We are now just a little less than four weeks removed from the end of the high school basketball season -- and there are some exciting seeding battles heating up on the area hardwood.
The next few days will o much to decide which programs will head into their region tournaments with top seeds and, ostensibly, the easier roads to the state playoffs that come with those seeds.
Tonight's slate of contests features a number of key showdowns in northeast Georgia regions, and with that in mind let's take a look, region-by-region at how things are shaping for the 2014 postseason.
On the boys side, everyone is chasing Clarke Central, which is perfect in 8-AAAAA. Yet Gainesville may be starting to find some rhythm under new head coach Benjie Wood, as the Red Elephants have moved into fifth place and are battling Cedar Shoals for fourth seed. Gainesville is a game-and-a-half behind the Jaguars. Flowery Branch, meanwhile, is still looking to find its pace under new head coach David Sokol and move up from eighth place.
The girls side of 8-AAAAA also has a clear front-runner, with Salem also sporting a perfect league mark. Gainesville is two games back in second place, while Loganville and Clarke Central are currently tied for third. Flowery Branch, meanwhile, is very much in the mix, just a game behind Clarke Central and Loganville, with a head-to-head victory over Loganville.
None of the teams in 8-AAAA have played many region games, but even with a small sample size, defending boys champion Johnson is clearly at the top at this point. The Knights are 2-0 in region play but 13-3 overall. Yet Eastside proved a tough foe last season and could be a thorn again this year, sporting a 14-2 record, 2-0 in 8-AAAA. Madison County is also 2-0 in 8-AAAA, though the Red Devils are 5-12 overall and its two wins have come against teams with losing records. Lumpkin County is 1-2 with the two defeats coming to Johnson and Eastside, while Chestatee is looking to bounce back from an 0-3 start to 8-AAAA play.
Chestatee's girls meanwhile, have had no issue in 8-AAAA, starting 3-0 while sprinting into the lead. Lanier and Stephens County are also in the mix but have only played one league game, going 1-0. Meanwhile, Lumpkin County is using 8-AAAA play as a platform for a rebound, going 2-1 in 8-AAAA. The Lady Indians have won just one game outside 8-AAAA.
Both defending region champions have started to put strangleholds on this league. The Buford boys and girls are both 7-0, and it will take some upsets to knock the Wolves from their perch.
On the boys side, the Dawson County, East Hall and White County are all chasing Buford with two region defeats apiece. The Tigers, Vikings and Warriors have each defeated each other with one loss apiece to Buford.
On the girls side, North Hall and White County are tied for second place with two 7-AAA defeats each. The Lady Warriors do have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lady Trojans. Dawson County is also close behind at 4-3 in 7-AAA, including a win over White County. Banks County is also 3-3.
East Jackson's and Jackson County's boys are each playing catch-up, trailing first place Elbert County and Morgan County. Hart County is second, with Franklin County third.
The Lady Eagles and Panthers are also trailing, with Morgan County's girls sitting in first and Franklin County second.
The Jefferson boys are rolling so far, ranked sixth in Class AA and undefeated in 8-AA. The Dragons are looking to pull away with the No. 1 seed, but Union County and Rabun County are not far behind.
The girls side of 8-AA should also feature some big games down the stretch. Rabun County is currently undefeated in region play, though Union County is also perfect at 1-0 and Jefferson is not far behind at 3-1.
The Lakeview Academy boys are holding on to a one-game lead in subregion A at 5-2. Pinecrest Academy -- which knocked off the Lions head-to-head -- are one game behind. The other side of the region bears a familiar name, as state semifinalist from a year ago, Athens Christian is currently 9-0.
Meanwhile, the Lady Lions are also leading the way in subregion A, holding a half-game lead over Class A power Towns County (4-1). The two foes have not played each other yet.
George Walton is undefeated in 8B-A, including a win over Lakeview.