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Wednesday August 17th, 2022 12:06AM

Girls playoffs basketball: Small but potent group of NEGa teams look for Final 4 berths.

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

Only four Northeast Georgia-area girls teams survived through to the Elite 8 round of the Georgia High School Association state playoffs.

Nearly a dozen teams went into last week's second round but only Jefferson in Class 4A, Lumpkin County in Class 3A, Rabun County in Clas 2A, and Commerce in Class A Public advanced.

Jefferson, Rabun County, and Commerce all will play at home as they look to reach the semifinal round. The Lady Dragons will take on Pickens at The Arena. Rabun County, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, entertains Chattooga. Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers pulled a huge upset in the Sweet 16 knocking off No. 7 Clinch County on the road. They will play host to Pelham.

However, perhaps the most intriguing matchup in the entire state in any classification will be in Augusta when No. 1 Lumpkin County hits the road to take on defending Class 3A state champion and No. 2-ranked Cross Creek. It will be a rematch of the two teams' thrilling playoff showdown in Dahlonega in 2021.

It also is a matchup that Lumpkin County coach David Dowse and his entire squad has had penciled in since their gut-wrenching 46-45 loss to the Lady Razorbacks on the final play in last year's semifinals.

The two teams were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 at the end of the season. Both teams may be peaking at the right time. Cross Creek (25-1) is a perfect 12-0 at home on the season. Lumpkin County (27-1) is a perfect 9-0 on the road.

Something will have to give. The keys for Dowse are simple.

"We've got to control (Cross Creek sophomore) Micheala Bogans, rebound the basketball, stay out of foul trouble, and win the transition battle," Dowse said. "We will also need to display the necessary mental toughness to maintain laser focus while playing in a difficult environment."

Defense and overall team productivity will decide either team's fate. The Lady Indians held a good Tattnall County team to four-points or less in two quarters of a 90-30 demolition at the Lynn Cottrell Center in the second round. The burden may fall on senior point guard Lexi Pierce to take on Bogans and keep the offense flowing.

"I thought we did a decent job of keeping Tattnall County in front of us," Dowse said. "We forced them to take low percentage shots, which allowed us to rebound and run. It's difficult to select a catalyst from a group which shows very balanced productivity, but Lexi, because of her toughness and as our point guard, is a big key."

(Check below for the day and times of all four Elite 8 matchups.)

QUARTERFINALS ROUND GIRLS PLAYOFF SCHEDULE, Tuesday, March 1

CLASS 3A
Lumpkin County (R7, S1) at Cross Creek (R4, S1), 6 p.m.

CLASS 2A
Chattooga (R7, S2) at Rabun County (R8, S1), 6 p.m.


QUARTERFINALS ROUND GIRLS PLAYOFF SCHEDULE, Wednesday, March 2

CLASS 4A
Pickens (R7, S2) at Jefferson (R8, S1), 6 p.m.

CLASS A PUBLIC
Pelham (R1, S3) at Commerce (R8, S2), 5:30 p.m.


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