Apalachee aims to slow Gainesville's run through 8-AAAAA

Here are some of the top stories to watch this weekend involving Class AAAAA basketball teams:

*Challenging the Red Elephants: The third-ranked Gainesville boys team appears well on its way to the 8-AAAAA regular-season title, but the Red Elephants (15-1, 6-0) will face the team with perhaps the best chance of at least slowing them down when they travel to Apalachee (13-4, 6-2) on Friday. Apalachee has a star in junior guard Kamar Baldwin, who averages 26.2 points and 10.5 rebounds, leads the team in steals and blocked shots and is second in assists. Baldwin had scored at least 30 points in four consecutive games before he finished with a game-high 20 in a 69-54 victory over Lanier on Tuesday. Gainesville hosts Buford on Saturday.

*Tough stretch: The top-ranked Miller Grove boys team (16-3) begins a three-game stretch against ranked teams when it plays Saturday at No. 9 Southwest DeKalb (16-3). The Wolverines, who have won 10 consecutive games since a 40-38 loss to Orange High of California in the Iolani Classic, will then play at No. 4 M.L. King (15-3) on Tuesday before playing the rematch against Southwest DeKalb on Jan. 27. Miller Grove begins the weekend Friday with a home game against Dunwoody.

*Battle for the lead: First place will be on the line Friday when the Columbus (12-3, 5-0) girls face Northside-Columbus (10-3, 4-0) in a Region 1-AAAAA game. Columbus, the state runner-up in AAAA last season, has won 11 of its last 12 games after starting 1-2. The only loss in that stretch was a 65-52 game against Class AAA No. 1 Kendrick on Dec. 30. Columbus also has a big non-region game Saturday when it takes on Class AAAAAA No. 10 Mountain View in the Krossover Classic at Archer. Mountain View knocked off Norcross on Tuesday.

*New front-runners: The Woodland-Stockbridge girls (13-4, 9-0) are the only remaining unbeaten team in Region 4-AAAAA play after upsetting fourth-ranked Forest Park 50-37 on Tuesday. Kayla Mitchell, who had averaged just 4.1 points through the first 15 games of the season, led the Wolfpack with 16 points, including 13 of the team's 15 points in the first half. Woodland will take a four-game winning streak into Friday's region game at home against Mundy's Mill (10-6, 6-4). Forest Park is 14-4 overall and 10-1 in the region.

*Top 10 update: Forest Park was the only ranked girls team to lose on Tuesday, but two of the top-10 boys teams lost by double digits. No. 8 Richmond Hill fell 65-46 against Liberty County and has lost three straight heading into its weekend games against Camden County and Coffee. No. 10 Northside-Warner Robins was defeated by Perry 56-42 for just its second loss in the past 10 games. Northside will travel to Houston County on Friday before getting its shot at revenge against Perry at home on Saturday.