The girls’ draw is not so lopsided, but in addition to the Collins Hill-Westlake quarter, it’s also likely to produce a Norcross-McEachern game in the elite eight. That’s an all-too-early rematch of the 2017 state final, again with the luck of a coin toss to decide which is at home.
In the Region 7 boys final last week, Norcross defeated Meadowcreek on a last-second 3-point shot. Norcross’ ‘’reward’’ was a potential elite-eight meeting with nationally ranked McEachern. Norcross also has borderline top-10 Duluth in its path.
Norcross coach Jesse McMillan didn’t complain on his own. But when asked, he did have an opinion.
‘’The brackets and seeding matchups are predetermined by GHSA, and some people think this is a flawed process,’’ McMillan said.
Those matchups put the eight region champions on a path for one another in the quarterfinals, which is nice, but those matchups are just short of random, with no consideration for the ranking of those teams.
“For several years, coaches complained that Final Four games were unevenly matched, and many semifinal scores justified this, so the GHSA attempted to eliminate that by ‘crossing over’ in quarterfinals,’’ McMillan added. “But as you can see, that only brings about more controversy.’’
‘Crossing over’ is hard to explain, but in short, it fixed the old system whereby regions 1-4 had two teams in the semifinals and 5-8 had two teams in the semifinals. The ‘’cross overs’’ are friendly to strong regions, assuring that their teams don’t get in the way of each other. But crossing over doesn’t solve the problem of the state’s best teams meeting as early as the quarterfinals.
McMillan has a proposal.
‘’The logical solution is seeding the tournament 1-32 via the same basic process used in the Single A brackets,’’ McMillan said. “The first-round of the state playoffs start either Friday or Saturday for every team, one week after region tournaments. Therefore, there is ample time to seed the tournament, hear any appeals and allow teams to prepare for a game. I'm sure there will be a proposal submitted in the off-season to suggest this.’’
Then, there’s the issue of the at-large (or wildcard) playoff team. Beginning last year, AAAAAAA began awarding an at-large berth to the highest-rated team that didn’t make the state tournament on its own. Regions 2 through 7 qualify four teams apiece, but Region 1 gets only three automatic bids because it has only four teams. That leaves a spot open. The at-large berths this season went to Collins Hill (boys) and Camden County (girls).
The at-large teams are matched to play a No. 1 seed. Problem is, these at-large teams are generally better than half the automatic qualifiers. That’s because the at-large choice is liable to be a really good team that happened to get upset in its region tournament. Case in point, Collins Hill (20-5), which has been ranked in the top 10 virtually all season.
Pebblebrook, the fourth-ranked team in AAAAAAA, is the unlucky region champion that drew Collins Hill.
‘’That needs fixing,’’ Pebblebrook coach George Washington said. “It does not reward you for being No. 1.’’
R6 #3 Duluth d. R5 #2 West Forsyth
R7 #1 Norcross d. R8 #4 Archer
R2 #3 Westlake d. R1 #2 Colquitt County
R3 #1 McEachern d. R4 #4 Walton
R6 #2 Mountain View d. R5 #3 Milton
R8 #1 Newton d. R7 #4 Central-Gwinnett
R2 #2 Wheeler d. R1 #3 Lowndes
R4 #1 Etowah d. R3 #4 North Cobb
R7 #2 Meadowcreek d. R8 #3 South Gwinnett
R6 #4 Mill Creek d. R5 #1 Lambert
R3 #2 Kennesaw Mountain d. R4 #3 Woodstock
R2 #4 Campbell d. R1 #1 Tift County
R8 #2 Grayson d. R7 #3 Berkmar
R6 #1 Peachtree Ridge d. R5 #4 South Forsyth
R4 #2 Roswell d. R3 #3 Hillgrove
R2 #1 Pebblebrook d. At-large: Collins Hill
Norcross d. Duluth
McEachern d Westlake
Newton d. Mountain View
Wheeler d. Etowah
Meadowcreek d. Mill Creek
Campbell d. Kennesaw Mountain
Peachtree Ridge d. Grayson
Pebblebrook d. Roswell
McEachern d. Norcross
Newton d. Wheeler
Meadowcreek d Campbell
Pebblebrook d. Peachtree Ridge
McEachern d. Newton
Pebblebrook d. Meadowcreek
McEachern d. Pebblebrook
R6 #3 North Gwinnett d. R5 #2 South Forsyth
R7 #1 Norcross d. R8 #4 Archer
R1 #2 Tift County d. R2 #3 Pebblebrook
R3 #1 McEachern d. R4 #4 Etowah
R5 #3 Lambert d. R6 #2 Mill Creek
R8 #1 Newton d. R7 #4 Central Gwinnett
R1 #3 Colquitt County d. R2 #2 Wheeler
R4 #1 Cherokee d. R3 #4 North Cobb
R8 #3 Grayson d. R7 #2 Brookwood
R5 #1 North Forsyth d. R6 #4 Mountain View
R3 #2 Hillgrove d. R4 #3 Roswell
R1 #1 Lowndes d. R2 #4 Campbell
R8 #2 South Gwinnett d. R7 #3 Parkview
R6 #1 Collins Hill d. R5 #4 West Forsyth
R3 #3 Marietta d. R4 #2 Woodstock
R2 #1 Westlake d. At-large: Camden County
Norcross d. North Gwinnett
McEachern d. Tift County
Newton d. Lambert
Cherokee d. Colquitt County
North Forsyth d. Grayson
Lowndes d. Hillgrove
Collins Hill d. South Gwinnett
Westlake d. Marietta
Norcross d. McEachern
Cherokee d. Newton
North Forsyth d. Lowndes
Collins Hill d. Westlake
Norcross d. Cherokee
Collins Hill d. North Forsyth
Collins Hill d. Norcross