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Thursday May 7th, 2015 3:48AM

Basketball championships wrap winter sports, while spring finds its rhythm

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
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As anyone with the opportunity to enjoy this weekend's weather can tell you, spring is most certainly in the air.

And as any high school sports fan can tell you, it's already been in the air for a few weeks -- though all spring competitions can begin to take center stage this week, at least until the end of the week.

Basketball has one last gasp remaining, and it should be a good one this weekend in Macon, as the GHSA championships get underway Saturday around the well-worn surroundings of the Centreplex.

There are plenty of intriguing match-ups, not least of which for the two area teams still standing, as Buford's boys and girls get ready for title shots against familiar and highly-touted foes.

The Wolves (27-5) will take on Morgan County (23-5) in a highly anticipated rematch -- in fact it will be the two foes' third contest of the season -- that will feature enough Division I talent to fill an entire starting line-up.

Morgan County -- which is led by guard Tookie Brown (Mississippi State signee, averaging team-high 25.6 points per game), center C.J. Turman (Tennessee signee, averaging 12.1 ppg, 10.1 rebounds per game and 4.7 blocks per game) and forward Jailyn Ingram (a sophomore starting to pile up Division I offers, averaging 16.1 ppg and 7.1 rpg) -- won the first battle of the season with Buford 76-65 way back on Nov. 26.

The Wolves, meanwhile, got some payback with a 69-58 win when the two teams matched up again on Feb. 1. Both teams won at home, so a neutral venue should showdown could prove intriguing.

Buford's Rakim Lubin (UConn signee) and sophomore guard D'Marcus Simonds will lead the Wolves -- the pair racked up 67 points between them in Saturday's 92-76 semifinal defeat of Callaway. The Wolves last played for a championship in 2011, finishing as Class AA runner-up.

The Class AAA boys title showdown is set for 4:45 p.m. Saturday.

The girls championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will also feature two familiar foes.

St. Pius is looking for its second straight state crown, while Buford's girls are gunning for their first since 2011 after finishing as Class AA runner-up in 2012.

The Lady Golden Lions (29-3) denied the Lady Wolves (30-2) a shot at the Class AAA title last season in a 56-43 quarterfinal victory in Buford.

While plenty of St. Pius standouts return from that team -- most notably guards Asia Durr and Jasmine Carter -- Buford returns just two real starters from a year ago. Regardless, Buford has put together a winning formula based on a sweltering defense that will do its best to deny St. Pius' dynamic guard duo.

Durr scored 32 points in last year's quarterfinal contest and is averaging 24.1 ppg this season -- along with 7.1 rpg and 2.5 steals per game. Carter is averaging 13.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, and 2.6 spg.

Buford will counter with a team that can get scoring from a number of sources, including N.C. State bound standout Camille Anderson and Purdue-bound center Bree Horrocks. And it will be interesting to see how the Lady Wolves apply their tenacious defense -- they can both press or play tough in the half-court (as they showed in Saturday's 63-46 semifinal win over Pike County).

We'll have to wait six more days to find out the answer.

In the meantime there are plenty of big baseball, golf, soccer, tennis and track competitions to keep our attention. In fact region competition will even get underway for a number of teams, so while plenty of programs are still finding their feet -- especially after the delays and cancelations of this inhospitable winter -- there isn't much more time for preparation. The future is now.

AREA SPORTS SCHEDULE MARCH 3-8
Monday, March 3
BASEBALL:
Berkmar at West Hall
Chestatee at Lakeview Academy
Franklin, N.C. at Rabun County
Gainesville at Habersham Central
Johnson at Duluth
Prince Avenue at Jackson County


Tuesday, March 4
BASEBALL:
Elbert County at Jefferson
North Hall at Lanier

SOCCER:
East Hall at Mountain View
Fannin County at Dawson County
Flowery Branch at North Hall
Gainesville at Salem
Johnson at Lumpkin County
Lakeview Academy at George Walton
Rabun County at Banks County
Social Circle at Jackson County
West Hall at Johns Creek


Wednesday, March 5
BASEBALL:
Buford at GAC
Flowery Branch at West Forsyth
Habersham Central at Gainesville
Jackson County at West Hall
Johnson at Clarke Central
Lumpkin County at North Hall
North Forsyth at Chestatee

SOCCER:
West Hall at North Forsyth


Thursday, March 6
BASEBALL:
East Hall at Walt Disney World Sports Complex Tournament
Jefferson at Elbert County
Westminster at Buford


Friday, March 7
BASEBALL:
Buford at Banks County
Clarke Central at Johnson
East Hall at Walt Disney World Sports Complex Tournament
Gainesville at Mountain View
Greene County at Jefferson (doubleheader)
Habersham Central at Lanier
North Forsyth vs. Peachtree Ridge (Coolray Field)
Social Circle at Rabun County (doubleheader)

SOCCER:

Cartersville at Dawson County
Gainesville at West Hall
Forsyth Central at North Hall
Franklin County at Jackson County
Jefferson at Oglethorpe County
Johnson at Stephens County
Lakeview Academy at White County
Lanier at East Hall
Lumpkin County at Eastside
Social Circle at Riverside Military
Walnut Grove at Chestatee
Winder-Barrow at Flowery Branch


Saturday, March 8
BASKETBALL:
State Championships, Macon

BASEBALL:
East Hall at Walt Disney World Sports Complex Tournament
Jackson County at Eastside

GOLF:
Apple Mountain Invitational, Clarkesville
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