state playoffs return to the hardwood this Wednesday as the girls face off with Elite 8 berths on the line. The boys’ action will resume on Thursday as the 16 remaining teams play for their shot at the quarterfinals.
Each of the eight region champions and resultant No 1 seeds in the tournament survived the first round and will host a second round filled with intriguing matchups.
North Clayton now rides a 16-game winning streak into the second round after starting the season with a troubling 3-9 record. That adversity and challenging slate to open the season has emboldened the Eagles. They have faced five of the teams they lost to during that early rough stretch (Westlake, Henry County, Luella, Woodward Academy and Salem) and scored victories in all five latter rematches to fuel this hot streak. The Eagles host a 14-14 Madison County team that survived a 48-45 road win over Heritage-Catoosa in the first round Wednesday night.
Awaiting the winner of Madison County and North Clayton will be the winner of Richmond Academy and Sandy Creek. Richmond Academy overcame a 37-27 halftime deficit to Shaw in its first-round matchup by pouring in a 25-point third quarter and outscoring the Raiders 17-14 in the final frame to steal a 69-68 win. Richmond Academy will have to start a lot faster against Sandy Creek, which held Blessed Trinity to just 28 points in its 59-28 first round victory.
In the bottom left quadrant of the bracket North Oconee and Spalding square off after dominating the opening round. North Oconee cruised past Pickens 62-37, while Spalding held Salem to just 22 points in a 58-22 blowout that saw junior duo Kirah Milner (13) and Kiana Banks (12) outscore the opposing Seminoles. The Titans and Jags will play for the chance to face either Columbus or West Hall in the quarterfinals. Columbus took a No. 2 seed into the playoffs after falling in a thrilling 54-53 region championship game against rival Carver. The Blue Devils came out focused in the first round and cruised past Burke County 69-49. West Hall posted 78 points in its first-round victory over Troup County, which was the highest output in all of Class 4A this weekend.
The upper right quadrant of the bracket is led by red-hot Jefferson, which earned the top seed out of Region 8 and hasn’t lost to a Class 4A opponent all season. The Dragons face Luella, which comes off a 68-54 win over Perry in the first round. Perry’s Kirondria Smith netted 25 points in the loss to Luella and the Panthers were able to score 22 points in the third quarter. However, it was a four-point second quarter that put Perry in an early hole and Luella responded with a 21-10 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter to close out the win.
Carver-Columbus and Chapel Hill will take on the winner of Jefferson and Luella. Chapel Hill has a 59-46 win over Sandy Creek on its resume and Alexia Wallace leads a strong senior class. The Tigers feature a deep roster and light up the scoreboard with a 60 points per game average. Carver-Columbus earned the top seed out of the competitive Region 1 and have split meetings with both of the Georgia schools they have lost to this season (Americus-Sumter, Columbus).
The lower right quadrant displays a highly-competitive quartet of teams. Region 6 champion Northwest Whitfield faces scoring machine Brooke Moore and Henry County, while Region 3 champion Cross Creek puts a sterling 24-4 season on the line against 6-foot-1 senior Shania Woodward and LaGrange.
GIRLS SECOND ROUND PAIRINGS
R8 #3 Madison County at R4 #1 North Clayton
R3 #2 Richmond Academy at R5 #1 Sandy Creek
R8 #2 North Oconee at R2 #1 Spalding
R1 #2 Columbus at R7 #1 West Hall
R4 #3 Luella at R8 #1 Jefferson
R5 #3 Chapel Hill at R1 #1 Carver-Columbus
R4 #2 Henry County at R6 #1 Northwest Whitfield
R5 #2 LaGrange at R3 #1 Cross Creek
BOYS SECOND ROUND PAIRINGS
R6 #2 Lafayette at R4 #1 Henry County
R3 #2 Richmond Academy at R5 #1 LaGrange
R8 #2 Stephens County at R2 #1 Upson-Lee
R3 #3 Thomson at R7 #1 Blessed Trinity
R2 #2 Mary Persons at R8 #1 St. Pius
R7 #2 Marist at R1 #1 Carver-Columbus
R2 #3 Perry at R6 #1 Northwest Whitfield
R1 #4 Westover at R5 #2 Sandy Creek