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Monday November 23rd, 2020 7:22PM

Playoff basketball notebook: Still alive; 3 area teams battle for state title berth

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

Heading into the quarterfinals of the Georgia High School Association basketball tournament on Wednesday, there were 7 northeast Georgia teams left. After Wednesday, only three were still on the road to Macon.

In Class 5A, the Buford girls advanced with a win over Carrollton, while the Buford boys couldn't rally past Kell.

In Class 3A, North Hall girls knocked off Morgan County to stay on the road, and the Jefferson boys outlasted Monroe-Albany to keep rolling. But the Jefferson girls struggled to find enough offense to beat Greater Atlanta Christian.

In Class 2A, Banks County boys and the Union County girls bids for a semifinal appearance came to end on their home courts.

On Saturday, the defending Class 5A champion and No. 1 seed Buford girls will travel to Fort Valley State to play No. 2 seed Woodland-Henry for a fourth straight Class 5A title, while the No. 1 seed North Hall girls take on No. 2 seed Beach at Valdosta State University. Both games tip at 2 p.m. The No. 1 seed Jefferson boys will battle Central-Macon, both games are at Valdosta State University. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

The North Hall girls vs. Beach game will be broadcast live on 94.5 FM The Lake. Click here to listen.

Here is a breakdown of the quarterfinal round by boys and girls:

BOYS

Class 3A: Jefferson remains the only area team left standing in a brutally tough classification. The Dragons were as hot as any team coming into Wednesday's semifinals, and extended their winning streak to 12 games with the win over Monroe-Albany in the quarterfinals -- only No. 1 Pace Academy (16) has a longer current win streak in the classification. 

The Region 8-3A champion Dragons take on Region 4-3A No. 2 seed Central Macon, which beat third-ranked Windsor Forest in overtime in the quarters, 78-76. On paper, the two teams match up offensively, with the Dragons averaging 69.8 points per game and the Chargers scoring 69.7 ppg. Defensively, the Chargers are better, giving up 51.5 ppg to Jefferson's 58.7 ppg. 

The Dragons are in the semifinals for just the third time since 1987 -- first since 2010.  Central Macon is in the semifinals for only the second time since 1986 but the ninth straight tournament appearance. 

GIRLS

Class 5A: Entering the quarterfinals this week, Class 5A seemed to be the more balanced classification across the bracket. Only three region champions made the quarters, with three No. 2 seeds also advancing and one No. 4 seed. But all that changed with the three No. 1 seeds -- Eagles Landing (Region 4), Kell (Region 7) and Buford (Region 8 survived -- all advancing to the semifinals, making it an overloaded Final Four on Saturday, with only one No. 2 seed remaining in Woodland Henry. 

It also only leaves one team in the tournament -- Buford -- that made the semifinals in 2019 

Three-time defending state champion Buford has been the class of the league winning the state title in every season it has been in the classification. The Lady Wolves have not lost to a Class 5A team since joining in the 2017-18 season going 54-0 in that span. Buford's quarterfinal win secured them a 14th-straight berth in the semifinals. The Lady Wolves have won their first two games by an average of 29.5 points but had to grind it out against Carrollton at Buford City Arena on Wednesday, winning 58-47.

They now face No. 2 seed Woodland-Henry for a shot at their fourth consecutive state title berth. Woodland has never made it out of the first round and only has two tournament appearances since 2003. They've also had back-to-back close games, outlasting No. 1 seed Jackson in the second round, 59-55, and beating No. 2 seed Arabia Mountain in double overtime, 60-53. 

Buford likes to control the tempo with a high-intensity full-court press and trapping half-court defense, but Carrollton forced the Lady Wolves into a half-court game on Wednesday. The same could happen on Saturday against Woodland. On paper, this matchup is pretty good. Buford averages 63 ppg on offense, while Woodland scores 51 points per game. The game will feature two of the best defenses in Class 5A, in terms of averages. Woodland is allowing 38 ppg, and Buford is giving up 36.8 ppg. 

Class 3A: There's only one way to describe this classification -- brutal. And that didn't change in the quarterfinals, leaving two region champs and two No. 2 seeds playing for a finals berth. Two-time defending champ Johnson-Savannah (Region 3) and North Hall (Region 7) -- with the No. 2 seeds from the same regions also advancing -- Beach (Region 3) and Greater Atlanta Christian (Region 7).

North Hall broke through the quarterfinals barrier with the win over Morgan County on Wednesday at home and will face 2017 Class 3A champ, Beach in the semifinals. 

It's only the Lady Trojans third trip to the Final Four but seems to match up with Beach pretty good on both ends of the floor.

Click here to read the preview of the North Hall/Beach game here. 

Jeff Hart contributed to this article.

 

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports
  • Associated Tags: High school basketball, North Hall girls basketball, jefferson boys basketball, Buford girls basketball
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