clear
Tuesday May 5th, 2015 3:34PM

Three semifinals, two quarterfinals on tap for area programs

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Track and tennis are finished, and most of the area's other spring sports squads are already thinking about next year -- except for five focused and excited teams that will continue their postseason runs this week.

Three area soccer programs will compete in the state semifinals on Tuesday, as North Hall and West Hall head on the road in Class AAA and Johnson plays host to its fourth straight playoff match in Class AAAA.

Meanwhile, the Gainesville and Buford baseball teams will get the quarterfinal round started with home doubleheaders on Tuesday. Both the Red Elephants Wolves arrive in the round of eight with plenty of expectations, and the Region 7-AAA and 8-AAAAA champions will believe that they are in great position to keep their championships hopes alive.

Certainly the title hopes of the Johnson, West Hall and North Hall soccer teams are very much kicking, as each program will make their first semifinal appearances in several seasons.

The Spartans were here most recently -- having played in the 2009 Class AAA championship -- and will look to get back into the title game against an Oconee County squad that knocked West Hall out of the 2013 playoffs. The Warriors pulled a 2-0 upset at West Hall in last season's second round, and the Spartans will look to return the favor this week in Watkinsville. West Hall will hope to repeat its semifinal performance of 2009, when the Spartans blanked Oconee County 2-0 in Watkinsville.

North Hall, meanwhile, will be making its first state semifinal in almost 20 years when it travels south to face St. Pius on Tuesday in Atlanta. The Trojans won't mind heading back on the road after winning three straight contests away from The Brickyard to get into the final four. St. Pius' Maloof Stadium has often been a horror ground for area teams, but North Hall will not be intimidated -- not only because of their form, but due to the fact that fellow 7-AAA competitor Dawson County pushed the Golden Lions to the brink in the second round. And 7-AAA's West Hall already knocked out Region 6-AAA champion Woodward Academy -- which defeated St. Pius earlier this season -- in the second round.

In Class AAAA, Johnson is back in the semifinals for the first time since 2005 and will get to stay at home in search of a championship game berth. Tuesday's opponent will offer perhaps the toughest trial faced this season, however, in Southeast Whitfield. The Raiders played in last year's Class AAAA championship game, finishing second to fellow Region 7-AAAA foe Dalton.

Both the Class AAA and Class AAAA boys state championship games will take place on Saturday, the AAAA contest at Kennesaw State and the AAA finale at Emory University.

There will be no lack of action on Tuesday, as two baseball doubleheaders get underway in the afternoon.

Gainesville will play host to Starr's Mill in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. Having reached the third round in three straight seasons, the Red Elephants will hope to use Tuesday as a launch point for a deeper run, looking to get back to the semifinals for the second time in those three years.

It won't come easy against a Starr's Mill team that edged out Region 1-AAAAA champion Harris County in three games last week, including a razor-thin 9-8 win in Game 3. Starr's Mill is led by Ryan Avidano and Adam Goodman, two pitchers committed to the University of Georgia. Gainesville, meanwhile, has put together back-to-back two-game sweeps and will look to keep rolling.

Buford, meanwhile, will take on a Pike County team that replaced the Wolves as the No. 1 team in the Class AAA rankings at the end of April.

The Pirates needed three games to knock off Southeast Bulloch in the second round of the state playoffs, while the Wolves are coming off two dominating series, having allowed just five runs in four games -- a first and second round sweep.

The two teams have some history, having met in the 2011 Class AA championship -- a series that Buford won 2-1, dropping Game 1 10-3 before storming back with two straight wins: 14-4 and 5-1.

It should all make for a thrilling few days, as the clock ticks toward the end of the high school sports campaign.


AREA SPORTS SCHEDULE, MAY 12-17
Tuesday, May 13
BASEBALL -- State quarterfinal doubleheaders:
Class AAAAA
Starr's Mill at Gainesville, 4 p.m.
Class AAA
Pike County at Buford, 4:30 p.m.

SOCCER -- boys state semifinals
Southeast Whitfield at Johnson
West Hall at Oconee County
North Hall at St. Pius


Wednesday, May 14
BASEBALL -- State quarterfinal doubleheaders:
Game 3 if necessary


Saturday, May 17
SOCCER -- State championship games
AAAA boys -- 2:30 p.m. at Kennesaw State
AAA boys -- 7:30 p.m. at Emory
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 4 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 4 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 4 months ago )
Sports
Lanierland boys semifinals: Unbeatens Johnson, Red Elephants roll into finals
Both Gainesville and Johnson powered their way into the Lanierland Tournament finals on Monday. The two undefeated teams will meet Tuesday for the title at 8:30 p.m. at Chestatee.
10:01AM ( 4 months ago )
Lanierland girls semifinals: GHS, Lady Falcons advance to finals <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Flowery Branch and Gainesville each took impressive wins Monday to advance to the Lanierland Tournament finals...
10:00AM ( 4 months ago )
Girls basketball: Lady Tigers advance to Pickens Holiday finals
The Dawson County girls basketball advanced to the finals of the Pickens Holiday Classic after an 81-54 win over Riverwood Monday.
11:48PM ( 4 months ago )
High School Sports
Baseball: Area teams head to 2nd round with momentum
Area teams caught some big breaks, others made their own, and one, Jackson County, made history in the first round of the state baseball playoffs...
5:31PM ( 1 hour from now )
Golf: Six area teams notch state spots via sectional tournaments
Region 8-AAAA had a strong showing Monday at the Class AAAA boys North Sectionals at Applewood Golf Club.
By AccessWDUN staff
5:05PM ( 1 hour from now )
Gainesville Schools taps Centennial High's Kirk to take over system-wide AD position
At Monday night's school board work session, Gainesville City School Superintendent Wanda Creel introduced the school system's new Director of Athletics and Student Activities.
3:11AM ( 12 hours ago )
TIPOFF: Wizards look to keep up their winning ways on road
Over the last two years, the Wizards have been the ultimate road warriors in the playoffs, winning eight of nine games away from D.C. and becoming the first team in NBA history to capture four straight Game 1s in the other team's arena.
12:22AM ( 15 hours ago )
Alex Wood struggles again as Braves fall to Phillies, 5-2
Alex Wood's second straight poor start has the young Atlanta left-hander wondering how he can reclaim the form that made his 2014 rookie season a success.
12:20AM ( 15 hours ago )