With region tournaments only three weeks away for the AccessWDUN area teams, let the shuffling begin.
Ahh ... it's the best part of the high school basketball season. It has more meaning. There are no tip-off or holiday tournaments in the way. It's just region opponents fighting for those precious meaningful wins to improve their seeding in next month's region tournaments across the area.
WHAT WE CAN TELL YOU ...
-- Gainesville is on a seven-game streak. Maybe it had something to do with Lanierland but, whatever it is, the Red Elephants have put the 0-10 start behind them and are playing pretty well right now. They've reeled off seven straight wins and are co-leading Region 8-6A with a key game against co-leader Lanier at home tonight. They beat the Longhorns, and they'll be in the top spot alone.
-- Dawson County is hitting on all cylinders. They've had some close ones and even trailed Cherokee Bluff by almost 10 points last week but rallied to win. They're steeped in stingy defense and a sharpshooting group of talent. On Friday, they outscored Fannin County 43-3 to blow out the Rebels and win its seventh straight Region 7-3A game.
-- North Hall has turned some heads around the area with it's latest comeback win over Cherokee Bluff last week. They also rallied to beat Chestatee on Saturday. The Trojans are playing well right now thanks to Clark Howell. North Hall has become the team no one wants to play.
-- Banks County continues its dominance in Region 8-2A. Carl Cleveland leads a solid starting lineup that should get them a region title and a deep run in the Class 2A playoffs.
-- Buford is on the struggle bus in Region 8-5A. The defending Class 5A champs find themselves in the middle of the pack searching for some offense against the high-powered teams like Walnut Grove and Cedar Shoals.
-- Riverside Military Academy has taken over the Region 8-A lead. Led by Shad Dabney, the Eagles are becoming a handful.
-- Lakeview has won two-straight, snapping a five-game skid. Declan Wiedner has been key in the Lions' last two wins, but they're still fighting some nagging injuries. If those injuries heal sooner than later, watch out for this Lions team to make a late January run.
THE RANKINGS ⬆️⬇️
Only three area teams are ranked in either the ajc.com poll or Kyle Sandy’s rankings.
-- Dawson County (17-2, 7-0 Region 7-3A) is the highest-ranked team in the area moving up from No.4 to No. 2 in Sandy's poll and staying at No. 4 in ajc.com's.
-- Banks County (16-2, 6-0 Region 8-2A) remains steady at No. 6 in the ajc.com Class 2A poll but not ranked by Kyle Sandy.
-- Buford (13-5, 2-2 Region 8-5A) holds at No. 9 in the ajc.com Class 5A poll but dropped out of Sandy's poll this week.
THE HOT HAND
Cherokee Bluff’s Griffin Neville – Neville scored 32 points in the Bears’ win over Winder-Barrow on Saturday.
Lakeview’s Declan Weidner -- Week total 70 points (3 Games, 23.3 ppg) — Weidner scored 26 points in the win over Commerce on Friday, 25 points and six rebounds in a win over Athens Christian and 19 points in the loss to Tallulah Falls.
North Hall’s Clark Howell -- Week Total 63 points (3 Games, 21 ppg — Howell scored 23 points in a win over Bluff on Tuesday; scored 21 points in the Trojans' win over East Hall on Friday and had 19 points in the comeback win over Chestatee on Saturday
West Hall’s Sawyer Passmore – Week Total 38 (2 Games, 19 ppg) – Passmore scored 16 points in the Spartans’ win over Flowery Branch last Tuesday and 22 in the loss to Johnson on Saturday.
WHAT’S ON THE TUESDAY SLATE?
Gainesville vs. No. 4 Lanier, 7:30 p.m. – The Longhorns (14-5, 4-0) and Tulane-commit Sion James roll into Gainesville tonight for the biggest game of the season for both programs. Big Red is on a seven-game winning streak and is tied with Lanier for the top spot in Region 8-6A. A win for the Red Elephants will leave them at the top of the mountain.
No. 2 Dawson County vs. No. 8 GAC, 7:30 p.m. – The Tigers are on a seven-game winning streak and are leading Region 7-3A. But a hungry Spartan team travels to Dawsonville tonight with the intention of knocking off Dawson. The Tigers beat GAC in December, 72-40, and seem to be hitting their stride behind sharp-shooters Mason Barnes, Jasper Gibson and Campbell Reed. The Spartans on the other have been hit by the injury bug and struggled last week against East Hall and Fannin County. Cliff Baskerville and LaMarr Randolph will be key for the Spartans to beat Dawson County tonight.