Northview girls, South Paulding boys put No. 1 rankings on the line
Five of the top seven girls teams and four top 10 boys teams still have championship hopes as they compete Tuesday and Wednesday for spots in the Class AAAAAA basketball semifinals, to be played Saturday at Fort Valley State.
The Northview girls and South Paulding boys hold the No. 1 rankings heading into the quarterfinals, which will be played over the next two nights. South Paulding enters the week with a 19-game winning streak, while Northview has won 15 straight. Neither has won a state championship.
Other ranked boys teams include No. 2 Gainesville, No. 4 Hughes and No. 9 Allatoona. The other top 10 girls teams are No. 2 Douglas County, No. 3 Winder-Barrow, No. 4 Harrison and No. 7 Lovejoy.
Here’s a look at all of the Class AAAAAA quarterfinal games:
*South Cobb at South Paulding, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday: South Cobb (22-7) came into the state tournament with three losses in its last five games, but the Eagles reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006 with close victories against Lanier (65-55) and Glynn Academy (88-79 in double overtime). South Paulding’s only loss came on Dec. 17 against North Cobb Christian, 51-49. Guard Kane Williams (averaging 17 points and nine rebounds) is a Georgia State signee and was co-player of the year in Region 5.
*Northside-Warner Robins at Brunswick, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Northside and Brunswick are the only remaining teams, boys or girls, from south of the metro Atlanta area. Northside (15-14) was 12-13 in the regular season but has won three of four postseason games, including an 80-61 victory over eighth-ranked Pope in the second round of state. Brunswick (21-8), a state champion in 2015, was the No. 3 seed in the Region 2 tournament but won the championship. The Pirates beat sixth-ranked Dacula 66-64 last week.
*Hughes at Gainesville, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Hughes (22-8) is ranked No. 4 but was upset in the Region 5 semifinals, putting the Panthers in No. 2 Gainesville’s quarter of the bracket. Hughes junior guard Landers Nolley, region co-player of the year, averages about 25 points per game and has offers from Florida State and Georgia Tech, among others. Gainesville (28-1) is led by Region 8 player of the year Bailey Minor. The Red Elephants have won 12 straight since their only loss, 63-60 to Cedar Shoals on Jan. 14.
*Tri-Cities at Allatoona, 7 p.m. Wednesday: Tri-Cities (17-13) was the No. 6 seed in the Region 5 tournament but won three of four games to earn the No. 2 seed. The Bulldogs won their first two state-tournament games by a total of four points. Region 6 champion Allatoona (20-8) has won 13 consecutive games since a 7-8 start and is trying to reach the championship game for the third straight year and win its first title. Trey Doomes is the only returning starter from the team that lost to Miller Grove in last year’s final.
*Harrison at Douglas County, 7 p.m. Tuesday: Region 6 player of the year Sydne Wiggins leads Harrison (24-5) into this matchup of teams that have been ranked in the top four all season. Both teams had success in the highest classification last season – Douglas County reached the semifinals, and Harrison lost in the second round but finished ranked No. 10. Douglas County (26-3) features a potent one-two punch of Arsula Clark and Amari Robinson, who led the first-teamers on the Region 5 all-region team.
*Stephenson at Northview, 7 p.m. Tuesday: This game matches the state’s top-ranked team (Northview) against the only No. 4 seed remaining (Stephenson). Northview (27-3) is led by sophomore Ashlee Austin (14.3 points, 9.0 rebounds) and senior Shannon Titus (14.0 points, 7.3 rebounds). Stephenson (20-10) is DeKalb County’s only remaining hope to extend the county’s streak of state championships in the second-highest class to six. The Jaguars have won three state titles, most recently in 2015.
*Mays at Winder-Barrow, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Region 5 player of the year Kamiyah Street leads a Mays team (19-9) that finished in second place during the regular season but was upset in the region tournament semifinals and settled for the No. 3 seed. Winder-Barrow (24-5) has continued to win without its best player – Olivia Nelson-Ododa, the nation’s top-ranked junior, was lost to a season-ending injury on Jan. 31 – but it hasn’t been easy. The Bulldoggs won their first two playoff games by eight and four points.
*Chattahoochee at Lovejoy, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Chattahoochee (22-6) is probably the biggest surprise among the eight quarterfinalists. The Cougars, seeded No. 3 out of Region 7, had not won a state playoff game since 2011, but they’ve had a relatively easy time in victories over New Manchester (30-19) and sixth-ranked Grovetown (61-48). Lovejoy (25-4), which is in the quarters for the first time, was the regular-season champ in Region 4 but took the No. 2 seed after losing to Tucker in the region-tournament final.