Darkhorse: Pelham. At 4-6 in the region, the Hornets are tied with Fitzgerald for fourth place, but have been competitive in every game they've played in the last six weeks. The last time they lost by more than 10 points was against Seminole County on Dec. 19.
Team to beat: Eh, maybe check back on Saturday. As of now, I'll have to say Bryan County. The Redskins and Vidalia are tied with 12-1 marks in region play, and Bryan County won by 31 points the first time they met. But the Redskins suffered a loss to McIntosh County Academy last week, and Vidalia has won nine in a row. Friday night's rematch will decide the regular season championship.
Biggest threat: Vidalia. See above.
Darkhorse: McIntosh County Academy. I hate to just go with the top three teams in the region, and Benedictine and/or Bacon County could make some noise in the region tournament, but I have to go with the Buccaneers here. After a six-game losing streak that spanned Dec. 12-29, MCA is 10-2, including last week's win over Bryan County.
Team to beat: Even though Swainsboro will likely enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed, Harlem is playing the best basketball in Region 3 lately. The Bulldogs have won their last seven, none by fewer than 15 points. That includes payback wins over Swainsboro and Dublin, the likely No. 3 seed.
Biggest threat: Swainsboro. For obvious reasons. The Tigers have bounced back from a three-game losing streak (against three pretty good teams) and took an important 65-55 win over Dublin last week. That tells me the Tigers aren't going to let their top spot slip away easily.
Darkhorse: Dublin is the easy answer here. East Laurens is the only remaining team in the region with a winning record overall, and the Fighting Irish swept the season series, including a 110-79 win last week.
Team to beat: Crawford County. The Eagles, 11-0 in region, are the runaway leader in 4-AA. Led by junior wing William Jarrell and sophomore post Marcus Knolton, Crawford County has won 12 straight, building a comfortable margin at the top of the league.
Biggest threat/darkhorse: There's a five-team scrum with only two games in the loss column separating second place (Monticello) from sixth (Northeast-Macon and Putnam County). None of the teams have a winning overall record, but of the bunch, Northeast-Macon might be the most dangerous due to its ability to score in bunches. Led by senior guard Santez Kinder (27 ppg), the Raiders rank second behind Crawford County in terms of points per game in region play.
Team to beat: Manchester. No team in 5-AA is ranked among the state's top 10, but Manchester has been dominant throughout most of region play, winning by an average of 26.9 points per game en route to an 8-0 record.
Biggest threat: Chattahoochee County enters the week with a one-game lead over Temple for the No. 2 seed, and hasn't lost since falling 69-63 to Crawford County on Jan. 17.
Darkhorse: Until its current three-game slide, Bowdon looked like it would be the most likely team to upset Manchester, and the Red Devils should still be considered dangerous. They're the only team in the region to keep the margin to single digits against Manchester.
Team to beat: Pace Academy. The Knights are 12-0 in region play and have clinched the top seed for next week's region tournament.
Biggest threat: Holy Innocents'. The Golden Bears are tied for second with Greater Atlanta Christian, and split the season series with the Spartans, but of the two, HIES looks like the toughest out. The Golden Bears have lost only twice since Dec. 19, both times to Pace Academy, including a two-point heartbreaker last week. Also of note: Holy Innocents' will be the tournament host, which can't hurt the Golden Bears' chances.
Darkhorse: The top three in Region 6 have been dominant, only losing to each other, so a Cinderella run through the tournament would appear unlikely. Keep an eye on Wesleyan, though. The Wolves are in sixth place and just 4-8 in the region, but have shown the ability to be dangerous – most recently in a 70-68 overtime loss to GAC last week.
Team to beat: Model. The Blue Devils took over sole possession of first place with last week's win over Coosa and can wrap up the top seed with a win over Darlington on Tuesday.
Biggest threat: Chattooga. This could easily be Coosa; the two teams are tied for second at 7-3. The Indians get the nod here due to their strong play down the stretch. Going back to Dec. 20, Chattooga has won 10 of its last 11, including a 79-72 win over Coosa on Jan. 9. The teams meet again, likely to decide the No. 2 seed, on Tuesday.
Darkhorse: Dade County. Until a recent four-game slide, the Wolverines appeared to be a contender in 7-AA. Four of their five losses in region play have come by five points or less, including a pair to Model by a combined seven points.
Team to beat: Along with Region 5, 8-AA is the only other region not represented in the state's top 10, so perhaps Greene County's recent run of dominance has gone under the radar. The Tigers have won 10 straight since falling to Union County on Jan. 3 in their only region loss.
Biggest threat: Rabun County. The Wildcats are tied with Greene County at 9-1 in region play, but the Tigers hold the tiebreaker due to a 90-76 win over Rabun on Jan. 17. The Wildcats will get a chance to even the score on Friday in a potential region championship preview.
Darkhorse: Greene County and Rabun County appear to be the prohibitive favorites, but of the remaining teams, third-place Union County appears to be most likely of pulling an upset or two. The Panthers' only region losses have come against the league's top two teams.
TOP TEN SCHEDULES
1. Pace Acdemy (21-2)
- Tuesday: at B.E.S.T. Academy
- Friday: at Wesleyan
2. Seminole County (19-3)
- Tuesday: vs. No. 7 Thomasville
- Friday: vs. Early County
3. Holy Innocents’ (19-4)
- Tuesday: vs. Wesleyan
- Friday: at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate
4. Crawford County (20-3)
5. Vidalia (21-2)
- Monday: Won at Benedictine, 45-44
- Wednesday: at Montgomery County
- Friday: vs. Bryan County
6. Greater Atlanta Christian (14-8)
- Tuesday: vs. Lovett
- Friday: vs. B.E.S.T. Academy
7. Thomasville (16-6)
- Tuesday: at No. 2 Seminole County
- Friday: vs. Fitzgerald
- Saturday: vs. Brooks County
8. Harlem (20-3)
9. Model (18-4)
10. Coosa (16-4)
- Tuesday: vs. Chattooga
- Friday: at Dade County
1. Holy Innocents’ (23-0)
- Tuesday: vs. No. 3 Wesleyan
- Friday: at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate
2. Pelham (22-1)
- Tuesday: vs. Brooks County
- Friday: vs. Berrien
3. Wesleyan (18-5)
- Tuesday: at No. 1 Holy Innocents'
- Friday: vs. Pace Academy
4. Model (21-2)
- Tuesday: vs. No. 5 Darlington
5. Darlington (17-5)
- Tuesday: vs. No. 4 Model
- Friday: at Chattooga
- Saturday: at Cedartown
6. Putnam County (18-4)
- Tuesday: at Northeast-Macon
- Saturday: at Jones County
7. Vidalia (19-3)
- Wednesday: at Montgomery County
- Friday: vs. Bryan County
8. Lovett (14-7)
- Tuesday: at Greater Atlanta Christian
- Friday: vs. Hapeville Charter
9. Union County (17-5)
- Friday: vs. Social Circle
10. Manchester (19-2)
- Tuesday: vs. Chattahoochee County
- Friday: at Temple
Crawford County sophomore center Marcal Knolton had 48 points, 13 rebound and four blocks in a 108-101 win over Northeast-Macon on Jan. 30.
Seminole County junior guard Jordan Harris averaged 29 points, 10.7 rebounds, seven assists, 4.7 steals in three wins last week.
Pace Academy senior guard Elijah Holyfield averaged 23 points per game in three wins last week, including a game-high 29 points and the game-winning jumper in overtime as the top-ranked Knights defeated No. 3 Holy Innocents' on Jan. 27.
Crawford County junior guard William Jarrell averaged 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, four blocks and 3.5 steals in a pair of wins last week.
Model senior forward VJ Saxton had 33 points and 14 rebounds in an 89-78 win over Coosa and averaged 25.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in a pair of win last week.
Seminole County junior point guard Anfernee King averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5.3 steals and five assists in three wins last week.
Harlem senior point guard Reggie Reid had 17 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks and three steals in an 88-61 win over Dublin on Jan. 27.
Pace Academy sophomore center Wendell Carter had 22 points and 12 rebounds in a 91-69 win over Hapeville Charter on Jan. 30.
Social Circle sophomore guard Deion Head had 27 points, six assists and five rebounds in a 66-61 win over Oglethorpe County on Jan. 30.
East Laurens junior guard Marty Lewis had 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 110-79 loss to Dublin on Jan. 30.
Bryan County senior center Alex Simmons averaged 25 points as the Redskins went 1-1 last week.
Screven County freshman forward Tyquan Johnson had 19 points and 14 rebounds in a 73-65 loss to East Laurens on Jan. 27.
Bowdon senior guard Darnell Holland had 27 points in a 100-91 loss to Manchester on Jan. 27.
Berrien senior forward Jay Harris had 19 points and 13 rebounds in a 75-49 loss to Early County on Jan. 27.
Oglethorpe County junior guard Rayne Pyfrom had 20 points and tied season-highs with 29 rebounds and five blocks in a 61-45 win over Washington-Wilkes on Jan. 27.
Long County sophomore post Elexxus Wrighton averaged 20 points and 24 rebounds as the Blue Tide went 1-1 last week.
McIntosh County Academy senior center Makhala Jackson had 31 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four blocks in a 56-52 win over Bryan County on Jan. 27.
Manchester freshman guard Brittany Davis averaged 21.7 points, 8.3 steals and eight rebounds in three wins last week.
Wesleyan senior guard Nikki McDonald averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds in a pair of wins last week.
Manchester senior post De'audra Copeland had 24 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in a 63-46 win over Greenville on Jan. 31.
St. Vincent's sophomore guard Sarah Stewart had 29 points, seven rebounds and six steals in a 49-42 loss to New Hampstead on Jan. 28.
Model freshman center Victaria Saxton averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds in a pair of wins last week.
Holy Innocents' junior center Erika Cassell had 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 78-33 win over Pace Academy on Jan. 27.
Darlington sophomore guard Anna Claire Atha had 26 points and seven rebounds in a 66-42 win over Coosa on Jan. 27.
Swainsboro senior post Alearai Corley had 21 points and eight rebounds in a 50-36 win over Dublin on Jan. 31.
Chattahoochee County junior forward Denise Martin had 20 points, seven assists and four rebounds in a 51-50 win over Marion County on Jan. 27.
Early County senior point guard Tynicia McCoy scored 25 points in a 67-38 win over Berrien on Jan. 27.
Darlington junior guard Keara Evans had 14 points and 14 rebounds in a 66-42 win over Coosa on Jan. 27.
Coosa junior forward Perry Shumate had 13 points and 13 rebounds in a 55-44 win over Christian Heritage on Jan. 31.