Friday November 27th, 2015 3:17AM

Showdowns abound for baseball, soccer, golf and tennis this week

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
It's hard to believe, but we're already to the last week of March -- and that means there is little margin left for error for area sports programs.

Baseball and soccer are well into their region campaigns and playoff races are taking shape. Tennis, meanwhile, is already hitting its stretch run and teams are prepping for region tournaments -- following spring break in early April.

Golf and track teams are also finding their form and its athletes are hoping to perfect their form over the coming days and weeks.

With that in mind, northeast Georgia's programs have a huge week of games ahead, and it starts with a bang on Monday highlighted by two big baseball showdowns and a golf tournament.

Buford and North Hall have already made themselves frontrunners in the Region 7-AAA baseball race, along with White County, and the Wolves and Trojans will commence a two-game series on Monday at Buford, with the return on Wednesday at North Hall. The top-ranked Wolves are undefeated, while North Hall (7-4, 5-1 Region 7-AAA) bounced back from its one region defeat in style last Friday and will learn a lot about themselves this week, as they also face White County (9-0, 4-0) this Friday at home.

Meanwhile, Flowery Branch shook up the Region 8-AAAAA standings last Friday courtesy a 3-1 defeat of No. 2 Gainesville. The Red Elephants will look to bounce back and avoid a two-game sweep at the hands of the Falcons on Monday at Ivey-Watson Field in Gainesville. The Falcons (8-4, 3-0 Region 8-AAAAA) are off to a strong start and will look to keep that rolling. The Red Elephants (7-2, 2-1) meanwhile, would love to get back on track -- especially considering that this will be their last region game of the week, as they leave to take part in the National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C., Wednesday-Saturday.

Region 8-AA also faces a huge showdown on Tuesday, when Rabun County travels to take on Jefferson. Both teams are undefeated so far in region play and will battle for sole possession of first place.

Speaking of leaders, few have led like the Gainesville boys golf team this spring. The two-time defending state champs are now four for four on tournaments played and won this season after claiming the Georgia-South Carolina Cup over the weekend (for a third straight year). On Monday, the Red Elephants will look to make it a fifth triumph when they host the Big Red Shootout at Chattahoochee Golf Club. Utilizing the modified Stableford scoring system, which awards points, rather than counting total strokes, the tournament produces some aggressive and exciting play. Two days later, the Red Elephants will tee off again amongst a very strong field in the Champions Invitational at Ansley at Settindown.

The match schedule for soccer also features some weighty showdowns this week in Regions 7-AAA, 8-AAAA and 8-AAAAA.

It starts on Tuesday with an intriguing battle between eighth-ranked North Hall and seventh-ranked East Hall boys in Rabbittown. Both teams are undefeated in league play and know that a win on Tuesday would be huge in a 7-AAA race that also includes No. 3 Dawson County and No. 5 West Hall, which are also undefeated in region. East Hall will play West Hall on Friday. The girls side of 7-AAA will also feature a key battle when Dawson County travels to Buford. The fourth-ranked Lady Wolves have run riot so far in going 4-0 and outscoring foes 32-0 in 7-AAA play, but the fifth-ranked Lady Tigers have put together an impressive resume of their own and will see if they can pull off an upset.

Meanwhile, the Region 8-AAAA race will feature a huge rivalry on Friday when Chestatee travels to Johnson. The girls teams are in the thick of the postseason race, while the boys teams enter the week ranked No. 2 (Johnson) and 3 (Chestatee). The War Eagles face a crucial week, as they look to bounce back from a loss 3-1 to Lanier last Friday, while prepping for a tough Madison County team on Tuesday.

Region 8-AAAAA will also see a big rivalry play out on Friday between Gainesville and Flowery Branch -- whose girls teams are in the thick of the region title hunt. The Lady Red Elephants are still undefeated on the season (10-0-1, 5-0 Region 8-AAAAA) but the Lady Falcons (8-2-1, 2-1) will be motivated to stay near the top after their sole loss came against Heritage (also 5-0 in 8-AAAAA) in a penalty shootout. Meanwhile, the Flowery Branch boys (4-6-1, 1-2) will see if they can dent an impressive record for the sixth-ranked Gainesville boys (9-1-1, 5-0) and simultaneously get back into the playoff race.

Meanwhile, the Flowery Branch boys and girls tennis teams will look to take on some quality non-region and local rivals when they take part in a round-robin tournament with North Hall, Buford and Holy Innocents on Friday and Saturday in Gainesville and Buford.

As we said -- there will be no time to rest over the next six days.


Monday, March 24
Chestatee at Eastside
Dawson County at Banks County
Duluth at Habersham Central
East Hall at West Hall
Flowery Branch at Gainesville
Jackson County at Oconee County
Lanier at Johnson
Lumpkin County at Stephens County
North Forsyth at Centennial
North Hall at Buford
White County at Fannin County

Big Red Shootout at Chattahoochee Golf Club

Johnson at Stephens County

Tuesday, March 25
Commerce at Athens Christian
Lakeview Academy at Hebron Christian
Rabun County at Jefferson
Towns County at Athens Academy

Chestatee at Madison County
Clarke Central at Flowery Branch
Dawson County at Buford
Forsyth Central at Gainesville
Jackson County at Oglethorpe County
Johnson at Winder-Barrow
North Hall at East Hall
Peachtree Ridge at Habersham Central
Riverside Military at Jefferson
Stephens County at Lumpkin County
Union County at Rabun County
White County at West Hall

Wednesday, March 26
Banks County at Dawson County
Buford at North Hall
Fannin County at White County
Flowery Branch at Cedar Shoals
Gainesville at National High School Invitational
Habersham Central at Peachtree Ridge
Lumpkin County at Chestatee
Monroe Area at Johnson
North Forsyth at Johns Creek
Oconee County at Jackson County
West Hall at East Hall
West Oak, S.C. at Rabun County

The Champions Invitational at Ansley at Settindown

Thursday, March 27
Athens Academy at Towns County
Athens Christian at Commerce
Gainesville at National High School Invitational
Hebron Christian at Lakeview Academy

Banks County at Fannin County

Friday, March 28
Athens Christian at Lakeview Academy
Banks County at East Hall
Cedar Shoals at Flowery Branch
Chestatee at Lumpkin County
Commerce at Hebron Christian
Fannin County at Dawson County
Gainesville at National High School Invitational
Johnson at Monroe Area
Morgan County at Jackson County
North Forsyth at South Forsyth
Pinecrest Academy at Towns County
Riverside Military at Rabun County
Stephens County at Calhoun
West Hall at Buford
White County at North Hall

Buford at White County
Chestatee at Johnson
East Hall at West Hall
Flowery Branch at Gainesville
George Walton at Lakeview Academy
Habersham Central at Mill Creek
Jefferson at Union County
Lumpkin County at Monroe Area
Morgan County at Jackson County
Washington-Wilkes at Riverside Military

Round robin -- North Hall, Buford, Flowery Branch, Holy Innocents -- CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER

Saturday, March 29
Gainesville at National High School Invitational

Round robin -- North Hall, Buford, Flowery Branch, Holy Innocents -- CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER
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